Archives - Reports January - June, 2010
    Report-January 2010, John Harrison
    Report-March 2010, John Harrison
    Report-May 2010, John Harrison
    Report-February 2010, John Harrison
    Report-April 2010, John Harrison
    Report-June 2010, John Harrison

    Report-June 2010, John Harrison
    Click on each picture to enlarge it
    Water and Sanitation
    Given confirmation of the Water Sanitation Project and will start the process by asking the community to start moulding bricks (ready for latrine construction). May have to alter our tentative program slightly!!

    Take four orthopedic patients for treatments at Mchinji District Hospital and decide to have another go at persuading the DHO to connect Chioshya Health Centre to mains electric. DHO has another Doctorr with him at the time and after talking for a while about maternal health, I slip in about the importance of lighting at Chioshya. He agrees we can wire it up and connect, rush and get the hospital electrician to provide a quotation and head back to Chioshya with him.
    All the Chimteka Outreach clinics have been scheduled to take place today, Thursday 24th i.e.
    ARV -1 nurse
    Orthopedic-1 Clinical Officer Epilepsy-1 nurse
    CTC-2 Health Surveillance Assistants
    Slightly anxious about doing all together and get off to a terrible start when the keys for the ARV clinic office (containing all ARV medication in Mchinji District!!) are lost, eventually told that the lady with the keys has gone to a funeral (all Malawians love funerals!) 30km away; go and pick her up and then return to MDH and collect rest of the team. After delivering lady back to the funeral (she insisted) and picking up CTC team from Kochelera get to Chimteka about 12pm.
    All our offices are full of different clinical teams and patients but the whole day is successful although slightly exhausting!
    Take two blind boys for an assessment with a specialist (Dr Rajendrah) at Kamuzu Central Hospital. I am disappointed that both have irreparable damage but receive letters of recommendation from the Doctor that they should attend vocational training. Evelyne has given me details of a (free) vocational school that we can contact; she is at the World Cup in S.Africa!!

    Asked a local joiner (trained by CCS at Don Bosco Technical in Lilongwe) to construct a special box for holding our rapidly expanding number of medical files for people with disabilities/epilepsy

    Travel again to Lilongwe for Vitameal. Feed the Children accepted our application to include Katakungwa CBCC (newly formed pre-school) into the Vitameal program and will soon give us an allocation of 400kg of vitameal per month. They can use the fuel efficient stove and cooking utensils donated by UNICEF.
    We distributed the Vitameal collected from Lilongwe with dire warnings that it must only be used for the benefit of the children or the program will be instantly stopped. Agreed with Francis to have regular visits to make sure it is being utilized correctly. It will really help the nutrition status/health of the kids attending the CBCC by being able to have one very filling meal per day.
    Collected the mobile CTC clinic from Kochelera hospital.
    I am still struggling to get any meaningful data on malnourished children and have also noticed a fair amount of the Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (peanut butter) meant for infants is disappearing into the Health Surveillance Assistants bags. All these programs of supplementary feeding suffer from a high degree of loss, difficult to approach because as long as the children receive food it is hard for us to complain as the product is being supplied by the Ministry of Health and those distributing it are Ministry of Health employees.

    Visit District Education Manager’s (DEM) office just to “touch base” but also to discuss Special Needs Education and what the possibilities are for deaf/mute learners also send a letter to Mulanji Vocational training college for two blind young adults.
    Go back to Mchinji, 29th, and meet District Education Manager (DEM) to discuss the connection of two blocks to mains electric at Chimteka Full Primary. He is very happy about the work we have conducted at the school (refurbishment) and says the school is hopefully going to become a “model” school, I think the connection is going to make a very big difference to the educational opportunities for the kids as well as being a good resource for Chimteka Trading Centre-night adult education etc.
    Look into changing the specs for the Library shelves and manage to cut down the price of the quote without compromising quality. Library shelf construction begins in the Hall.
    Still working on “A day in the life of Chimteka 2 Primary” report for 11 schools for 1 (Liz Smith)

