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Malawi - Day 5


Malawi: June 6-18, 2024

Third and last clinic day

This morning we were on the bus by 7:30 AM. We had arranged to meet up with the government workers at the intersection of the main road and the side road that would take us to the village. We had to drive on rough dirt roads for only a short distance before we arrived at the village.

Just like yesterday, there were not many people in line when we arrived. Instead, we were greeted by cattle, goats, chickens, ducks, and the occasional dog as they roamed around the village. The children were still in school and they did not announce our arrival either!

Soon, the villagers started arriving and lining up behind the dozen or so people who were waiting when we arrived. The examination area was set up inside the church. While there were many stone pews that provided plenty of seating space, there was very little light. I didn’t even attempt to take photos inside the church.

Our pharmacy area was set up outside the exit from the church and underneath a tree. We cobbled together tables and boards to create adequate space to set out all of our medications. The desks and tables were low to the ground and Dr. Bill did deep knee bends trying to find what he was after!

We needed two stations to count pills. The plastic chairs were fine but creating two tables high enough that we didn’t break our backs leaning forward required some ingenuity. One table was a suitcase on its side with a small stool on top of it. Another table was a stool on the bottom and an upside down cardboard box taped on top of it.

It wasn’t difficult to know when school was out because the children’s laughter announced their arrival. Bubble Man and Toothbrush Man (aka Colin) was, as usual, a huge hit.

About midway through our day, I spotted Mary Beth carrying around an infant. Liquid acetomenophen was measured out and this little guy got a dose immediately. Soon, Jean had the pleasure of toting him around until I pressed for my own opportunity to get some baby time!

Little James was one of a set of twins, with his brother Jeremiah still riding around on their mom’s back. James tested positive for malaria and was running a high fever. He slept in my arms for a little while until the medication kicked in. Eventually, he opened his eyes and decided I wasn’t cutting it and he needed his mom… and lunch.

We saw 252 people today and had over 30 positive malaria tests… our highest number and highest percentage all week. Just as they had done the two previous days, Drs. Amy, Bill, and Rose joined us in the pharmacy to fill prescriptions and assist with the backlog of patients awaiting their medication. We were a streamlined efficient operation in our outdoor pharmacy by the end of the day!

Relatively early on, we realized that we needed to move our counting “tables” and chairs because ants were dropping out of the tree we were under. It wasn’t until we were packing everything up that we realized ants had found a new home in our suitcases that were also residing under the tree.

We left our clinic site by 3 PM after taking photos of everyone in front of the pink bus. The local folks who were in charge were extremely appreciative of what we accomplished today. We were back at the hotel by 3:45 which was the earliest we had managed all week… and yet we saw our second highest number of patients.

Everyone was thrilled at the opportunity to clean up and relax a bit before dinner. Poor Mary Beth has a bad cold. As I was working on the blog, the power went out for several minutes, came back on, went out again briefly, and is now back on, hopefully for good! Alan and I, and the other Nancy, leave in the morning for Lilongwe. Alan and I have a private safari arranged. The rest of the group is doing a shorter safari before heading home.

While we were all disappointed that our arrival was so delayed and we missed two clinic days, I think we all recognize that we accomplished a great deal in the time we had left. The needs of the people here are great… and anything that we can do to improve their lives is such a blessing.

When we left so late on our first clinic day and were driving in the dark, it was abundantly clear that the solar lamps that COR provides the villagers has an immeasurable impact on their lives. It is one thing to sit in the Leawood sanctuary and hear Pastor Adam talk about how hard it is for the children to study when darkness falls by 5:30 PM. It is yet another to drive by villages that are completely dark except for the occasional home that now has light. COR volunteers are indeed the hands and feet of Christ.