Community, Healthcare, Malawi

Raising funds across the globe

A huge thank you to all our friends and supporters that have helped us to send COVID-19 emergency relief funds to Malawi of over £1,800 since our activities were suspended in March.

Donations are being used to purchase essential sanitation items during the pandemic such as soaps and face masks, in order to distribute swiftly and free-of-charge to the elderly and vulnerable at this difficult time. The local clinics have also suffered a sudden shortage of essential, basic medicines due to the prioritisation of Coronavirus supplies, so a range of drugs and equipment is being sent to assist at Ruarwe and Khondowe Clinics. In addition, all NYM programmes and activities have been suspended since March, including the maize mill microbusiness which was eventually closed in mid-April, so the staff from the community centre and its associated businesses are now able to access emergency relief funds to help feed their families.

A special thanks to our good friends in the Netherlands Marlieke Moors and Derek van Bakel (pictured below on Lake Malawi) – with the help of friends and family they managed to raise a whopping €800 for their Kingsday (Konigsdag) fundraiser in just a few days! A big thank you also to all our supporters that have managed to donate at this economically challenging time, and to the family and friends of the Nissims and the Manders for their continued generous contributions. YEWO!

Marlieke, Derek and baby Ela on the Ilala ferry in Nov 2019

Community, Healthcare, Malawi

Maize mill activity during the COVID-19 pandemic

While Nyumba ya Masambiro and Phunzira have had to put the majority of their activities on a complete hold during the global Coronavirus pandemic, we have made the decision, in conjunction with NYM, to keep the Maize Mill open with a new set of rules to implement strict social distancing and hygiene practices to protect both the customers and staff. Residents of Ruarwe, given its remote location, do not have access to any shops or market places for food. They grow their own, occasionally barter and trade, and rely heavily on government-subsidised maize for their daily nutrition. The Maize Mill is therefore essential for food security.

We are delighted that, since the opening of the Maize Mill, a steady flow of customers continues to come on a daily basis to mill their maize. To make sure that everyone remains as safe as possible, customers currently queue outside the milling house with minimum 1 meter distancing from person to person. As they approach the milling building they wash their hands with the soap and water provided for them. The miller and cashier each have a personal handwashing station within the milling house and they wash their hands between each customer interaction.

We are delighted that NYM is able to maintain the Maize Milling service safely at this time, and we will continue to monitor the situation in Malawi and will make changes where necessary.

Education, Healthcare, Malawi, Testimonial, Volunteers

Volunteer testimonial – Kate Probert

Nyumba ya Masambiro and Ruarwe Clinic have just hosted volunteer Kate Probert for 5 weeks. A qualified nurse from New Zealand, with particular experience in youth healthcare, Kate got involved with many of the activities in Ruarwe including working at the clinic, assisting the clinic staff to set up the Youth Friendly Health Services program, repainting the children’s corner of the NYM library and much more.
As Kate said of her time in Malawi:

“Volunteer and live in a beautiful jungle, right on the lake with not onlythe staff but the whole community that open their arms and welcome you in. It’s a no brainer.”

Kate, you really got stuck in in your time in Ruarwe and have made a real and lasting impact on the community here. Thank you so much for sharing your time, expertise and energy with us and we very much look forward to you coming and joining us again some time in the future. Tawonga Chomene!

Community, Donations, Healthcare, Malawi

Donation of a portable nebuliser to Ruarwe Clinic

In January, Ruarwe Clinic was delighted to receive the wonderful donation of a portable nebulisation unit. Nebulisers can administer saline, adrenaline, salbutamol and more to alleviate symptoms of respiratory conditions including asthma, chest infections and more. Respiratory conditions represent a large portion of conditions seen in Ruarwe and the surrounding areas due to a number of factors, a key one being the need to cook over open fires year round resulting in regular exposure to smoke inhalation.

Out-going Zulunkhuni River Lodge managers Anneke and Hartmut, who have contributed so much to this community in their time here, donated the nebuliser unit via Phunzira. We would like to extend a huge thank you to Anneke and Hartmut for this extremely generous donation, which is being used on a regular basis and is making a huge difference to the community in how staff at the centre can now treat respiratory emergencies. Yewo Chomene!

Community, Donations, Fundraising, Healthcare, Malawi

Donation of Maternity Items to Ruarwe Clinic

At the start of this year, Ruarwe Clinic received a wonderful donation of maternity medical items. Donated by Anneke and Hartmut Jagau and Phunzira, the clinic received Maternity Pads, Sterile Cord Clamps, plastic Fetoscopes and Vaginal Speculums as well as Urinalysis Sticks.

Given the remote location of Ruarwe, pregnant mothers are encouraged to go to either the larger clinic in Usisya, Nkhata Bay District Hospital or Mzuzu Central Hospital to deliver. This journey and the stay away from the village, and their families as they are waiting to deliver, can be prohibitively expensive for many expectant mothers. As a result of which, many mothers remain in Ruarwe to deliver. The District Health Team is building a new and improved clinic building in Ruarwe, which will have the space, drugs and equipment to facilitate safer deliveries in the village. The wonderful Community Midwife Technician Helen Msisya from the Ruarwe Zone has been trained and assigned to Ruarwe Health Centre for this purpose. While community members await the completion and opening of this new facility, the staff at the clinic requested these items to facilitate safer deliveries already happening in the village. A huge thank you to the Jagau family and Phunzira donors for making this delivery of essential equipment possible!

