Archives - Reports June - December, 2009 Report - November 2008 from Brian Cranmer
Week 1
We went to buy more iron sheets and timber for the building in Katakungwa. I was busy getting things ready for the arrival on the 2nd of Annie Bowen-Wright, our volunteer nurse from England. In the end we opted for her to stay at my friend Ireneís house, the Peace Corps worker based in Mchinji, since the CCS rented house is without real security at the moment. Annie arrived and surprisingly there was no real delay with her luggage either.

Week 2
Already into the thick of it we spent most days at the Chiwosya Health Clinic working alongside the midwife nurse Fortina, who lives next door to the clinic so virtually works 24/7 and delivers on average 60 births per month. So Annie was of huge assistance to her, having been a midwife herself. So whilst Richie and I were working at the building site Annie was there helping deliver babies and work at the ante-natal clinic with Fortina. It would usually be the case that upon our way home picking up Annie there could be a serious case of malaria or a woman who needs caesarean section in order to give birth. There are many complications in childbirth here in Malawi, the first of which is just physically getting to a clinic and the last of which can have traumatic consequences on both mother and child, given the poor facilities and cramped environments. One day we had to race a woman in labour to the District hospital with a drip tied to the roof of the vehicle!

Week 3
Fortina does a lot of work; on top of the clinic work she does outreach to other villages too. So in terms of transport she was really struggling and asked us one day if we could buy her a bicycle. We did and to see her joy upon receiving it was worth every cent we paid for it and more. This week was dominated by Annie and I purchasing a lot of medical supplies for the Health Centre; simple things that were necessary for safe and healthy childbirth but things also that Fortina was working without up until now. Here follows a list of some of the implements and equipment we bought for the maternity ward at Chiwosya, from a list compiled by Fortina and Annie:
4 Delivery Packs; 2 Surgical Face Masks; 1 Chord Clamp Scissors; 1 Small Scissors; 1 Tanita Scala; 1 Baby Scale with Basin; 4 Suturing Packs; 2 Digital Thermometers; 4 Heavy Duty Aprons; 6 x 50Box Chord Clamps; 1 Blood Pressure Machine; 1 Box of Folley Catheters.
All of these items have gone a long way in helping Fortina in her work, especially the Umbilical Chord Clamps, as up to now they had been using sterilised wiring!

Week 4
Annie had been of such great help at the clinic and she will be missed there, but at least now through her interventions and her friendship with Fortina we have made a start towards developing and improving the maternity ward there. This is something we can work on in more focus in the New Year. Since Annieís departure we have continued to work on the Nursery building and Pit Latrines, which are just about complete. Weíve furnished further the volunteer house in Mchinji and itís really starting to come together. If only I can find a proper night watch man (in Africa you simply have to have someone watch your house at night since the level of burglary and theft during the night is very high).

Again , I had to extend my visa in order to legally remain in the country but when I come back to begin work in 2009 I will hopefully have a work permit as I will be able to bring the proper documentation back with me (e.g. college certificates etc.). The month has ended with the vehicle once again off the road and it seems it has overworked itself and needs some fine-tuning, and perhaps a little bit of a rest. And I think I do too! Iíll be going home for most of December for a break but no doubt Iíll be rearing to go for the New Year.

This brings my first 6 months working for Chimteka Childrenís Support to a close.
Brian Cranmer.

Report - October 2008 from Brian Cranmer

Week 1

The month began with the purchasing of 19 Irrigation Pumps (one for each of the 17 villages and 2 to be held at the Centre). The so called ĎMoney Makerí Treadle pumps are very efficient and easy to use hand pumps that can be used to draw water from any water source and be distributed through a pipe over a patch of dry land on which people have planted crops. In the recent dry spell this has been a very necessary and worthy investment. So we had the local Agricultural Offices deliver the pumps, along with some seeds for Maize, Beans, Onions and Tomatoes. They even held a 3 day training workshop for free in which they visited each village and demonstrated the proper use and maintenance of the pumps. Each village Chief keeps the pump at his house and villagers borrow it in turn and the Chief is ultimately responsible for keeping it in good working condition.

