Pictured Above; Phalazi women singing at the HIV awareness campaign
In my previous blog I discussed specific activities that we have been involved in over the past few weeks and the importance of them. I will continue that trend as there are a lot of significant stories to share, a couple of which stand out as the highlights of our Progressio placement. My last entry was concluded with the promise of writing about the nutrition assessment in Phalazi as well as the HIV awareness campaign that was held there, so it seems appropriate to talk about these first.
The nutrition assessment was conducted to monitor the health of children under five years old in Phalazi. This was a follow-up from the assessment conducted by the previous Progressio volunteers. We measured MUAC (mid-upper arm circumference) which is an indication of body fat, weight, height and the presence of oedema. In attaining these statistics we were then able to evaluate them and establish what needed to be done to ensure that the children were healthy. From the statistics we learnt that three children were malnourished; one of which had severely low MUAC and another that had +1 oedema – this being an excessive build-up of fluid in the body’s tissues which often causes swelling in the feet and ankles. We all found it quite shocking to learn about the health statuses of these three children, but it was gratifying to know that the assessment we had carried out would be used to improve their wellbeing. ASI would ensure this eventuality, but we did our bit in teaching the women in Phalazi on nutrition and the importance of in keeping people healthy. In addition, we also advised two women to visit Malingunde health centre to receive medicinal milk.
We also carried out an HIV awareness campaign in Phalazi. This was one of the events that we had been looking forward to throughout the placement as it promised to be well attended and there were going to be a number of activities that both the young and old would enjoy. We were even more excited about it after spending Tuesday and Wednesday visiting both the village and the youth group to see rehearsals of what they had been working on to perform at the campaign. Although the dramas we watched were in Chichewa, the enthusiasm of the people involved was evident and this was really pleasing to see. We were particularly impressed with the effort of the youth group, who had only been informed at short notice, and still managed to come up with a number of dramas and songs that were engaging and informative on the subject of HIV. The event took place on Thursday of that week and it was as enjoyable as expected. It was brilliant to see how passionate people were to learn about HIV and the importance of preventing it in a country where the pandemic is so prevalent. The day ended with everybody dancing in the setting sun as we attempted to look as cool as our Malawian friends – a scene I will not forget!
The other eagerly anticipated activity was the implementation of our special project – this being a key event in the Progressio project cycle. For the last few weeks we have discussed what our special project budget should be spent on. It is important to spend the money provided by Progressio on something that is not only necessary, but also sustainable as this is most useful to the people. We decided that our money would be spent on nine goats, five of which would be given to Katengeza and four of which would be given to Phalazi. We provided both male and female goats to ensure that the number of them would multiply in the future and that our gift would continue benefiting the communities, rather than being just a short-term aid. All of us find it great to know that in years to come, our actions will still be having an effect in the places we volunteered in.
Pictured Above; Two of the goats we gave to Phalazi.
So with that, I’ve come to the end of my blogging as a Progressio volunteer. To all those who have read any of my blogs, I hope you feel it has been a worthwhile use of your time. For me, this experience has been something I will remember forever. It has been great to travel to the fascinating country of Malawi and to meet such warm and welcoming people whilst being out here. I would recommend this experience to anyone. Don’t have any reservations, volunteer now!
Written by George Green