Donations, Fundraising, Healthcare, Malawi

Donation of Medical Supplies to Ruarwe and Khondowe Clinics

This month has seen the donation of some vitally important drugs and equipment to the Clinic in Ruarwe, and shared with Khondowe. Following a number of months of national drug shortages, Ruarwe Clinic was running critically low of, among other things, Paracetamol and certain antibiotics. The situation had become so acute that the Medical Assistant Paul Kabuzi was having to make impossible decisions in giving paracetamol only to children under a year of age, despite the very high risk of febrile convulsions (seizures) in children with high temperatures up to the age of 5 years.

Repeat visitors to the lodge from Zomba heard of this plight and instigated a fundraiser in their home country, Holland. With the funds raised, they were able to buy a plentiful supply of Paracetamol, Clindamycin, Ciprofloxacin and Quinine tablets (which are essential in the treatment of malaria in the first trimester of pregnancy). The drugs were purchased in Zomba and shipped up to Ruarwe where they were very gratefully received.

In addition to these drugs, the clinic also received a supply of gauze, dressings and bandages to bulk up those already held by the clinic. Treatment of wounds is the fourth most common reason for patients’ attendance at the clinic so these supplies will soon be used for the treatment of these. We would like to extend a huge thank you to all those who donated and to Annelies and Jeroen of Zomba who arranged the fundraising, purchase and donation of the drugs and Hartmut and Anneke of Ruarwe who arranged for the donation of the wound care supplies – both of these will really make a huge difference to the community of Ruarwe and all those attending the clinic for treatment.

Healthcare, Malawi, Testimonial, Volunteers

Volunteer Testimonial – Ana Estevao

Ruarwe Health Centre was very lucky to host volunteer Ana Estevao for 6 weeks in September and October. Ana is a qualified nurse from Portugal who has been recently working in the NHS in the UK. Ana said of her time in Ruarwe;

“halfway through this adventure, it is amazing to see how with so little resources, staff and equipment, everyone that goes there gets the best treatment possible. Also the effort to make a better and healthier community each day is remarkable. Malawi is one of the countries most affected by malaria, so most of our patients are tested and treated for that but also we get a few emergencies. I’ve been able to see a few deep injuries and treat them, as also I’m improving my paediatric skills by looking after sick babies and providing them treatment.

As for myself, I’m more than grateful for being here and to be part of this community, even for so little time.”

Both staff, community members and volunteers really benefit from the volunteers’ time in Ruarwe – for moral support in the clinic, for information sharing and learning, and because volunteers are always really made to feel so welcome by the community.

Medicine and nursing in Ruarwe is very different from in big teaching hospitals in the West and so we find that to volunteers coming with a sense of openness and adventure really do get so much out of being here. Ana, thank you so much for your wonderful contribution of time and expertise to the community! Yewo Chomene!

Donations, Healthcare, Malawi, Volunteers

Donation of supplies for the Ruarwe Health Centre

The Ruarwe health centre has received a wonderful donation of much needed medical supplies. Volunteers Kartik, Leo and Aurelien have brought with them a box of fifty pregnancy tests and a new battery operated sphygmomanometer (blood pressure meter). These will help with vital diagnostics and blood pressure management for the communities served by the clinic.

The realities of rural healthcare are that often even the most basic supplies are lacking and a government strapped for cash is not able to supply such items to rural health facilities. While it is important that Phunzira does not take over the role of the government in providing supplies for the clinic, it is a delight when one-off donations such as this can make a real difference on the ground in diagnostics and treatment. With such a large part of the population visiting the clinic being women of child-bearing age pregnancy tests are vital in quickly establishing whether a patient is expectant and therefore being able to provide antenatal care. We are also seeing a rapid increase in hypertension within the community, and so the sphygmomanometer will allow for easier management of this condition at hypertension assessments.

Thank you so much for the kind donation!

Medical Supplies Ruarwe

Community, Healthcare, Malawi, Volunteers

Student nurse joins Ruarwe Clinic team

Student nurse Emily has been with the team at Ruarwe Health Centre for 4 weeks undertaking her elective placement. Learning all about healthcare challenges in such rural communities, the different medical conditions encountered in Malawi and treatment with very limited drugs and resources.

Nursing electives are a great opportunity for students to really experience a completely different working environment and health system from the western systems they are training in. The staff at Ruarwe Clinic also absolutely revel in the opportunity to both share their knowledge and learn in return. This exchange of knowledge is absolutely key to any elective placement.

Student nurse Emily

Emily was a wonderful student, who really got stuck into Malawian life. it was a pleasure having you with us Emily, we really look forward to hosting you again soon!

Community, Donations, Healthcare, Malawi

Ambulance boat back on the water

The beautiful Ruarwe ambulance boat is happily living in the village again after its full maintenance and repainting made possible by our wonderful donors. We would like to extend a huge ‘thank you!’ on behalf of the community to Richard Gray for his very generous donation and repeat volunteer Leah Desmond for her very successful fundraising. These funds allowed a complete overhaul maintenance of the Ruarwe Ambulance Boat, completed by the boat builder Zero in Usisya. The maintenance was carried out between September and December 2017, and the repainting completed at the end of February 2018.
Since its maintenance it has carried critically ill patients to Usisya for life-saving treatment and it has been deployed in a large scale public health program to treat an outbreak of scabies in our catchment area lakeshore villages.

A huge thank you to the donors that have made this maintenance possible and kept this life-saving transport afloat.