Along with this we had the final damaged Boreholes repaired. We purchased rods, pumps, tubing etc., anything that was needed to get the pumps back in full working condition. The villagers themselves fixed the pumps, as they had been trained to do when the pumps were first installed. This is a great sign of how training works and is a necessary part of bringing any new technology to a rural community. So now all pumps and boreholes are working well and people are planting all over for the onset of rains, which are due in a few weeks time. Already the afternoons are becoming very humid and there are signs of a shifting climate here, with heavy clouds moving over in the evenings and thunder and lightning threatening to spill rain on the fields. People here are anxious and wait everyday for the sky to open. Thereís a sense of urgency, as if the rains are late then the seeds which have been planted will dry up in the soil and there will be a poor harvest. Life here is very delicately measured by the advent of rainy season. A sign of how climate change can cause great hunger in Africa is that only 2 years ago people here say they could tell the exact date that the rains would start. Now they can only guess the month.

Week 2

The second week was full of excitement as Malawi was building up to a very important football game. They played Democratic Republic of Congo in a the last group match of their Ė get this Ė World Cup Qualifiers to qualify for the World Cup Qualifiers Ö that is, they had to win this game so they could even get through to the qualifying round which would mean they could compete to get a place in the World Cup Finals, to be held in South Africa in 2010. So at the centre we brought extra cables and bought a TV stand and set up the Multi-Purpose Hall so everyone from all around could pack in to see their country compete. DRC went 1-0 up by half time, in a game Malawi were really dominating. Second half was full of missed opportunities. Malawi had only once before reached even the qualifying round proper. So you can imagine the celebrations when Malawi scored twice in the second half and won the game 2-1, beating their neighbours and knocking them out of the competition. We had a good night that night!!

Week 3

In the middle of the month we decided to conduct some Monitoring and Evaluation work so we did some follow up visits to the villages to see how the blankets and mosquito nets had been used. We distributed them in the winter months of June/July, so I wondered if the blankets were being sold off now that the nights were warmer. We did a random spot check on some households and found they were still being used. Most importantly right now was that the mosquito nets were being used. We had focus group discussions with the village elders and ultimately they felt there was a reduction in the prevalence of malaria, particularly among children since the introduction of mosquito nets. This would be one area at the moment which we could focus on more as once the rains come and the malaria outbreaks start a lot of people will be very vulnerable to infection.

At one village we discovered there was a great need for support. The village of Katakungwa is an outer lying village which is quite remote and the land there is very dry and sandy and bad for planting. So the 30 households there are in greater need of support. One thing needed is a new borehole as the one they have is only 9 metres deep and although it had been treated recently the water is not clean, which I found out the hard way by having to drink a cup of water from the well! It was a very hot dry day and I was offered water and food, which would have been very offensive to the villagers to refuse. So I took it, and low and behold got a parasite in my gut which Iím still flushing out with antibiotics. However, itís not that bad, but it is a sign of just how bad things can be here, when even the good water can bring infections.

In Katakungwa also there was a pile of red bricks, which the locals had made, over 2 years ago. They said they couldnít afford to do anything with them and really wanted to build a small nursery/pre-school because they are so far from the main Chimteka centre that their young kids cannot walk there. So we had a meeting and agreed that if they supplied labour and bricks we would bring cement and roofing and so forth. There have been great celebrations in the village over the past few weeks, and now there is a small concrete structure standing on the edge of their mud-hut village, which they are extremely proud of, and should be. The sense of cooperation during this small venture has been overwhelming. I think the cost of the whole thing came to about 600 euro. When I reflect upon that, you couldnít build a garden shed for that in Ireland. And now here in a remote village in Africa a whole community has a nursery school, office and stores room which will give them a huge impetus to educate their younger children and give them the basic literacy skills needed to enter primary school.