    Receive a quote from electrician for wiring two blocks of Chimteka Full Primary of 100,000 MKw for materials and labour; (approx. 199 MKw to 1 euro).
    The CBO have decided to purchase satellite TV (using there own funds), so I collected dish and decoder and had to queue for hours to complete registration for DsTV. Collected the satellite TV installer from Mchinji and he fitted the dish etc onto the hall. The whole process took over 9 hours but eventually we watched the 4pm game.
    It is good seeing the hall full and from Sunday people will be charged per game (20mkw adults and 10Mkw kids). Was slightly skeptical about sat TV but I can see many benefits as the hall can be used as a community cinema and the revenue from the W/C should pay for a large percentage of the capital costs of the sat TV installation.
    It is turning out to be a great success and a good income generating activity, people usually go to bed early but many are staying up for the late World Cup matches but everyone was upset about the loss last night of Ghana in the W/Cup quarter finals witnessed by many in the Hall.
    On return to Mchinji go and see ESCOM about connection fee (after receiving a letter giving the go ahead from the Mchinji hospital administrator) for health centre and also ask about the Chimteka connection quote. Hopefully start work on wiring ASAP before anyone can change there minds!!
    Also receive the quotation from ESCOM of 9,500 Mkw, regarding the connection of Chimteka full primary school to the mains:
    I can hardly believe my eyes when at 8am a team of 6 guys from ESCOM turns up at Chimteka to undertake a detailed line survey (never been done before, previous quote based on theoretical data), regarding the electrification quote - a full day exercise and I am promised the detailed quote will be ready next Monday.

    Engine for Maize Mill
    I personally think the re-introduction of the maize mill has the potential to become a good income generating activity. The (good) infrastructure is all in place the only thing needed is an engine. The previous engines supplied by MASAF (within Mchinji District) all failed within three years due to there inferior (Chinese construction). If a decent engine had been supplied in the first place it is possible the IGA would still be operating. After preliminary discussions with the CBO regarding the maize mill, they suggested that if an engine was supplied it could be considered on a “loan basis” and after paying operating costs profit would be kept back until the value of the engine had been reached. Another possibility I considered was that the CBO could pay a percentage cost of the new engine (say 50,000 Mkw) from the money they have in the bank so the project was truly a joint partnership.
    The nearest grinding mills are in Chimteka Trading Centre (Electric and diesel) and Kamengerira (1km) predicted usage of a mill at Chimteka would be at least 9 villages. The project would be managed by a committee set up by the CBO although rather than volunteers it has been suggested that one or two paid “employees” are responsible for the day to day running of the mill. These would probably be young people who have few other employment opportunities and would be closely supervised by the mill committee.

    Employment and Enterprise
    Doll making workshop taking place in the hall, as the Social Welfae Office is trying to reduce the dependence on poorly constructed (Chinese) manufactured toys.

    We are recovering from the leaving party of Irene Westbury, although hopefully she will return to Malawi as an employee of Peace Corp USA (responsible for Peace Corp response volunteers. I also met Irene’s replacement (Mike) who seems like a thoroughly good guy and he has asked if we can keep our set of keys for the house (Irene’s) and leave our bed in one of the rooms as we are welcome any time which is INCREDIBLY useful when stays in Mchinji are unavoidable or when rest and relaxation are needed.
    Hear from VMM that Brian will be visiting us at the beginning of July and we are all very excited, especially myself as without Brian’s influence on me in Ireland I would not be writing this from Malawi!
    I applied for two courses though the in country training scheme offered by Misean Cara through VMM:
    • Francis: “Formulating and writing successful proposals” at the Malawi Institute of Management
    • Me: “HIV Testing and Counseling” run by the Lighthouse Trust
    On visits to Lilongwe:
    • Submit Foreign Currency Denominated Account (FCDA) form sent by Carol at National Bank of Malawi
    • Use high speed internet at Capital Hotel in Lilongwe to send pictures to Carol, 11 Schools for 1 (Liz Smith) and Dr Gaby (update on the distribution of her nets).
    • Purchase some items for wiring at Chioshya Health Centre from electrical wholesalers e.g. Fluorescent tube holders 4,800 Mkw-Mchinji but find them for 2,400 Mkw in Lilongwe (we need 13, making a big difference to costs). Meet up with the hospital electrician again to make sure everything is in order.
    • Go into National Bank of Malawi and ask if our Euros have arrived in the FCDA account yet but still no sign, the manager assures me the account will become active as soon as they arrive.
    Report-May 2010, John Harrison

