Shrewsbury School

Medic Malawi, Summer 2016

Thursday 15 September 2016

Diary entries from the joint Shrewsbury School-Shewsy Community Service Trip to the Medic Malawi Project, July 2016.

Day 1

We walked to the Medic Malawi project – passing many families and children on the way. Julie stopped a football game, played with a ball made of plastic bags and string, to give the children a football donated by Liverpool Football Club. They were ecstatic! Julie managed to get them to chant ‘Liverpoooool’ as she chucked the ball in the air.

When we got to the Orphanage, we were welcomed with hoards of smiling faces and numerous toddlers jumping into our arms for cuddles. At one point, we were all sat in a big room, nannies, children, us – each with a baby in our arms – and the whole orphanage joined in some gospel-esque singing. It was somewhat moving to hear how happy they are, like one big family, in such sad circumstances, with so little.

We had a tour of the community – hospital, Nutrition Centre, Orphanage, Eye Clinic, Schools… all followed by a posse of small children. It was nice to see the community increasingly self-sufficient, with a new building for a bakery, a hospital veggie stall and loads of chickens.
Jess Daley (Shewsy) Will Bedson (Shrewsbury)

Onto our first jobs! Some to the Orphanage, where changing nappies, pushing prams and folding laundry were on the agenda. In some cases, folding the laundry took a lot longer than anticipated because of the highly intelligent, cheeky and sometimes irritating little lad - BUT the ‘soul of the orphanage’ – Gift! He was actually caught on video undoing all our careful work, with one sweep of a well-aimed arm!

Painting started at the new Pharmacy extension. The combination of a window-less room and extra-strong turps led to some very happy painters.

Cokes and cloth were bought on the way home: Pete was Pied Piper to the children who follow the sound of his guitar. With a trip to the tailors to order our African outfits and food in our bellies, we lie victim once more to a series of Malarone-induced dreams.
Lucien Whitworth (Shrewsbury)

Day 2
My first job today was the Pharmacy, where I had to sort all of the donations we’d brought, in our 25 cases. It was interesting, as I enjoy sorting and organising, while looking at all of the different things that the doctors need to treat patients. Steffan made up a rhyme to help: ‘Bandages and all things square except for dressings which go over there’, which I found really funny and helped us to finish the job quicker. We then went for dinner which, as usual, I did not enjoy.

At the Orphanage, Gift, one of the funniest children I have ever met – decided to run away and had four people chasing him – this was the highlight of my whole day! I know I will have even more amazing experiences on my Malawi journey and be able to tell stories that will last a lifetime.
Rebecca Walsh (Shewsy)

Day 3
The unthinkable happened today – Mr Howarth did not go on a run! We will be sure to inform future members of the Hunt that it is alright to miss the odd session here and there.  We are helping to move textbooks from the old school bookstore to the new one. It’s a tough ordeal – loads of dust and Mrs Drew was surprised to find a maths textbook she’d last seen when she was at primary school. The teachers are keen to use us for this job, rather than the pupils, as they know we won’t be tempted to take a precious textbook home with us. Over a refreshing Fanta, the Head told us that 400 pupils come in the morning and another 300 in the afternoon – all taught by the same teachers.

Harry was reunited with Gift, who ‘watered’ the garden in his own unique way. War was declared on the visiting Malawi Youth Football Academy, and the end of day meeting (as always) brought a smile to everyone’s faces as we reviewed the ‘funniest bits’, at the end of an exhausting day in the ‘winter’ heat of Malawi. Bring on the next few days in our ‘second home’.
Jake Elliott (Shrewsbury)

Day 4
Today marked the commencement of the eye operations by Dr Amos Nyaka and his colleagues. He allowed two students at a time to observe the operations. We witnessed, between the four of us, life-changing surgery for 20 patients. We were invited to the surgeon’s side, where he talked us through, what seemed to him, a simple cataract removal. I was so grateful to look down the surgeon’s microscope, while he pointed out different parts of the eye. Most of the operations were successful. However, one unfortunate girl will have to repeat the surgery tomorrow because of complications.

Our donations to Medic Malawi have been put to great use, as today a large lorry carrying 1.5 million Kwachas’ worth of maize arrived – enough to feed the whole orphanage for the next six months. It was delightful to see faces light up when the truck arrived, and fun to climb up onto the bags of maize with the children.

The international Friendly between England and Malawi kicked off at 4.30pm. The game had a slow start, with an uneventful first half ending 0-0. Quick feet by the Malawians (none of whom had passed their 14th birthdays), provided them with a scoring opportunity, which they unfortunately capitalised on. The game was only decided in the final minute, and 2-1 was a respectable score for us, seeing as they are all expected to play in the top European leagues and have mastered every skill under the sun. The charity that was training them, Chigoli, #changethegame, gives them hope for bright futures. We wish them all the best.
Sam Mcloughlin & Rob Ford (Shrewsbury)

Day 5
Harriet and I shadowed a Clinical Officer on his round on the post-surgery maternity ward. Saw lots of scars. Watched a woman have a sonogram. The doctor explained afterwards that this was necessary because her husband had beaten her and they wanted to check if the baby was OK. Sad to be reminded that this happens in every culture. Very interesting morning, bread for lunch, pool in afternoon, bitten by ants, lay under stars in evening, sky was so clear. Happy day.
Poppy Holbrook (Shrewsbury)

Day 6
Early start – breakfast at 7am – so we could see a group of patients being led into the Shrewsbury Eye Clinic. Some had two eye patches; most had one. A definite highlight of the whole trip was to see these patients have their bandages removed. Some patients just smiled, some appeared confused, one elderly man got up and started to dance, another yelled ‘I can see!’. I noticed a few misty eyes (including my own), when all the patients broke out into a celebratory gospel song to give thanks and praise. Smiles all round when all the patients received a pair of sunglasses – donated by the ‘Spirit of Shankly’ Liverpool Supporters’ Club.  We asked what the words of the song meant and were told, by the nurse who couldn’t resist dancing along while she gave out the eyedrops, that someone had made it up on the spot, and it went ‘This is what we wanted, this is indeed  what we wanted’.
Julie Fitzpatrick (Shewsy)

Day 7
Yaaaaay! We had a lie-in this morning and didn’t have to go to breakfast until 8am! After an opening ceremony for the Pharmacy, we had lunch and then back to our accommodation to set up for the party, as we were the hosts. There were two large tables filled with toys and gifts; chairs were set up for the lady carers and games and between us we blew up about 50 balloons!

Just after 3pm, the whole orphanage arrived in the back of a pick-up truck – this was obviously the highlight of the week for many of the children! The response to the balloons was hilarious – so much laughter and happiness from a few tubes of rubber filled with air.

Whilst the older boys had a hard-fought football match, games of musical chairs and pass the balloon were played, and every child was encouraged to choose a gift from the table of treats. Sausage and chips and salad were served. It was fun watching the mess the two-year-olds made of eating theirs.  A huge, pink, heavily-iced cake was dessert. It didn’t last long! It was quite a thought to realise that the lady carers were having an extra treat: this was probably a very rare chance for them to eat a meal that someone else had cooked. They sang us a beautiful a capella African song to say thank you.

At 5.40pm, we said an emotional farewell to our friends, and they left on the truck as the sun set.
Courtney Moran (Shewsy)    Sam Shantry (Shrewsbury)

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