Week 4

The purchasing of materials continued during this week, with a lot of procurement of timber, iron sheets, nails, cement etc. for the building in Katakungwa. I think the vehicle took a bit of a hiding due to the severity of the roads in and out. I remember crossing the same village road 2 months ago and the vehicle got stuck as the road collapsed beneath us and we had to have a gang of locals push us out of the maize field and back up on the bicycle track! We also continued furnishing the volunteer house in Mchinji, buying things like mattresses, paraffin stoves (no electricity just yet!), plastic tables and chairs, and machetes (itís hard to find a night watch man as they are usually day labourers who try to make extra money by watching someoneís house at night, or there are few willing to do it). As a result of not having a watchman yet we have been sleeping with machetes under our pillows, just in case anyone tries to break in at night (they would only find mattresses and plastic chairs right now!). Anyway, we have someone now so weíll be sleeping sounder at night and the landlord is building a wall around the house too. By Ďweí, by the way, Iím referring to myself and Richie, an English lad I met in South Africa who liked the sound of our work and came to stay with me over a month ago. Heís been great help and the kids love him so weíve been working hard together this month. My best memory of the month is when we tried delivering 30 iron sheets to the village on the top of the Toyota and finding that they kept slipping decided the only thing to do was for Richie to sit out the window and hold them down while I traversed the ten million bumps and ditches along the way. Team work! But he nearly fell out a few times into the maize fields!

Week 5

In the final week of October we had another ARV delivery day, but on the way there on Monday 27th the vehicle overheated on the main road and by the time I pulled in on the road side the damage had been done. I waited hours for my mechanic friend to come and collect me and tow me back to Lilongwe. In the meantime Iíd called the hospital in Mchinji and asked the clinical officers to rent a car. So they managed to get the drugs to the villagers, which was the only thing that mattered on the day.

Once we got back to Lilongwe, after running a police check point (the mechanic said they would ask for a bribe since towing with a rope is apparently illegal!), it transpired that the radiator and the cylinder head had cracked due to the heat. So unfortunately itís been in the garage all week getting fixed up. It took us 3 days just to find a new part, but it seems to be ok now and weíre ready to get back to work this week.

The month ended positively when Richie decided to stay around another month, and our nurse Annie from England has arrived to work with us for the month of November. As well as that, two English volunteers who have been working at an orphanage called Home of Hope in Mchinji (the one made famous by Madonna) have asked if they could join us. So potentially by the start of November thereíll be 5 of us.

It makes that 4 hours I waited the other day at Immigrations to get my visa extension all that little bit more worthwhile.

Brian.

Report Ė September 2008 from Brian Cranmer

Week 1
We finished the first four classrooms at Chimteka Primary School and all the students are continuing term three in a much cleaner, brighter and healthier environment. There are four other classrooms remaining, which are not in such a bad state, but still need to be painted and cracks in the walls and floors to be filled in. After this is done the whole Primary school will look uniformly clean and new.

Some of the older orphans who have excelled and moved on to Secondary schools in Lilongwe and outside of Chimteka needed school fees to be paid or else they would not be allowed to sit examinations and would have been expelled from the schools so we paid the fees. This is a huge problem all over Africa, even where Governments introduce free education. School fees, books, transport and lunch money must still be paid. Uniforms must be purchased. Things we take for granted at home. Many families, even when fees are abolished, still cannot afford to put their children to school.

Week 2
I requested quotations for the construction of 4 teacherís houses at our site in Chimteka. We need to entice the District Education Manager into assigning primary school teachers to the area. We are already under- resourced and with a new school waiting to be utilised itís becoming more and more urgent that we have the facilities for teachers to come to such a rural area and be able to bring their families. So we are building the houses and negotiating with the District officers to bring more teachers into the area. Then we can relieve at least some of the pressure which the existing Primary school is currently under where pupil to teacher ratios are as high as 80:1.

Overall in Malawi it is estimated that there is a shortage of 100,000 Primary Teachers alone. As it transpired the architect whom I had sat down with and sketched plans and requested a quotation from resigned in the week that followed. No wonder I couldnít reach him by phone or email! I just thought he was busy so I left him be for a few weeks! Luckily he had passed on our request to the manager.