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    Education and Recreation
    •The Peace Corp have asked me to assist them with an assessment of Chimteka Secondary School with a view to placing an Education Volunteer in the future.
    • The training of a Librarian for 5 days is to begin next week (24th). We have chosen Shadrick to be the volunteer Librarian due to his reliability and dedication plus good English Language abilities. Irene donated us a very useful book published by Peace Corps about setting up a small library. We pay an annual subscription of 500 Mkw and the National Library based in Lilongwe will supply us with books on a 6 monthly basis starting with 100 and gradually increasing. Not sure of the quality of books and I would presume most are in English which could be a bit problematic for many people. At present we get many publications from organizations regarding many issues (HIV, Orphans etc) that could be placed here for the use of all. Also in the longer term people could be given access to IT and visual/sound media in this area.

    Employment and Enterprise
    Trying to think of some income generating activities, the most obvious is the grinding mill with the infrastructure already in place. It was a great success until the engine went bang and lead to a lot of income being generated for the CBCC and the paying of schools fees for a number of orphans.
    All that is required is A new engine; a cheaper Indian manufactured unit would be approx 250,000 Mkw, (€1,400) with a life of 3 to 4 years or a better option but double the price would be a Lister but if properly maintained could last indefinitely. The next problem/issue would be the day to day running of the mill as previously it was managed by a team of volunteers with the problem of no one person taking responsibility for maintenance of the unit or management of the cash. Another option could be the employment of one or two young people/orphans (in shifts) to be responsible for maintenance and monetary affairs with a close supervision by ourselves of course!!

    Fundraising afternoon at French Corner. We take our local band that incorporates two people with disabilities; a blind percussionist and wheel chair bound guitarist. The band play very well using local made instruments (including guitars made from old tin containers and percussion made from anything that makes a different noise when you hit it!!). The turnout is not that great but people donate some good articles of clothing and 45kg of children’s blankets that should benefit the disabled community.

    Farming and Gardens
    • The yield of maize in the school and community garden and in the local community in general was good; comparable with 2007.
    The drying crib constructed by CCS is 3/4 full and it will be interesting to see how much there is when it is transferred in to the silo after shilling and treating.
    • The Soya harvest from the community garden with the volunteers is a good although some of the crop has been pilfered and the sun has caused the pods to split and shed some of the beans.
    •Bean Harvest also good

    The collection of the Vitameal allocation from the Office of the President for People living with Hiv and Aids Program (PLWHA) is going to suddenly end when the collaboration between PLWHA and Feed the Children is terminated because of rampant abuse of vitameal allocations.
    • 107 children’s blankets were collected by Evelynne.
    • A man comes to the office with a huge abscess on his neck, something more the size you would expect on a cow rather than a human as he has heard we have medical provisions. Unfortunately I explain that we exist to support the capacity of the already existing health service rather than replace it and advise with some regret that he follows the correct (and often v.slow) channels. This happens quite often that people come to us seeking assistance and we unfortunately have to turn them away, as although I can use my position to cut through a lot of bureaucracy; I only like to do this in really critical medical emergencies.
    • The Motorcycle Ambulance trailer is ready for collection in Lusaka. Regarding operation of the MAT the DHO offered his full support and promised to make available a motorcycle, fuel and driver for this pilot program. I hope he keeps his promise….
    Set off for Lusaka with Francis and my mechanic (and friend) from Mchinji, Sylvester. Cross the Malawi border at 9 am with no difficulties but have to pay carbon tax, temporary export permit and buy 30 days insurance before being allowed to enter Zambia.
    At 7pm after traveling over 600km reach Zambia. Stay in a lodge on the outskirts of the city in a “family room”….pretty strange looking family.
    Pickup the MAT from Disacare-very interesting project with disabled people making mobility products for the physically impaired including wheelchairs, bicycle ambulances, walkers, tricycles etc got pictures.
    The MAT is very well made but a little concerned about the size…lets wait for the trial results.
    People at disacare are extremely friendly and we stay far too long chatting and even get involved in helping them make a promotional video…set off much later than planned for the journey back.
    Reach Malawi Border at 10:30pm and I am worried about getting across the border with paper work etc. Need not have worried as after taking 10 minutes to wake up the immigration officer he was not interested in forms of any kind and just stamps everything.
    • Take a sick boy who lives near Chimteka to the hospital, he has been suffering from sickle cell anemia; this is about his fourth time to be admitted. We have given him lifts to Lilongwe Hospital and he has even been to Blantyre to seek treatment. I remember taking him into hospital in November when I was sure he would not be coming out again…he was so sick. He has unfortunately suffered complete paralysis of his legs but his parents are very dedicated in trying to look for assistance.
    • Evelyne undertakes clinic for 5 children and seems to be very happy with the results she is achieving. The disabled children really are the poorest of the poor and it is great that Evelyne is able to assist them and just as important is her work in showing that the parents are supported and are not alone in the care of their children.
    • At a residential meeting with Francis in Lilongwe with UNICEF and its partners, I learnt that UNICEF no longer wants to be seen as a donor but as a partner in development. Proposed new strategies are:

