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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Saying good-bye

It's Thursday afternoon in Malawi. Tomorrow I start the long journey home. It's hot and muggy, worse than any other day I've been here  so far (and remember, it's winter here). I am filled with mixed emotions.

I am glad to be heading home to Aimee and Rowan. I miss them. I am sad about leaving because it feels like my work here isn't done. I'm ready to sleep in my own bed and eat more normal food. I'm impatient about making progress towards my final goal as it relates to Chawezi: healing, new artificial legs, and the means to provide for herself.


Had a great third visit with her yesterday, plus had the added bonus of speaking with another doctor, this one actually directly in charge of treating her. Discovered that he wants/needs to do a skin graft, but can't because of a lack of supplies. And here's the kicker: the hospital has been out of these things for TWO YEARS. This hospital is government-run, and has very limited resources (remember how they have to provide their own food and wash their own clothes?), unlike a nearby private hospital. THEY have all the supplies needed, but won't share with the public hospital, not even if patients are willing to purchase the needed supplies from them. There's probably a very good reason for this, but in my biased state right now, I'm not seeing what it is.

So after the visit, we made the long drive back to Lilongwe, arriving here about 6 or 7 pm. (Side note, my body clock has never adjusted, and I've been falling asleep at about 4 or 5 every day, and waking up at about 2 or 3 in the morning. I've only eaten dinner once since I arrived. Of course, I fell asleep within minutes of arriving at the hotel last night. Let's see if I make it to dinner tonight.) Today was spent in a meeting with World Vision Malawi staff, and then a little sightseeing. I also bought an African drum with animals carved in the side for Rowan. She likes the one I bought in Uganda  a few years ago, so I got her one of her very own.

Back to Chawezi... So, in summary, here's the plan as we know it right now:
  1. Try to get all needed supplies for a skin graft, which will help heal the pressure sores on her backside.
  2. Obtain new, stronger and lighter artificial legs.
  3. Upon her return to Manyamula (her home village), provide some type of adult literacy course so that she'll be able to use the tailoring skills she obtained, and will actually be able to provide her own income.
The first two items are sure to cost money, but I don't know how much yet. The third one may get provided through government services, but if those aren't available, we may have to hire a tutor.

Before I wrap this up for today, I need to mention a few other people. First, Chawezi has an elderly aunt staying with her, and she's been with Chweazi now for months. The hospital has very little room, so any 'guardians' or relatives staying with patients have to sleep on the floor. So basically, this woman has given up her life to sleep on an overcrowded concrete floor since some time last year, and with no known end in sight. Yeah, and sometimes I think my life is hard.

I also need to mention Alfred and Raymond, my drivers/interpreters from World Vision Malawi. They've both been GREAT (like Tony the Tiger would say... can you tell my sleep's all messed up?). Very helpful, very gracious, and very supportive. Alfred in particular has put in a lot of work and how pledged to continue to do so.

Well, that's it from Africa. By the time I post again, I should be home. But although my travels will be finished, helping Chawezi is really just getting started.

Chawezi's aunt

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