Week 3
I took vacation this week in Johannesburg and was going to visit a VMM friend of mine in South Africa. Unfortunately a few days prior to departure I became ill with a heavy dose of Malaria. I travelled anyway, taking the prescribed medication. I had suffered with Malaria a few times before in Kenya and Uganda and expected the medication to work. But this time it didnít and I relapsed in JoíBurg and spent all my holidays taking medicine and sleeping while I sweated out the fever! Apparently, the Malawi strain is becoming renowned as a strong and increasingly persistent strain of malaria in southern Africa. I returned from JoíBurg on September 25th, badly in need of a holiday!

Week 4
I managed to chase down the manager of Brothers Construction Company, who had previously been involved at Chimteka, building the new Primary School and the Multi-Purpose Hall and he came with me to Chimteka to view the site and after drawing a rough sketch plan of 4 houses (2 semi-detached) we discussed with the Committee there the best place to build and he gave us a quotation for the work and assured us they could be completed in time for the next academic year in January 2009. This will be crucial if we are to get teachers from the towns into the rural areas to work with us.

We have ordered 20 of the new hybrid treadle pumps from the Department of Agriculture. They will deliver them in the first week of October and give full training to each village. The pumps will come with tomato and onion seed, plus some fertiliser. This is good timing as people are now beginning to plant and prepare their fields for the rains which will come in November.

However, as of now, it still hasnít rained in this region of Malawi since April and the land is extremely hot and dry. We are now approaching the mid-30s at mid-day. Iím moving this week to Mchinji to be nearer to the project. The next few months will be very busy. Iím still struggling to learn some Chichewa so I can communicate with people in the villages. Itís quite difficult, rooted in the same origins as Swahili, which I could speak quite well, but much more difficult.
From now on Iíll only spend weekends in Lilongwe where at least I can get to follow the struggles of Man Utd as they try to pick up this season where they left off last time. Malawia ns are mostly Arsenal and Chelsea fans! I have many winnable debates with Malawian football fans here about whoíll win the premiership this season! Thank God thereís at least one language here we can all communicate in!

More next month. Brian.

Report Ė August 2008 from Brian Cranmer
Week 1
Dust floors before                     Clean new floors after

For the first two weeks of the month I went to Chimteka every day, and this is reflected in the fact that I ran out of my fuel budget by August 10th! But I wanted to finish off the work that had been started on the renovation of the Primary School Classrooms. So there was a lot of procurement and delivery to be done. We had to purchase and transport a lot of bags of cement from Kamwendo trading centre and take them inland to the school. In addition, we needed paint for the lower half of the walls, plus lime and whitewash for the upper half. Also, we had to get paraffin and pay the labourers on a weekly basis.
Kids on the new Standard 5 classroom floor
In total, there were 10 people working on the classrooms (1 Foreman/Contractor, 4 Builders, 2 Mixers (for the cement), 1 Painter and 2 Women who fetched water from the nearby well and brought it to the site for the mixers to prepare cement). The local community had already contributed quite a lot of sand and ballast (small stones broken from larger rocks) which would be vital in securing a steady foundation for the cement. These had been carried over the previous two weeks from quarries and sandbanks in the backs of hand carts and ox-carts. There was a tremendous communal effort involved in improving the standard of the classrooms for the children of the Chimteka area over the past month.

By the end of the week the vehicle needed servicing and an oil change and it was also found in time that the Timing Belt needed changing. Mechanics make a lot of money in Africa because the terrain is so rugged that vehicles need constant servicing and spare parts.

Week 2

A VMM volunteer was due to arrive in Lilongwe, en route to Chipata, just over the Malawi/Zambia border. Flying to Lusaka would have meant a 10 hour bus journey for him, so Lilongwe made sense, being only 1 hour from the border. Unfortunately, Desís luggage didnít arrive. So he stayed with me and fortunately helped out quite a lot in terms of sharing the driving to and from the project and in purchasing some equipment and being generally a great volunteer to have around. The children loved his singing and albeit a short stay, he made it worth while.