    UNICEF partners (Chimteka CBO) to approach them at the very beginning of the process of formulating a development strategy and commit to a PCA (Program Cooperation Agreement) for funding over $20,000. Then working in partnership to develop the proposal and ultimately implement the objectives.

    Otherwise organizations can make a small scale Funding Application (SSFA), for amounts less than $20,000.
    • A local T/A-chief in the District dies; (T/A Zulu), involving everyone in the preparation for the funeral. He is not a Chechewa (like the majority of people) but a Ngoni meaning he is buried sitting down clutching a spear and shield with lots of dancing etc.
    • Annie, a nurse who is associated with Woldingham, is visiting in November and is taking baby clothes knitted by a kind lady. She says: “Nick Gras, Tony Cole and I have agreed to donate £2500 which can be spent on essential items needed in Chimteka and part -fund my travel expenses, although I shall keep this to a minimum. You will probably be in the best position to decide on how to spend the money. “
    Report-April 2010, John Harrison

    Click on each picture to enlarge it
    Farming and Gardens
    • The school committee harvested the maize in the school garden supported by CCS. Due to the long distance of the fields to the CBO, 5 trips were made in the CCS vehicle to transport maize back to the silo. The yield is very good even though we were not able to give the crop two dressings of fertilizer due to adverse weather conditions. The school and community maize are stored in the same silo but are being kept separate due to problems of separating the maize in previous years

    • The CTC (Community Therapeutic Care) appears to have very few beneficiaries at present (less than 15) as the general level of local peoples nutrition status has improved greatly with the harvesting of crops. Harvest time and in particular the sale of tobacco has resulted with many people having larger amounts of “disposable” income and the number of people in the beer halls and drinking the local brews has increased greatly!!
    • CARD-Church Action Relief Development are undertaking training of farmers at the CBO to help improve marketing of maize. Many farmers lose out when maize is purchased by unscrupulous dealers at rock bottom prices. CARD is trying to group farmers together and then identify reliable buyers who are willing to pay a fair price.
    • Harvest the beans that we planted in January from the CCS supported community garden, a fairly good crop and the Soya we planted is going to be quite high yielding
    • Had a great holiday visiting a lady (Rita) and her French husband (Phillipe) who has been assisting Chimteka with tree planting; her home is in the Lower Shire river valley.

