01 Nov Newsletter, November 2011
Dear friends and supporters of Medic Malawi
10th anniversary celebrations
It was a pleasure, a privilege and a challenge to be at the 10th anniversary celebrations of St Andrew’s Hospital in August.
A pleasure of course – the joyous singing , dancing and acting, with songs about St Andrew’s specially written for the occasion. There is a clip on the new website which starts with a great song about what would generally be called the ‘wrap around’ care of the hospital – “it can help you with anything” they sing ! So many people took the trouble to come , despite increasingly severe fuel shortages – especially members of the Mother’s Union in hundreds, unmistakable on the film in their white and blue dress. It was great to share the joy, to meet so many people and have the chance to speak to everyone about Medic Malawi, including the work ahead.
It was a privilege to represent Medic Malawi, and all those who have donated. It is these donations and gifts which have made it all possible. I know that many of you reading this have given from the start of the project, as members of the wonderful 100 Club of givers, the core income of the charity. Hank you. Any new readers who could l give regularly please click on the 100 Club on the website. Others have held events, run or rowed marathons – all sorts of things, Equal thanks to all, and you were all thanked I assure you, in many a long Malawian speech on August 1st!
And a challenge because as you know this is my first newsletter and my first term – oops- administering Medic M. A little giveaway there – because I stood down early from being a Headmaster for 18 years to do this, and it already feels a far greater responsibility! But it is going to be great – lots to do, plenty of generous helpers and above all a wonderful project so well established by Dot and Mac Forsyth.
Dot and Mac
It is impossible to overstate the contribution Dot and Mac have made to Medic Malawi. Sitting quietly at their kitchen table ten years ago, they thought that funding a small hospital near where they used to live would be a pleasant way to spend a few minutes every now and then in their retirement. Little did they know!
As the work and good has grown so of course has their commitment, always entirely voluntary and without even expenses. They have raised funds, organised trips, made decisions, sorted out crises, and steadily built up the hospital, orphanage and ancilliary projects
Happily they will continue to be huge supporters in the future and it could not have been more fitting that the Operating Theatre , built with funds raised through their efforts and energy, was named the Forsyth Thetare at the Anniversary.
My thanks also to Vicky Hammerstein, who planned and ran the website for years. Simply for reasons of local convenience that task will now be done by Roy Williams, a friend in Shropshire, but Vicky has done a great job for Medic Malawi. Incidently, Roy is also keen that I shall tweet and blog…
A new Trustee is to be Mr Hawkins Gondwe, our first Malawian and locally based Trustee. He is Deputy Head of nearby Kamuzu Academy and has a strong interest not least because members of his own family are treated at the hospital from time to time.
Rev Frank and Rev Petro
Our community is centred around the Church. That was the first building in the area, and indeed it was the clergyman, Rev Frank Dzentenge who urged Dot and Mac Forsyth to ‘think big’ and build a brand new hospital next to the church.
In August ,after 15 years, Rev Frank and his wife Eunice moved to a new church appointment in the capital, Lilongwe. He has made an immense contribution and it was good to be there to thank them on behalf of Medic Malawi. In Frank’s place has come Rev Petro Mzokomera, and it was lovely to have the chance to meet him too. There will be a profile of Rev Petro on the new website. Already we have been in regular contact – he is excellent with emails – and that has enabled me to keep in touch with what is developing in Mtunthama.
Malawi: Fuel shortages
Malawi is beginning to attract a bad press and the President has come in for criticism. The main thing to say is that this does not affect our work in any way – all our money goes directly to the hospital. We keep in very close touch with the administrator, Aubrey Wande.
But the country did experience riots in July against the government, a very rare occurance in Malawi. There have been desperate fuel shortages for months, partly because tobacco, the main export crop, sold for half the budgeted price this year, causing a catastrophic lack of foreign exchange.
But it remains the Warm Heart of Africa to all who go there.
This just in from Aubrey: “Because of these developments, budgets for fuel are exceeded. As a hospital its a must that we run in order to save life. With these black outs, the generator is always on in order to carry out essential services which require power such as operations, oxygen concentrators etc. So far we thank God and our beloved donors for keeping the hospital going despite the fuel crisis.”
And this from teacher Andrew Goodson: “Very hot here now (and only two weeks ago it was chilly!). No petrol for three weeks, but some arrived in Mtunthama today. A huge queue formed, but after waiting for four hours, I gave up and went for lunch. At the front was a huge melee of shouting people, all with one or more unsafe-looking plastic cans designed for cooking oil, and somewhere in the middle the little man with the hose.”
A note on the needs
The most basic need is not glamorous – it is simply running costs, as the hospital grows so do our commitments to it – drugs, medicines, local staff costs, food transport. We also are committed to the orphanage. We try to send about £6,000 a month for basics plus of course occasional sums for developments. Of this about £2,000 comes from the wonderful 100 Club of regulars. Could you join that group with a pledged monthly gift? The rest comes from the generous events held at churches and schools, and by individuals. They are vital, as you can see from the figures. Thank you to all. As money allows we will be seeking to build more houses – about £10,000 for a pair of semi detached bungalow style houses; extend the Operating Theatre to allow more procedures (£3,500); extend the Labour Ward £(5,000) and buy equipment including incubators (c£3,000)
The Big Breakfast -February 24-26
Join our record breaking attempt at a charity breakfast! Put the date in your Diary, and an information pack will be on the new website. Invite a group of friends, give them breakfast, and ask for donations !
With my best wishes and thanks,