During this week we bought a lot of sports equipment and recreational things. A local football league had just kicked off so our Chimteka boys asked if we could fit them out with some t-shirts. We went one better and got shorts and socks too (no boots though as they prefer to play bare-footed). Lots of footballs and pumps too. So they started their tournament in the height of pride, looking sharp in their red jerseys, and winning 2-1 against local rivals Chioka village.

We bought a sewing machine also that week and introduced the idea of starting a womenís co-operative, either to make money at family level or for the Chimteka CBO itself. Weíll discuss it soon. But at the moment itís being used at Chimteka to make and repair uniforms for the primary kids. If itís maintained well we can look at getting a room/workshop type set up, with maybe 8 or 10 machines servicing the local trade centre and the profit and experience will benefit a lot of women around the area.
Old Standard 6 classroom
We bought also some more materials for classroom repairs and they now look so much better than when Iíd arrived. Theyíve gone from being dark, dingy, dusty sheds to being bright, clean, healthy environments for learning, with concrete floors instead of sand and dirt. You should have seen the smiles on the kids as they started the new term in their bright and clean new classrooms! Brilliant. Next step is to get desks made. Letís finish up the painting first though!

Week 3

We started this week with the purchasing of a brand new 21 inch TV screen, plus a DVD player and alternative power sources so that we can have perhaps a TV room set up with an hour or two a day after school of educational programmes (science/nature for instance) and also for music and cartoons. So Iíll meet the voluntary committee and decide on the use of it soon.

After Des left for Zambia I put time into relocating to Mchinji, in order to cut the expenditure on fuel and the time involved in travelling. Iíve stayed in a room Iíve rented from a Peace Corps volunteer there. And after some searching around (thereís a shortage of good housing there and securing one is quite competitive!) weíve secured a newly built house at the back of the vegetable market and will await the facilities to be put in before moving there. It still needs electricity, septic tank and water to be installed. The landlord says itíll take a week, but I know from experience here that itís more likely to be three or four weeks! How and ever, itís a good house and will suit us for all future volunteers coming to work at Chimteka.

Cosmas in ARV room                                               Earnest giving ARVs
We had the local carpenters in the village put together a wooden examination couch with a mattress on top, for the ARV room. Weíll use it in the hall also for the VCT centre once it begins. But for now we have agreed on a programme of Anti-Retro Viral drug delivery for those in the community living with HIV/AIDs (about 130 in total at present, but this figure will grow as people will surely feel more comfortable confiding locally than in the bigger town). The clinical officerís name is Cosmas and is very professional and I pick him up on the 29th of each month thereabouts, and he comes for the day to see about 15 at a time. Patients are staggered in their dosages, so those who came this week will come again in 2 months time and so forth.

The idea of bringing drugs from the hospital to the multi-purpose hall has been spoken of with immense gratitude at the local level.

Week 4

Once more in Malawi there has been a huge shortage of fuel in the country. Apparently itís the same in Zambia. Diesel is scarcer than petrol. As I set off to Mchinji last week I had to wait at Petroda (the only petrol station in town with diesel) at a queue which took me one and a half hours to get through before luckily filling the tank and setting off to work.

Iíve been awaiting a site plan of the catchment area from the Ministry of Lands regional office in Mchinji, but these things take time and a lot of reminding. Iím in contact with the Minister for Energy about bringing electricity to Chimteka. Theyíre busy with government stuff at the moment so weíll do the usual political dance for a little while longer. He seems very keen to meet though, once heís less busy than now.

An English man I met who was travelling through claims he has a company with a lot of reconditioned computers that heíd like to give us (transport paid). Iíd need to have customs clear them but they could be a great addition to the centre once we do get electricity. He has been in touch by email and hopefully something will come of that too.