    • Evelyne and Gaby come to Chimteka to conduct a malaria workshop for parents of disabled children. Gaby will return to the USA on the 7th of May with her husband Mark and they will be missed as they have done some great work and have become our (Francis and me) good friends. They purchased 470 more mosquito nets for€1,700, which were distributed to children under 5. My main concern is that those that receive nets (worth around €3.75 each) do not instantly sell them.
    • Collect school health team from Mchinji District Hospital at 8am, consists of 3 nurses and 2 clinical officers. The outbreak of ringworm has been very nasty. The nurses and clinical officers assess these cases first in the Community Hall and then investigate other conditions that children are suffering from, a big exercise… The nurses and clinical officers then write prescriptions to be given to parents/guardians rather than distributing medicines directly to children.I ask the team if we can have the same program at Chimteka Full next week. I think we are very lucky to get the team as they have not conducted screenings like this in the District for a long time. We make sure that they are well looked after…. nice lunch, well prepared rooms, drive them back to there front doors etc.
    • Arrange date of health screening of CBCC children and Primary children (Chimteka II) with various medical conditions.
    • We have a meeting with the DHO who is very supportive of the potential program of the proposed pilot ambulance trailer project in conjunction with Imperial College (UK) and pledges a number of resources; motorcycle, fuel, driver etc. He advises on collection of Motorcycle Ambulance trailer asap.
    • At the same meeting, we discuss a major outbreak of ringworm among the CBCC and Primary School Children, also a number of children are suffering from tooth decay. The DHO agrees to liaise with the schools health coordinator and I promise to make our resources available to transport the team to Chimteka/Chioshya health centre on the date of assessments.
    •A motorcycle ambulance trailer has been found that may offer more flexibility as we would also have a motorcycle that could be used for other purposes when the trailer is disconnected. The unit has been developed by Imperial College (UK).

    • Epilepsy and Orthopedic outreach clinic; collect team regularly from Mchinji District Hospital. Large numbers of people are know gathering for epilepsy medication and results appear good also large numbers of people with orthopedic conditions have know been treated on site with plaster casting etc or been referred for operations. A number of patients have had surgical procedures on legs and hips that they would never have had the opportunity of having.
    • Olivetta has been having problems with her prosthetic legs - took her too specialist physiotherapy department at Kamuzu General Hospital. They made adjustments and repairs (no charge).
    • Evelyne conducts a workshop for parents of disabled children regarding feeding/clothing and washing.

    • We travel to ESCOM (Malawi energy provider) and ask for a quotation to connect electricity from Chimteka trading centre to the village/CBO and I also ask for a quote for the connection of electricity to Chimteka Full Primary. • Get quotes for Solar from Su-Kam and collect a new inverter for the CBCC building as the old one was damaged by lightning. • Discuss the possibility for Annual Maintenance Contract (AMC) as all the systems are out of warranty. • There is no news about possibility of Chimteka getting mains electricity.

    • The UNICEF director and (Malawi) country representative arrived with various other dignitaries from the District Assembly (including the District Commissioner). Visitors looked around Community Child Based Care Centre and what is being done to promote Early Childhood Development (ECD), then moved into the Community Hall for a general meeting. The UNICEF Director had many very kind words to say about the role of Chimteka Children Support and asked me to stand while he offered his personal thanks, to Ireland!! He also mentioned that people are talking about Chimteka in the UN headquarters in New York!!! I thought Francis’s head was going to explode….

    • Fr Julian arrives at Chimteka and it is good to see him for the first time at the project site. We jointly sign the 6 month report and VMM agreement (that should have been signed 6 months ago!!) He always has some good pieces of advice and fills in the gaps with certain other issues. After a walk around and a cup of tea Fr Julian returns to Balaka and in the next week or two he will be in London and then Rome.
    • Bicycle: Purchase a mountain bike in Lilongwe market which should mean I can cycle instead of drive shorter distances, plus I love cycling!

