This week’s Mwaya Mondays blog is written by RIPPLE Africa volunteer Tine Westerdahl, who is a nurse from Denmark
I have now been at Mwaya Beach for six weeks – it is unbelievable how quickly time flies by and yet, on the other hand, I feel quite at home. I have a busy weekly routine, and I think that has helped me settle in so quickly to Malawian life.
My work alternates between the clinics in nearby villages helping at “under 5” clinics, outreach clinics, malnutrition clinics, etc. In between these clinics, I teach first aid and other health related subjects – I have even started to do a few computer lessons as well.
Once a week I go out with Collins, the RIPPLE Africa Senior Healthcare Coordinator, who visits clients in the community on his motorbike. Collins has a vast number of clients, and they all have an amazing story that deserves to be told.
Isaac is a five-year-old boy with congenital brain damage, which results in problems with the use of his legs. The main problem is his balance but, after a lot of practice, he can now walk with a stick. When using his stick, however, he is still unsteady and needs more training of his leg muscles and his balance to be able to walk more effectively.
Isaac walking with a stick
To make it easier for Issac to train his muscles and balance, we decided to try to build a walker for him. I enrolled the services of our day watchman Arnold, who is very good with his hands, to help me construct the walker. I found some plastic tubes that were not too heavy for a little boy to carry and then the creative work began. We finished constructing the walker… well, when I say “we” I mean Arnold was working with the plastic tubes and I was trying not to get in his way!
Arnold in the process of constructing the walker
Now the walker is finished, Collins and I needed to see if it would work. We took the walker to Isaac, and it only took him a few minutes before he got the idea of the walker and he started immediately to walk around the area. In the beginning only walking slowly straight forward, but after a few minutes he began to make turns. I have visited Isaac twice before today, and it is the first time I have seen him walking so much – I was afraid that he would actually have sore leg muscles that evening.
Isaac walking around with the walker
With so little resources available to the local people here, it is quite amazing how adaptable and creative they can be. The material to make the walker equated to about £2, and it just took a bit of creativity and determination to build it. Issac’s family would never be able to afford to buy an aid such as this walker, so it is purely down to the resourcefulness of the community to help solve an easy problem in the developed world but here is a constant challenge.
The lovely thing here is that everyone wants to try to help and takes great pride in it. When I came back to show Arnold the picture of Issac with his walker, he was so pleased to see his creation in action…he wanted to name it the “AB Walker” standing for “Arnold Banda’s Walker”. We will see if it makes patent!