As for more volunteers, now that we have a place to house them near the project, I think we should be looking to welcome some VMM people by the new year, with a little luck. Thereís lots of work to do, quite a lot done already. Weíll keep pushing on and continue in the manner weíve been progressing in so far. The Chimteka committees are all very dedicated to the development of the area. We all are. So at the 3 month stage I can say that Iím very happy with how things have kicked off and we have a good foundation now for the programme. Sadly, still not a drop of rain! Lucky I donít burn easily! Until next month.
Brian.

Report - July 2008 from Brian Cranmer

Week 1
Wendyís arrival in Malawi was delayed due to a flight cancellation in London. I visited Chiosya Clinic for more discussions regarding the development of the site and I asked the Voluntary Committee to begin drawing up a draft development plan/strategy for the clinic (which upon receipt a few days later was merely a list of things they need!). Wendy arrived on Friday 4th July. Her luggage didnít! I showed her around Lilongwe that weekend and helped her settle in. We made a plan on the Sunday afternoon for the 2 weeks ahead and decided to focus on the use of the Recreation/Educational Account given by CCS just a week earlier.

Week 2
The Monday was very busy as it was the first day Wendy visited the project. We had a welcome ceremony and the usual rounds of introductions and visits. We went to the primary and secondary school in the afternoon and came back to Lilongwe that night to eat with Fr. Julian at his house. The next day Wendyís luggage arrived but it still took over an hour and a half to release it from customs. We went to Mchinji that day also to visit the District Offices, particularly to see the District Health Officer, but he wasnít there. We had been pushing for weeks to get a health officer to come deliver ARV drugs to some 150 PLW Hiv/Aids who otherwise must travel 88kms 3 days per week to collect them. We left messages of intent with his deputy!

We met also with the District Education Manager and despite his politeness didnít seem to want to give anything away. He made no commitments to providing us with teachers. We pushed and stressed how we had a new primary school and were about to build teacherís accommodation and hoped to receive 4 teachers by January but he made no promises and only said that other places have been prioritised.

There was no diesel on the Wednesday so we took to the backstreets of Lilongwe market instead in search of bails of clothing that we had decided to buy for the kids. So many of the orphans are literally wearing rags and half dressed and we wanted to use some of the money from the blanket fund to help clothe them, particularly with nights being so cold in the rural areas. We ordered 9 bails for the next day. Next day there was still no diesel in town so we didnít risk the 210 km round trip to Chimteka. Instead we collected the bails and bought educational materials and sorted through everything once we had stored everything at the house.




On Friday there was diesel so we delivered half of the clothes and toys and spent the day with the kids. Wendy called it ĎFun Fridayí!

Week 3
There was still no diesel in town on the Monday so we went to meet Matthews Banda, the journalist from the local Catholic radio station Anilafe. We negotiated the plans for the next dayís filming (provided we could get out there!) and the cost etc. Diesel lorries arrived and we scrambled for fuel and on the Tuesday had a great day, though very long, at the centre filming over 3 hours of material, including interviews.

We also delivered the rest of the clothes and educational material. The clothes distribution is on video and as far as I remember no matter how organised we attempted to make it the kids just scrambled and cried and shouted but despite the chaos everyone got something to wear and there was a good feeling at the end of the day with kids all standing around in brand new jumpers and shirts, albeit second-hand, all the way from Canada!
The rest of the week at Chimteka Wendy spent with the pre-school and the caregivers and having drawn up an inventory of the materials we purchased she worked through storage and safekeeping with the volunteers there. I spent much of the time at the primary school making plans for the classroom renovations for standards 4 Ė 7. Julian took us to dinner at the end of the week to see Wendy off.

Week 4
Wendy left on 21st July. She took with her the video tapes for RTE and some photos Iíd given her from my first 2 months which Iíd tried many times to send as attachments over the internet, but the connection here is slow and unreliable at the best of times. Very frustrating actually! Anyways, I hope you can use some of the photos for the website or for the schools or fundraising or however you deem fit.