    Report-March 2010, John Harrison
    Monday 1st March The DC (District Commisioner) reveals to me that the refurbishment of Chioshya clinic is being considered by the Ministry of Health and that would also include a maternity facility. This is a blow as there has been much planning by CSS to be strategic in the enactment of these changes. I have asked him to give a definitive answer on whether this refurbishment has been approved or is just a proposal/pipe dream.
    Our tree planting program for this year in partnership with Sustainable Global Gardens is pending; we want goat resistant varieties and also fairly well established saplings. Purchase 1100 acacias and 100 pine @ 24,000 kw (€120). I had to count every single tree onto the truck as the seller claimed they were in blocks of 100 but the first block had only 85. A long job!! Each village will be given 50 then a few months after planting we will go and count every single one and give an award to the village with the most surviving trees.
    Considering taking a 1 week AIDS testing and counseling course at Lighthouse (google lighthouse Malawi) for my own benefit, in April so gave them a call.
    Wednesday 3rd
    Assisting Francis prepare the standard 8 mock exam for the whole education zone. A lot of concerns about confidentiality so none of the answers are leaked!! Epic task as each paper (6) of 8 pages needs to be printed 360 times!! Good job that our huge printer donated by UNICEF is more than up too the task. The funding is provided by the Education department and I make Francis include the cost of a new print cartridge in his estimates as the cost of a new one is great. When you go into various govt dept’s, charities etc you always see dead printers as they are given with the best possible intentions but then people cannot afford or do not budget for the consumables (ink).
    Thursday 4th
    While collecting the ARV nurse from Mchinji, I have an idea about training our own ARV person , so there is no need to rely on District Staff from Mchinji, or we could train an HSA and keep the drugs at the hall. Francis is trained in HIV testing and counseling (HTC) and it would be good to have a one stop shop for AIDS treatment either at the CBO or the clinic. Had an informal discussion with the DHO about this and he is more than happy to establish services at the CBO or in the villages that would complement the work of the clinic.
    Saturday 6th
    Pick up Evelyne and her friends, Gabbi (doctor) and her biologist husband Mark.
    Mark is investigating why we have such a high incidence of certain types of neurological conditions within Chimteka. The causes could be many but groundwater contamination (heavy metals etc) is a possibility. He will look for any patterns etc. He is very concerned about the standing water that gathers at the drain area of borehole pumps as they are a prime breeding area for mosquitos/malaria . We need a solution to this problem as although we are providing clean water we are potentially creating a breeding ground for mosquitos. The areas had been designed as a soak away but have become filled in with other material. Mark suggests either pumping out with our treadle pumps, chemical control (chlorine) or reducing the amount of water being wasted by kids, by putting a lock on the pump etc. It is very hard to make people realize the danger of standing water but you could actually see the mosquito larvae in the stagnant water. I think that it will be easier to address this problem when I am living in Chimteka,
    Evelyne and Gabbi are working with children with head control problems.
    Work is progressing well on the classrooms with all floors and walls complete and painting started. School term begins again on Monday but the kids can take lessons outside while work is finished. Keep emphasizing to the headmaster the importance of maintenance of his class blocks. Will it work……………
    Monday 22nd
    Completion of tree planting program; very pleased to have got 2500 trees planted before the end of the rains (2100 acacias and 400 pine). The Chimteka II School and Katakungwa CBCC have enthusiastically taken up the opportunity, great getting the kids involved in enhancing and protecting the environment.
    Pickup two Canadian girls that I met last weekend who wanted to come back to Chimteka and donate learning materials to both CBCC’ s and Chimteka II Primary. They have brought the materials all the way from Canada and there are excellent pre-school books for our library and educational playing materials. All the Primary kids are given a bag containing a pen, pencil, ruler, eraser….amazing generosity!!
    After dropping girls back at project, bring body of child that died of anemia back to Chimteka for funeral. Helps to focus my mind back on our planned establishment of village health facilities, in this child’s case I do not think an ambulance would have saved him as I took him to Mchinji hospital, but the parents/guardians had just left everything too late and by the time you get to give a blood transfusion it is 50:50 survivability.
    Tuesday 23rd
    Funeral of CBCC child takes up most of the morning, school is closed for the day as the child lived very close to the centre. Funerals in Malawi are fairly relaxed affairs with all the men sitting under trees and the ceremony is conducted by the chief and other speakers. Burial takes place in a very pleasant area of woodland and the chief says the village has lost the fruit of the future of the village and then everyone sits down for a meal.
    Chimteka II has been given one new lady teacher and she will soon be followed by another male teacher. Great news as we can know split the larger classes; although these will take place outside with kids sat on the ground.
    Wednesday 24th
    Purchase 51 blankets with money left by Canadian girls (37,000Mkw)
    Organise purchase of over 700 mosquito nets with donation of over 300,000Mkw (€1,500) from Dr Gaby; going to concentrate distribution on the under 5’s CBCC kids.
    Thursday 25th
    Outreach epilepsy and orthopedic clinic, but orthopedic clinical officer cannot make it. Epilepsy nurse has a large workload as more and more people come to Chimteka for diagnosis/treatment ; it is becoming a centre for outreach.
    The nurse reports very positive results with many people reporting reduction or complete cessation of seizures.
    Gather height information for Nico Paulin regarding his project development
    Saturday 27th
    The community Hall has been selected to be used for 13 days of training care givers for CBCC’S across Mchinji, by the District Assembly and UNICEF. This brings in revenue for the CBO of 340,000 Mkw (€1,700), which is a first of its kind, and the CBO have entrusted me with 200,000 Mkw to open a bank account for them next week. This is significant as it allows the CBO the opportunity to develop some programs without any outside assistance.
    Evelyne and Gaby conduct a workshop on cleaning, dressing and handling disabled children. Gaby has also suggested some medication for children suffering fungal infections and ringworm that seem very prevalent at the moment.
    Monday 29th
    I have found a motorcycle ambulance trailer that may offer more flexibility as we would also have a motorcycle that could be used for other purposes when the trailer is disconnected. The unit has been developed by Imperial College (UK).
    Tuesday 30th
    The disabled group have constructed the pig khola (house) and organized a feeding regime without any outside assistance. It is hoped that the pigs will breed and the piglets will be distributed within the Parents of Disabled Children Malawi (PODCAM) group.
    Friday 2nd
    Take holiday until Monday-have a trip to Blantyre Malawi’s second city and commercial hub. Report-February 2010, John Harrison
    • Had a great weekend meeting the other VMM volunteers at the Billy Riordan Trust at Cape Maclear. Also met Mags Riordan (founder), which was brilliant as we were able to discuss prospective linkages between projects (especially health) and she offered to try and assist us with some of her contacts; most notably Marys Meals. Will definitely return!!!

