The Milk Programme is still serving the local and Bwanali areas, with about 50 acutely vulnerable babies on the books. But it was great to see that the babies are so much healthier now than when we visited a few months ago - the milk really is changing lives.
Esnart, 9 weeks old, orphaned at birth, surviving on our goats’ milk, and sporting smart new clothes provided by OHP.
But she’s part of a worrying trend, - she’s one of 4 babies whose mothers have died in childbirth during the past few months, in just one village.
We repaired 3 boreholes during this trip restoring clean, safe water to about 2000 people. This is vital for health—potentially polluted wells and water-ways are the alternative—but it also relieves frustration and congestion at adjacent pumps, enabling women more time for their families and fieldwork to grow their food.
We replaced several houses. Falace’s family lost everything when a fire destroyed their home. Falace - hungry and heavily pregnant - her husband and two children, were living in the ruins, and the rains were due….
Determined to penetrate the needy communities more effectively to identify and help the frailest, we’ve added a Field Worker to our OHP staff. Her background is nutrition, healthcare—particularly of babies, the elderly, and AIDS–affected— and homecraft.
We’ve tasked her to begin interviewing each mother/guardian of babies receiving our milk to assess their current condition and level of vulnerability. All info will go back to the Project Committee and together they’ll decide which babies are now healthy or old enough to move on from the programme allowing new babies to enter.
Waiting for milk at Bwanali milk drop ......
Twice a day the goats are milked, the milk is sterilised and stored in the fridge or freezer awaiting distribution to the frailest. Electricity supply is so erratic that we’re urgently needing to install solar power to retain this life-giving milk in good condition - it’s a constant battle against souring.
Partnering with Cadecom and local education, we are making improvements to the community (tapped) water system. This work is expected to restore local water, free of charge to about 10,000 people, hopefully eradicating corruption along with the illegal pipes that have been run for personal gain.
This is Bongwe village’s borehole, one of the three we repaired. It had been broken for 2 years, and was left in that state because the local residents were unable to afford the parts.
They then had the option of using a dubiously-safe well nearby, or to walk for an hour up the mountain to collect water from the Phala River.
As you can see - all are delighted to have safe water flowing freely back in the local community.
They originally asked for
help with a new roof, but
on assessment it was decided that the walls were damaged and too weak so, with the help of their neighbours and church, we built them a secure new house—with windows!
Above: Falace & children - their house destroyed by fire, and on the right, the roof being fitted on their new home
When assessing home situations we
always check food supplies as a guide
to vulnerability, and were surprised to find a stuffed sack—until we saw it was filled with cassava peelings. Cassava is a tuber, like a potato, and Afale’s food larder consisted of only “potato” peelings! She’d dry these, pound them into a rough flour then make a gruel. Someone had given her a little cassava 3 days ago, which she ate with sweet potato leaves as the protein/veg component—and she hadn’t eaten since.
Of course we gave her a bit of immediate help, built her a new house and ensured she’s on our Feeding Programme due to open at Christmas when hunger is most acute,
Afale, probably in her 80’s but doesn’t know her age, came to see us asking for help rebuilding her house. Her home—a tiny raw-brick hut—was crumbling and the roof collapsing. She’s frail, without any form of income, and very hungry.
Afale - safe, secure and dry in her new home
We rebuilt a number of roofs and supplied plastic sheeting to many others for roof repairs
Mr P is also in his 80’s, and when we visited,
he was scarcely able to breathe. We couldn't get the car near, so a neighbour piggy-backed him to it, and we took him to the Heath Centre. He was admitted but was well enough to return after a few days’ stabilisation. We funded his treatment and supplied emergency food.
He’d asked us to roof his house, but the structure was too weak, so suggested we rebuild the collapsed part of one wall and cover all in plastic paper to keep him and his wife safe till after the rains.
They too will benefit from our Food Programme.
We met Godfrey—elderly, frail, the sole provider for 3 orphans, and asking for a new grass roof. He was hungry. Two days earlier someone had given him a little maize bran (what we feed our goats on) and he’d eked that out till the next day, but had eaten nothing for 24 hours.
We supplied food, ensured he was on our emergency Food Programme and rebuilt the roof of his remote home.
The whole locality was blessed by Grant (Sth Africa) and Dickson (Malawi) coming onto site to train staff and local farmers in “Farming God’s Way” earlier in the year.
Following that, our agri-team went out and helped
groups of volunteers to prepare portions of community fields. Making compost was the criteria and the groups that had produced some were issued with good quality OPV maize and soya seed.
Each garden will be monitored, with help and further training offered. We’re delighted that the FGW team has pledged their support and will train locally with us for the next 5 yrs.
As usual, all of the crops produced in the community fields will be shared amongst the most vulnerable in each village.
This is Page 2 of Winter report 2012
Godfrey - and his collapsing roof