Letter from Ruthie - April 2015

Ruthie updates the team on what has been happening in Blantyre and surroundings

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Dear Rotarians,


Many many apologies for the delay in communications; for the last 2 weeks I have been in very remote northern Malawi with very limited access to internet; I then had what seemed like 2 million email to catch up on my return.


I am now back in Blantyre after a very successful time up north, teaching Basic Trauma Life Support in the rural and district hospitals, with 3 surgeons. It was wonderful to be back teaching and away from bureaucratic meetings and fundraising, both of which can get rather depressing!! All I can say about the scenery, was that it was totally stunning; wild and untouched and we all had the most wonderful time; it was totally amazing to throw 4 people together virtually 24 hours a day, one of whom we had never met before. We got on like a house on fire despite hours on terrible roads, with 5 of us squashed in an ambulance for up to 9 hours driving some days!! Luckily, we all have a great sense of humour, we know Africa and we don't mind roughing it and eating in some fairly alternative places, to say the least!! 


That having been said, we also had some amazing days off by Lake Malawi when we were not teaching and we did a safari on the Nyika Plateau, which is amazing; we even saw a leopard just at camp; amazing stars and the whole of the Milky Way above us. 


The course was really successful and we taught around 120 medical staff in 6 hospitals, covering over 3000 kilometers. Wonderful stuff and an unforgettable trip.  The days at the Lake and Nyika made up for all the hardship and it was absolutely amazing.


Back in Blantyre, I am now catching up on email, meetings and chasing our legal agreements. While we were up north, we visited the capital of Malawi, Lilongwe, where Paul Thoma, (who gave a talk to you last year) and I went to the Department of Health; without making you lose the will to live, we have to get our Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Minister of Health in order to qualify for tax and VAT exemption, which will save us an awesome amount of money on the build costs.


Having said all this, I have just received a call from the Department of Health in Lilongwe and they are hassling the Dept of Justice to get a move on. The MInister of Health wants a signing ceremony with Press coverage, so I may live long enough to get them to sort it all out. I think have to go into battle with the Malawian revenue Authority; life is not easy out here, but at least we have some regular power back again!! 


I have also been out to Chilaweni village, where we are building our clinic, to prepare for our medical and nursing student visits this summer to keep me sane, so there is the odd reprieve from hassle. lovely to be back in our AMECA house again ad I am feeling very at home here. 


Last week I visited Rotary Club of Limbe, where I had a warm welcome; the good news is that they will be prepared to support a Global grant application from us and we can qualify by applying for 2 bore holes as opposed to one; this makes total sense as arguably most of the healthcare problems in the villages apart from maternity come from people drinking filthy water out of puddles and rivers. I am doing a visit to the community to assess location for most dire need and will get back to those of you on the International Committee.


Life here is a colourful blend of simplicity and mayhem, but the Malawians are so incredibly friendly and I am blessed with may good friends; today the water Board decided to cut us off as none of us in the little yard I live in had paid our bills!! I am not worried as we all have several days supply in our large outside storage tanks, so we will sort tomorrow!! You can't pay anything on line here!!


I hope you are all keeping well and here are a few photos for you from Rotary and our teaching trip.


Kindest regards,