Last summer we spent a week doing the final renovations on a medical clinic in Malawi. My initial inspection of the buildings was eye opening. This was my first visit to a clinic. This particular clinic serves an area of about 30,000 people. On average, they see about 700 cases of malaria each month from November to February. There are 1-2 babies born each day. They test for HIV, treat illnesses and wounds, and prescribe medications.
When I arrived it was filled with people waiting to be seen by a doctor. Men, women and children sat in lines along the walls, steps and grass outside. Some of these people wait 8 hours to see the doctor. Women walk for miles to the clinic and “wait for labor to begin”, sometimes spending a couple of days staying in a one room building, called a guest house, with other women. These guest houses are an empty room….no beds, tables, or chairs. The women generally bring a family member, usually their mom, with them on the journey to help take care of her for the days she will be there.
The “lobby” is open to the outside and an occasional goat would walk through when the crowds would decrease. The walls were very worn and in need of repair. Windows were broken and didn’t have any screens. The clinic had no running water or electricity. When women would be admitted in labor, they would bring water in buckets from the outside water well. The delivery bed was a metal bed, no mattress or bedding. The recovery room was very similar, but had 8 metal beds in the same condition. My heart sank. How is it fair that my conditions are so much easier.
I returned that summer with a team, a medical doctor and my daughter. The transformation on that building reminds me of my personal transformation following each trip.
Sometimes I feel so worn, broken and weathered from time. Each Malawi experience lifts my spirit, heals my wounds and encourages me to keep moving.