Iíd had a very bad chest infection for a few weeks which Wendy had been telling me I should see about so after sheíd left I took a day to see the doctor and low and behold he told me it was extremely bad and I should avoid the dusty roads and dry air for a few days. So I spent the rest of that week taking heavy antibiotics and laid up at home bored until it cleared up. Iíd feared I might have had malaria too but having tested negative for that I presume I was just tired and dehydrated. However, first drop of rain since I arrived came for a few minutes while Wendy was here, so I was delighted with that! I think she took a picture for proof!

Week 5
Julian had given me about Ä500 donated from one of the Scottish schools which I decided to put to use and have bought 2 tonnes of cement and some paint and we are currently renovating the 4 classrooms at the primary which up to now had only dirt floors. I expect the job to take 3 weeks in total and a lot of local labour was hired for it. In the end all classrooms will have solid concrete floors and painted walls and I hope to appeal further to Scotland to fund desks and blackboards and a few other things.

Iíd been looking for somewhere to stay in Mchinji in my free time and found a room in the Peace Corps house there so will rent it for the month of August from an American lady living there (total about Ä90 for the month). Iíll spend more time in Mchinji and this month find a house to rent for about the same rate so that I can cut down on fuel expenditure and spend more time close to the project. We have a meeting Monday with the HIV/AIDs group and a health officer from the District and our requests have been met positively. We will be able as of end of this month to deliver Anti-Retro Viral Drugs from Mchinji District Hospital to our centre 3 days a week, saving a lot of time and energy for some very sick people. At present Francis is on a 3 week HIV Counselling Course in Mchinji, funded by the Government. He will be running up the VCT Room once we get the equipment in next month. I will phase out of Lilongwe over coming months and set up CCS Project House in Mchinji.

Plans for this month are to focus on Repairing Boreholes and to purchase some Treadle Pumps, although a friend here working with irrigation (well he sells pumps!) said they are not the best option. Iíll meet with him again for some advice. I want to draw up something for the clinic as well as start the teacherís accommodation. Apologies for not getting around to that; I will liase with Catherine this month on plans etc. and get Brothers Construction to make a start.

We will be starting the ARV Programme from Mchinji and the VCT will follow. Electricity was something I was holding off on until I could properly meet with Julian. As of now heís in Balaka and Salima a lot but now that things have settled a bit we should have more time to meet in a formal capacity. The volunteer nurse from England has indicated October/November will suit her best and I am about to submit requests to VMM for long-term volunteers in Health, Education and Agriculture. My personal interests will lie with getting things moving at the Clinic but with so much going on at once Iím trying to just balance and prioritise at present. As you can see from the accounts however I think we have been spending reasonably and from now on our expenditure should be far more targeted. The vehicle is running well although it needs servicing at the minute.

We purchased 6 bicycles for the centre and will meet with caregivers and volunteers tomorrow on drawing up regulations/agreement on their use. The 4 caregivers in particular who work at the pre-school have great need of transport, but if I give them out as being privately owned, everyone will want a bike then! So the deal is to sign them in and out and not allow them to bring them home at weekends. If managed well I would like to explore as an Income Generating Project, the purchase of 10-20 bicycles which can be rented out locally per week and used as public transport by a co-operative based at the Centre. Also, sewing machines have great success at a local level. Thatís all for July. Letís see what August brings. Brian.

Report - June 2008 from Brian Cranmer
Well, I'm settling in fine, Lilongwe is a small, quiet but nice capital city, not much to report on that side of things! All the usual amenities are close at hand and there are plenty of other NGOs and Missionary groups around the neighbourhood. I'm meeting some Concern people tonight and I've paid a few visits to the White Fathers, who've been very helpful.