    • Evelyne and Dr Gabbi organised a workshop about fever, which was timely as the number of people suffering and dying from malarial fever is increasing by the day. Gabbi, often overcome by the distress of some of the disabled, makes a donation of mosquito nets.

    • Discuss with PODCAM the possibilities of starting a small scale pig Income Generating Activity (IGA). They will construct the pig house (using local materials) and organise feeding etc and we could buy 5 local pigs. The feed etc will be available locally and once the pig’s breed they will be distributed amongst group members (seen similar programs in Kenya).

    • People often die of malaria as they do not reach hospital in time. There are many reasons; lack of transport being major. There is one ambulance to take patients from Chiosya to Mchinji hospital. Motorcycle ambulances would appear to be a good idea to transport disparate villagers to Chiosya. However, the motorcycles have proven unreliable with major discomfort for serious ill/maternal patients leading to a number of reported fatalities. This may be partly blamed on poor roads. To be progressed.

    • The DHO Dr Owen and I discussed the possibility of having village based health facilities, where people could either come for treatment or referral to the clinic/hospital or work on awareness issues. This facility would require a Health Service Assistant, HSA, who would also communicate with villagers and co-ordinate transport for the sick. A room in the Community Hall may be used to place the first of these facilities.

    • Builders are making good progress with school repairs and have patched the holes in the wall of four classrooms and begun whitewashing.

    • Preparations have begun for implementation of tree planting program in partnership with Sustainable Global Gardens.

    Report-January 2010, John Harrison

    • Chimteka Full Primary school has some classroom blocks in need of renovations. It is the largest School within the 21 villages and is looking rather neglected.

    • Discussion with the District Health Officer (DHO) regarding the Chiosya Health Centre and it’s future renovations.

    • Irene and two of her colleagues conducted two strategic planning workshops in the Community Hall to evaluate what ongoing work can be done by the Community based Organization (CBO) before calling on outside assistance.

    • Chimteka has been chosen to host a visit of the Vice President of Malawi, Joyce Banda, on 4th February. She will be undertaking a full morning’s filming for UNICEF and media campaigns. It is a great honor to have her visit Chimteka and we are expecting well over 50 cars, 100’s of dignitaries and 1000’s of spectators.

    Evelyne continues workshops to fit disabled people for wheelchairs. Every week of the rainy season, the number of disabled children suffering from malnutrition increases and the numbers dying is also going up. We need to work on programs specifically for the disabled as they are most vulnerable