Archive for September, 2010

Thanks to Liam & Patrick at metronet

September 23rd, 2010

Big thanks to Liam Chivers and Patrick O’Reilly at metronet, who not only set up this site for the Tuesday Trust pro bono, but also fixed the latest link glitch in the dead of night. Great web developers who also do real work for money.

Thnx again guys. T.

Sand in my Hand

September 23rd, 2010

September 22

The sun is hotter every day. My days are going faster.
l am running from place to place; meetings in the car, picking up patients,
driving faster! More meetings in the office. Bushfires on the horizon.

Today was a difficult day. Bit like watching ten movies at once. Started off with a
meeting in the army base with a guy about a plane. He’s a game hunter in his
spare time. Soldiers all wearing shiny boots. (Maybe the only boots in the
family). Don’t get carried away thinking these guys are cool. An army for hire.
Peacekeepers. Cheaper than sending your own troops.

Next stop, the office. There is a fuel shortage, an electricity shortage, an internet
shortage and a team from the local reserve, which was attacked by local villagers.
They come in and out to sit in our office while they take turns in the fuel queue.
The clinic is dealing with patients coming all day. Some need to be taken to the
hospital. Emails are backing up. Deadlines are way past bedtime.

More importantly. As of yesterday, there is a morphine shortage. There is no
Vincristine (chemo) at the hospital. Patients are coming here for their
treatment. Lucy cannot bear to turn these people away even though they are not
registered. They are in terrible pain. Our budget for Vincristine is spent for the
year and we have three months to go…..

This means that Tony (the man l have come over to help out) has to spend
valuable time shouting at the government and anybody in-between. This
happens when we are not relieving drivers in the queue for fuel. It’s been two
days now. If we have no fuel we cannot get to the patients. And they need
morphine. They are terminally ill patients. For Gods sake.

Only reason for morphine shortage is because some person in Government got
his sums wrong.

In the middle of all of this, I had to be the driver as our drivers were at the petrol
station fighting for fuel for the ambulance. Did a couple of runs. Tony (in his 70’s)
was busy relieving me, dealing with a report due in last week for funding, writing
cheques for fuel, dealing with accountants, fighting Government cars that tried to
jump the queue. How does a Prison Officers car take precedence over an

Found a few minutes to sit in the office. Lucy , the Malawian lady who started this
Clinic in 2006 walked through the garden holding the hand of a shy, young 16
year old girl . They come into the office. Lucy explained the problem. The young
girl is HIV positive. Her family want to be rid of her. They want her to get
married. I don’t think she wants to be married. Lucy explained to her it’s not a
good idea. She took her hand and led her  away to sort her out.

Looks like the young girl might now have a place in a local school, learning a
trade. Maybe sewing.  Maybe enough for to make a difference.

Got some emails off. Nice people offering to help fundraise. Irish in Lilongwe.
Money really does make this world go round. If Tony and Lucy had more…they
could just direct their attention to their patients.

Going home drove past some dodgy characters dressed in long grasses covering
their faces and bodies, having a nice crazy dance around a fire.
Maybe it’s a full moon…. Two patients and their little baby sit in the back.
Giggling all the way home.

Home now. Having a beer. Talking to Lucy.

Won’t stay up late.

Maize storage

September 20th, 2010

This is the Tuesday Trust Project Manager, Kennie Mboma with a maize stock pile at one of the villages. Not all of it can left in the open like this, the local leader keeps some in her home too so it can’t be stolen. Desperate times, desperate measures.

Kennie and Maize Stockpile

Lucy’s Healing Garden at Ndi Moyo

September 20th, 2010

Lucy’s Garden is a beautiful and amazing place, a real oasis of hope and dignity. But so practical too. Every plant has a purpose. The old fertiliser bags are recycled as irrigation reservoirs.