I've gone to Chimteka three times in the first week. Each visit has been incredible. The community are amazing in terms of what they have achieved so far as a CBO. I'm very impressed with the set up there, and particularly with Francis, who is so well connected and very highly respected all round. We called a meeting on Tuesday of all those who are living with HIV/AIDs, or at least those who have come out and requested help. There's a support group which helps access ARV drugs for them. The group's youngest is 7 years old, and the oldest is easily 60 something. A lot of them are suffereing with TB now and are very weak. Their main obstacle is that they have to travel individually 44 miles to Mchinji Hospital to get their medicines, 3 days a week! so we decided it was critical to have the ARVs transported to Chimteka instead. Myself and Frances went to Mchinji yesterday and met with the District Health Officer. He eventually agreed to a deal whereby he will give us an outreach officer/nurse on monday, wednesday and friday ... if we supply the transport. So the quicker we get a vehicle (or two) we can save people a lot of unnecessary travel.

Another thing that came out of a group discussion last week was the immediate need for blankets, and also mosquito nets, for the orphans and for people living with HIV (PLWH). It is cold at night, i'm even finding it hard to sleep and i'm not huddled in a little shack around a fire. So we've ordered 1500 blankets and nets (to prevent pneumonia and malaria). Nets are going to cost about 5000 euro total (1500 x 700Kwacha) and i haven't gotten a quote yet on blankets but probably around 10000 euro.

The schools are in dire need of support also, there are 200 kids per classroom and the rooms have no concrete floors! so i'll put together something soon to send to the schools in Scotland asking for their support. We need to renovate the classrooms first off, then build teacher's accommodation and more importantly a hostel for the girls, who at the moment are sleeping in two dark filthy rooms with 33 girls per room. not good. So i'm not sure if we can allocate money straight off for any of those. let me get quotations done, which they're doing on materials needed by tomorrow, and then Francis and I will get estimates locally for concrete, iron sheets, lime wash, etc.

On the side of volunteers we definitely need 2. One ... a nurse or medical professional/social worker even with expertise or knowledge in HIV/AIDs. Two ... an agriculturalist/agronomist (is that the right term?) ... there was a poor harvest this year and already people are selling whatever they have. The government admitted yesterday there's going to be an impending food crisis in the country so you can imagine, Chimteka will be hit bad, however, if we can get some small-scale stuff going it would be great on a household level. No shortage of water. they have asked for more tools and fertilisers and actually we need to grab a truck load of this stuff here called Vita Meal which the government gives for free (it's a high nutrition porrige for kids). we'll get some after we get a vehicle. So, lots going on at once.

My friend Wendy arrives July 1st and will stay 3 weeks. She's a primary teacher. Decided to put her in charge of a couple of things! one being the recreation room (we'll put in a tv run off solar, you wanna see their faces when we suggested that one!- also some simple games like table tennis and we'll get footballs and stuff, they're currently kicking a bit of rubber about! ... and hopefully a small library). There are four rooms empty in the communal hall. Going to make an office out of one, games room out of the other. not sure yet about other two, but we'll see. plenty of ideas firing around out there. I love how involved the community are ... i'm more used to turning up and having people tell me to fix this do that ... this is a welcome change for me! So. nothing else major at the moment, first week was great. Next week I'll focus on meeting with the building contractors and getting those nets and blankets delivered. hopefully we'll have our own vehicle by then.

Brian Cranmer, a VMM Missionary
We are delighted to announce that we in Chimteka Children Support are taking our Charity on to a higher level. The Voluntary Mission Movement (VMM) has appointed Brian Cranmer, as a missionery to Chimteka. He will fly out to Lilongwe on 26th May.

Brian is well qualified with lots of experience in Africa and South America. He goes with a long wish list including supervision of all our projects like the building of volunteer accomodation, bore holes, provision of electricity, health care etc.

While this is happening Brian needs proper accomodation and an office to work from in Lilongwe the Capital. We are hoping for a person or company to sponsor Brian's accomodation for the first year - a figure of Ä5000.

During or after this time the volunteer accommodation in Chimteka should be ready. We hope to post regular blogs of Brian's experiences, direct from Chimteka on our home page, so watch that spot. Any questions you may have for Brian, may be entered in our link "Messages" on the Home page. We will reply.


Contact Chimteka Children Support