Wednesday, 21 January 2015


Well the start of 2015 has been nothing but eventful.  I returned back to Malawi at the beginning of January after spending time back in Brisbane for Christmas and family events. 

I have definitely hit the ground running and it looks to be an exciting year ahead.  My experience in Malawi, if nothing else, will teach me patience.  Nothing is done at  a fast pace except for crazy driving which in tuk tuks in wet weather over pot holes can get the heart racing. Combine that with the largest snail/slug suction cupped to your foot and you are in for an entertaining trip!

The earthquake hoax has to be one of the funnier events that have occurred in the last few weeks.  I was staying at friend’s house and we received not one but two phone calls warning us to prepare for the earthquake that is about to hit.  What does one do in this event?  Do you actually get earthquake warnings i.e. can they predict it?  We decided that sleeping in one room with things off the walls that couldn’t fall on us was our best option.  When I asked if any more news had been provided on the quake I was told yes between 10 and 11.  WHAT?? On the richter scale?!  No Beth it will occur between 10 and 11pm.  Needless to say these types of predications are impossible and no tremors were felt.  Another entertaining Malawi gossip story to add to the collection!

I have had some entertaining conversations the last few weeks with cultural differences and misunderstandings being the main culprit. One particular conversation that springs to mind is the need for the clinic to order soft and hard leather in order to make certain devices.  I asked my assistant manager to provide me with the dimensions of the sheets of leather we have used in the past to determine our order.  His reply was “Beth how can I possibly tell you that information I don’t know the size of the animals!!  I don’t know how fat or skinny they are!!”  So true my friend – what was I thinking?!

In speaking about animals a friend and I went to inspect a building office block that his family is having built.  We were met however by a tribe of goats who was led by their infamous male goat.  Hiding from him was entertaining and between the 2 of us we weren’t quite sure who was going to defend who.  A large stick was found to assist in our plight from Mr Goat should we have needed.

I am also getting to know the various tools of many trades. I can now for instance buy certain tools and equipment to weld bars for hand rails, purchase POP powder for plastering and now understand an engineer square (which by the way is not a square).

I have to say though that my highlight is still seeing the smiles of the clients that come through the door and the achievements they make (big and small) with their new devices.  A gorgeous 2 year old was recently fitted for a below calcaneous prosthetic.  In just 1 month her gait, hip alignment etc has improved immensely and I can’t wait to see her at her review in 2 months time. 

Yesterday a gorgeous 9 year old boy with cerebral palsy came in to the clinic.  He had various devices but had grown too big and staff decided they wanted to send him the surgeon for a calf release.  On further investigation and cuing of his gait he could with concentration obtain heel strike.  Deeper discussion with the staff they admitted that the child had KAFOs (knee ankle foot orthoses) and had progressed to AFOs (ankle foot orthoses) and there had been a significant improvement.  Suggesting we hold off on the surgery and see with better fitting AFOs and more structured gait exercises over the next few months before resorting to surgery maybe more beneficial.  We will see the outcome!

From a 500 miles perspective please have a look at our Big Dinner campaign .  It will be aired at 7pm on the 7th of March UK time. Any contribution you can make will assist us in helping the disabled of Malawi walk more than 500 miles.

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