Hope you are all doing well! I just returned from a short holiday with family and friends at South Luangwa National Park. We had a great time seeing so many animals in their natural habitat. Since there are no fences the animals sometimes wander into the surrounding areas. We got the pleasure of seeing two hippos walking right next to our cottage in the late evening (we were watching from inside the cottage so we were perfectly safe). Our hosts told us that the hippos come through their property most evenings. It was quite the treat to see them up so close!
We have been enjoying the rainy season (although we always pray for the rains to hold off until we’ve returned from Suzi on Wednesdays!). The landscape is lush and green. The maize has gotten very tall. Malawians plant pumpkins throughout the maize fields and they are nearly ready to harvest. We also have some sweet corn in our garden that we’re looking forward to eating soon.
It has been a busy month here. We saw more than 5,000 patients. As usual there were many patients with Malaria. The government facilities were struggling terribly because very few medications were available to them. We learned that much of the medication that was being given to patients was being purchased by the hospitals’ doctors with their own money. Some medications have been donated and the situation is somewhat better. They are still short of supplies including food for their nutrition programs. The Nathenje Health Center which is near our Mwalaulomwe clinic has been referring orphans and malnourished children to us rather than the other way around. Normally we refer severely malnourished children to them but now we need to take these individuals to the nutrition program at the District Health Center in Lilongwe. Most Nationals tell me that this is always a difficult time of year in Malawi. It is known as “hungry season” because the maize is growing in the fields rather than being available to make flour.
The civil servants throughout Malawi went on strike this month and that included hospital workers. The strike lasted only a couple of days and the government has agreed to increase the workers’ pay. People are struggling to make ends meet with the continuing devaluation of their currency and the continuously rising prices. The prices of regular household goods, housing and fuel are all going up.
We were unable to make it to Suzi once this month because of bad roads. We were able to take an alternate route to get there on some days but were unable to get through even on the alternate route that day because the bridge was covered in water from recent flooding to the area. The road we’ve been using for years to get to Suzi and Thunga has gradually become worse and now even the better parts of that road have become quite bad when it rains. Some of our staff has said that we’ve had more rain this year than in years past so that’s also contributing to the trouble getting to clinic.
We interviewed several candidates for our vacant Clinical Officer position. We are hoping to have someone hired in March. It’s been a bit frustrating using all temporary C.O.’s over the last couple of months but we do want to make sure that we are hiring the right person for the position.
In addition to my family and friends visiting this month we had Megan and Mandy (from the Mission Abroad Program) staying with us. It’s been fun getting to know them and showing them what we do here. Both are nurses and our staff enjoyed explaining their work and having Megan and Mandy spend time with them at each nursing station. They also got to experience some of the local health centers, pharmacies where we buy medications, the district health office, etc. and other “behind the scenes” things we do to run the clinic. We’ve appreciated their open mindedness and willingness to help out wherever needed. Megan has returned to the U.S. but we look forward to seeing her again in April when she starts her position as Sister-in-Charge at Lutheran Mobile Clinic. Mandy will be with us until early March and then will return to her work as an Emergency Room nurse in the U.S.
We still are not able to get water from our borehole at Thunga. We are having an assessment done and will see if some repairs need to be made. By this time in the rainy season we should be able to pump water even though we don’t get any in the dry season. Hopefully we will have better news from Thunga next month.
God’s blessings to you all,