A day in Outreach in Malawi

A day in Outreach in Malawi

We visit our patients twice every week. It is always an exciting moment for the home-based care team to go and deliver their services to those in most need who are unable to reach the health centre. In every visit we often plan to visit five or six clients in a day. Below is a glimpse of what a day is like for us.

We start off our journey following bad roads, full of potholes, to one of the villages. We started by visiting our client who is suffering from cancer of the esophagus. She was lying on her bed, helplessly waiting for her granddaughter, Sarah, who is 12 years old and in primary school, close to our clinic.

Mrs. Chimwemwe totally depends on the help of her little grandchild, Sarah. Sarah is young, but intelligent and hardworking. She wakes up daily at 4:30 am to clean and arrange their house, prepare some food for her grandmother and then her day depends on the school timetable. Sometimes, if she is going for morning classes, she leaves for school very early for an 8am start, then when she returns home, she prepares lunch for her grandmother. After seeing her grandmother has eaten, she moves around selling groundnut powder to get some money to buy food for herself and her grandmother. On this day we met Sarah running back home from doing ” Ganyu”, short time paid labour and then leaving home again in time for her classes which were starting 15 minutes later. Sarah walks from house to house, asking people if there is anything she can do so that they pay her some money to care for her grandmother. This is her routine. She is always paid 800 Malawi kwacha after the heavy work she does, with the current economic situation, this money (about €0.50), cannot even afford one good meal for them.

It is always so much joy for Mrs. Chimwemwe to see us enter her room. Slowly as we are seated and chatting, her sad face starts relaxing and smiling by the time we depart. Whenever we are taking our leave, she says, “bye but we meet next week”. She keeps longing for the time we return to her house and the week we don’t go she feels so disappointed, and she sends her granddaughter to the clinic to send us her greetings. These greetings act as a bell to remind us to visit her! Occasionally, her health condition is so bad, and she is unable to share food with her little granddaughter. In the beginning Sarah’s grandmother’s health really affected Sarah’s academic journey. Sarah often slipped out of the classroom whenever she thought of her grandmother but now, she is picking up. She only returns home when her classes have ended.

Secondly, we visited “agogo” which is ‘grandmother’. But, you know, I think I will leave this story for another day. There is so much to tell about a day of outreach. We will continue this story next time….