20 Jan Latest newsletter from Stephen Drew
To all supporters
First of all , my very very sincere thanks to all for your continued support during this year. I really appreciate it – there are so many other worthy causes, so many other calls upon your cash – and so your loyalty to Medic Malawi is wonderful. With your help, and the advice of our partners in Malawi, our work has continued to grow for the benefit of countless people. Thank you. But it has been a significant couple of months, especially with the retirement of Mac and Dot Forsyth.
Mac and Dot
Medic Malawi would not exist without Mac and Dot Forsyth. They were not only the co-founders, but built up the charity and ran it together for many years. Even when the administration passed to me, they continued on the Board of Trustees, Mac as Chairman.
They personally set the special features of the Medic Malawi:
- That it must be a partnership with the local community. The hospital was built with the encouragement of Rev Frank Dzentenge – The Third Man – (also ‘without whom’ nothing much would have happened). Along with Rev Frank, and subsequently others such as Njiwa Snowdean, Aubrey Wande and Michael Masudi, the partnership developed, and the work expanded. Every step was taken together; every initiative discussed together; every priority examined together – a process I have always sought to follow since taking over day to day matters.
- That every penny raised must go to Malawi. Raising money inevitably has some costs – postage, petrol etc, but Mac and Dot were determined to absorb these costs so that donations went to those who needed them. Zero running costs is not easy, but, this example has also been followed in recent years – and I have been helped in that aim by those who donate their own time, expertise, and materials, such as pamphlets and banners.
- That people should see it for themselves. Mac and Dot took people to Malawi, or in some cases (mine!) took them back to Malawi.
In doing all this, they changed many lives. They certainly changed mine.
Thank you Mac and Dot.
The hospital continues to be at full stretch, with the ambition now of employing a Doctor so that even more good can be done. AMAO continues to be the happiest orphanage you could find, and the Feeding Centre saves lives. But there have been one or two particular additions…
At last we have been able to buy a slit lamp for the Shrewsbury School Eye Clinic. The monthly surgeries continue and, with the generosity of a very recent specific Christmas donation, we are expanding further afield. We will send vehicles into a region not yet touched by our work, and cure the blind in two sets of mobile three day eye camps there.
Helping people to help themselves
This initiative has been launched with the help of three specific UK donors, since it is outside the scope of our normal work. Microloans are small loans to individuals, often woman in fact, to set up a small business to help to support themselves and their family. With the enthusiastic and energetic support of our fine hospital administrator, Chris Zambira, two groups of 20 recipients have been formed, each receiving just a few pounds to get started. They have a training course and the business is scrutinised by a small committee at the outset, who can also give advice. In some ways there is little security for the loans – that is a risk we take – but in practice these schemes have been shown to have exceptionally low rates of default – and an exceptionally good record of setting recipients up for the future. I have wanted to get these going for ages, and there has been nothing like it in Mtunthama, so it is great that they are now happening.
I have reported before on the marvellous scheme in Dwangwa, using river water and some old pumps for irrigation. This has been another initiative supported by Chris Zambira, and has produced excellent results, enabling the local population to feed themselves, sell surplus, and plant again for the actual rainy season which is now coming.
Further Education is very expensive in Malawi, and not necessarily the only way to make progress. So I was delighted to launch the first three apprenticeships at Kamuzu Academy for three school leavers of AMAO Michael, Sarah and Beyani. Kamuzu Academy has all the expertise needed to train the youngsters – my thanks to Fyson Kanjira and Hawkins Gondwe for their support. Michael is training in Hospitality and Management; Sarah in Catering and Beyani in Electrical work.
A local donor gave seven hectares of unused land to the Church for the use of AMOA, and with the support of Wolverhampton Rotary we have been able to bring this into cultivation. We managed to hire a tractor ( a rare sight in Malawi at any time I might say!) to work the fields.
The aim is to grow enough maize for AMAO in year one; if possible we will reinvest and then in year two have a surplus for sale, all revenues of course to the orphanage. With eggs sales producing 10% of income, we are moving towards that great goal – self sufficiency at least for one part of the operation.
Thank you to everyone who has given, but may I mention two examples…
I launched the ‘Twenty Things for MM’ campaign earlier this year, and whilst I can’t pretend it exactly went viral, special thanks to Jane Sullivan and Andy Butcher for undertaking twenty sponsored bike rides of at least twenty-five miles each, for MM.
A few years ago Dom Stanford came with me to Malawi; this year, as he reached 21 years old, he held a joint party with a friend and asked for gifts to go not to themselves, but to be shared by Syrian Refugees and Medic Malawi. Thank you Dom!
These two just examples of the touching generosity which exists, and which has been shown this year.
Thank you to all who have given, and my best wishes…