At Bread and Water for Africa® we have trusted grassroots partners in sub-Saharan Africa who we have provided support to for the orphan care, healthcare, clean water, food sustainability and other critical programs they operate for years, even decades.
But our executive director, Beth Tessema, is always on the lookout for new opportunities to partner with new (to us) organizations who share our mission and values.
Among them is the Our AIM Foundation (OAF) which we began partnering in 2021 with to construct boreholes in seven rural villages in Malawi that are currently providing some 1,500 Malawian children, parents and elders with convenient access to safe, clean water today.
In sum, our joint effort has resulted in the fact that they are no longer risking contracting waterborne diseases and/or parasitic infections from drinking contaminated water – no doubt preventing many illnesses, and even deaths!
Following that success, as well as others in the past year, we are now embarking on a pilot project with OAF to expand mobile medical clinics to serve residents of more than 125 villages across TA (Traditional Authority) Mkanda of Malawi within a 50-mile radius of the Tongozala clinic we provide support to.
Our goal, with the help of our generous supporters, is to raise $7,750 to fund a onetime project setup and six months of mobile van clinic support with each mobile clinic trip estimated to serve 200 children, parents and elders.
In its request for funding, OAF international program manager Sabrina Vatanshoeva stated that its main objective is addressing the problem of the lengthy distances over makeshift, dirt roads that those with chronic health concerns in need of regular treatment must travel to receive the medical treatment they need to survive.
“We aim to provide practical medical services to inspire, give hope and dignity to the remotest people,” she said in its funding request.
Its programs take place in the Mchinji District where the nearest clinic is up to 50 miles – one way – from the villages where they live.
And it’s clear that it would be virtually, if not certainly, impossible for practically anyone – especially the elderly and those in need of medical care – to walk 100 miles to get it.
Instead, through OAF’s medical outreach mission, Sabina explained “our clinic team monthly selects a village in dire need of the medical services we offer. Following a survey of the wellbeing of the villagers to learn what ailments are affecting them we devise a plan on how we can best provide the medical services which will be of most beneficial to them.”
Setting up a mobile clinic requires the medical professionals and support staff to load up a rented van to get the village where the residents provide them with a site where they can work.
“We are sometimes situated in classrooms (if the village even has a school), churches, or even under trees for shade,” she told us.
Between April 2021 and April 2022, the OAF mobile clinic served around 2,500 individuals during 11 outreach events in villages with names such as Chifipo, Msewa, Kamchere, Poko and Nsapato, according to Sabrina.
Among the most common health issues the medical staff treat there is something most Americans living in the U.S. never have to worry about – malaria – which OAF data confirms makes up about 25 percent of the treated population in a given village.
However, the more work they do the more they realize needs to be done.
At present, because OAF is able to only conduct the outreach clinics once per month, which at that rate would take 10 years to get to each of the targeted village one time, “makes us feel like we are not doing enough as we do have a large area to cater to,” said Sabrina.
Among those 218 treated at the mobile clinic operation at Chifipo in May 2021 (where 38 individuals received treatment for malaria) was 89-year-old Mr. Madalitso Banda.
“He was not feeling too well,” Sabrina reported. “When our nurse checked his vitals, it was found that he had hypertension. After being helped with medication, he was very thankful.”
In Mr. Banda’s own words: “I haven’t been feeling well for a while, but I could not travel to a hospital as they are very far from here.
“So, I just used traditionally available medicine and, as a matter of fact, there had not been much of an improvement. Thank you so much for coming to my aid.”
Chief Chifipo explained that “As we are very far from any hospital, people die on the road on the way to the nearest health service center. Women deliver their babies here due to the long distance to the health center which is 75 km (47 miles) away.
“This program is commendable and should be continued on a more frequent basis.
“We are pleading with you…”
And in conclusion, Sabrina noted:
“Outreach is imperative as it provides a chance to help people who are desperate for medical help but stranded due to the lengthy distances and unsafe roads to the hospital, are too weak to travel and have given up hope for treatment.”