In 2013 when I visited the sisters here the road was in a sorry state. The car slipped and slid on the mud. Now a main road passes right by the Parish compound which made our arrival on 27th May much easier. The area is full of steep hills and deep valleys and moving from place to place is a challenge on the dirt roads. In June we distributed 4 Bicycle ambulances to 3 of the local villages and to Konzalendo itself.
They were funded by a donation from the General Leadership Team. The bicycles have a separate stretcher and mattress to carry the sick person from their house up to the road to be placed on the back of the bike – see the photos below.
On our visit to Mphatso Village with the ambulance, the chief asked help for a district with 300 people who have no access to clean water. The following Sunday we visited the area to see the situation and hear from the people. The road to their part of the village was washed away in a storm some years ago so we had to park the car at the local Primary School and walk the last mile. We found that people are walking down to the valley floor to draw water from a small stream. We met women washing clothes, pots and pans and drawing water at the same point. Happily, the Water Department, Thyolo District officer told us that, although the possibilities are limited and the system will not be able to provide taps, at least the people could have access to clean water through the digging of a well and installation of a pump. The people have begun to dig the well. We are hopeful that, with the help of Mr. Mselera from Thyolo overseeing the installation, a system will be up and running before too long. Already we have a request from another area in a similar situation for assistance in installing a clean water system.
At our local Primary School, I was shocked to see that children are in classrooms without desks and they spend their days sitting on the floor, not good for learning or for their health I suspect. UNICEF Malawi, say that approximately 50% of school children in Malawi have no desk or chair. Of the 1500 pupils in the school only those in Grade 8 (about 90) have desks. Thanks to the donations we received we can fund the restoration of 50 desks which had fallen into disrepair at a cost of ca. €12 each. To buy a new desk costs between €50 and €70 so it will be a challenge to raise funds for enough desks for every student. We have some money to get 20 new desks. Hopefully over time we can find ways of getting assistance to see that every child has a desk. The school has applied for the last 7 years to the Department of Education for desks but have so far not received any funding.
The people are not cast down by their difficulties. Everywhere we go we meet smiling faces and are given a big welcome.
Mairéad Ní Chuirc