Lucy's Garden at Ndi Moyo

Lucy's Garden 2

The Ambulance has no idea what’s hit it

September 20th, 2010

And, no, didn’t crash into the tree. That’s where you park for shade.Ndi Moyo's Mighty Ambulance

Lake Malawi

September 20th, 2010

This is the view from the back of Lucy & Tony’s lakeside home. Lake Malawi. Swimming not really on because of Bilharzia, an unpleasant parasite which can bring on “Snail Fever”. Say no more.

Lake Malawi from Lucy & Tony's

Sad Day In Salima

September 20th, 2010

Was asked to pick up a woman and her mother at the local Baptist Hospital. She was recovering from measles. Aged about 28.No problem. Off l went. Found the Clinic. Found the lady and her mother. She could not walk. She had barely any clothes on. She was still very ill. Her mother was very tired and tense. Backed the ambulance in and we got her in. I tried to tie some clothes on her but that was way down the list… She lay down in the back of the ambulance and l prayed for a road without holes.

Now she really lived in the back of beyond….. beyond the beyond. When we beat our way through the bush we got to a tiny village. Very poor. Yet all her neighbours out to help. They were all so quiet but they were all there for her and her family. I understand she recovered and is doing well now.

On the other hand, still lots of exciting things happening. Sunday news came of a wildlife camp been attacked by villagers with Panga knives and stones. Heard there was an Irish girl there. Met her today. She is a very brave girl. I would have been crying and wailing but she’s from the north side…made of strong stuff. Had to restrain her from going back to camp for a couple of days!!

Getting hot and dusty. Very beautiful. I love around 4 o clock. Sky is still blue. A sense of going home.

Did l tell you about the diesel shortage….next time.


Bad day for cyclists in Malawi

September 14th, 2010

Bad day yesterday. Had to drive the ambulance with some sick and sore patients through the bush on bumpy sandy roads. Felt so bad going through the pot holes but the advice is to speed up on approach to bumpy bits and we all held on. Tight.People on bikes are EVERYWHERE. They took one look over their shoulders and dived into the ditch. Chickens who thought they would never fly..soared like swallows. And bloody goats….they can move when they have to.

The patients were great. Not one complaint. I think?

The other issue yesterday was charging oxen. They are not  well behaved and have a tendendacy to come right at you with lunatic drivers pressing them ahead even FASTER.

This morning the dispensing nurse (who seemed fine yesterday) has malaria today. There is nobody here to take her place.They tell me she will be in tomorrow. Maybe it’s just a bad day.. but it just seems that everybody is sick or belongs to someone who is sick.

Was talking to a british doctor last night who was posted here in the 1970’s. She thinks it is all much WORSE than it was then. AIDS.

On the upside..Malawi produces a lovely gin. Thank God.

Looking for the moon in Malawi

September 10th, 2010

Spent last night strolling in the garden in the dark looking for the crescent of the moon. Crescent = a day off today. No crescent = work today. ( The new moon marks the end of Ramadan and the start of holidays) Thank god…. a tiny crescent appeared.

So this morning a long breakfast with Lucy. Always the talk around the table is focused on patients, morphine, ambulances,matress’s and some deeply distressing stories of the patients currently been looked after. Lucy thinks she has to fight so hard because Pallative Care is simply not ” sexy “. I think she is right.Same problem at home???

Walking along the lakeshore ( with a fierce dog at my side ) . Feel blessed to have the time.

Looking on the upside of life here for me…all the kids think i am Madonna!! ( Good??!)

On the downside, Tony is so happy with my driving skills on the dirt roads that this weekend he is going to teach me how to drive long distance on sand. Oh god…..

Hope I live to tell the tell. Or more importantly that I don’t kill Tony….

Living in Malawi

September 9th, 2010

Day one. Arrived with no luggage …again. Had to wear a sheet ..toga style..for dinner. At least i was clean..but still embarrassed! Next morning Tony asked me to drive the jeep through the dirt roads with pot holes, chickens,goats and bikes. I did not kill anybody. This morning had to drive the ambulance to work. Again, feel very proud that i did not kill anybody either in or out of the ambulance. Working in the clinic. My new job is Operations Director Ndi Moyo. Hmmmm.