Posts Tagged ‘BSHDC’

A Reflection on Malawi

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

This is a reflection I wrote for the quarterly newsletter of the Blantyre Synod Health & Development Commission (BSHDC)

Our group of eleven Canadians landed at Chileka airport at noon on a Saturday and our whirlwind tour of Blantyre Synod began. For the next fourteen days, as we visited the various BSHDC programs, we would experience many things, meet many people, and have many of our assumptions, about Malawi and ourselves, challenged in abrupt and unexpected ways.

There were a few particular words we heard often during our stay in Malawi. One was, of course, ‘azungu’, but another, heard even more often, was ‘welcome’. There was a third word, however, that I heard only twice or three times during the whole trip but it is the one word that has had the most impact on me: Chisomo. Grace.

Malawi: Day Five

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

20120425-DSC_425220120425-DSC_428020120425-DSC_429620120425-DSC_433420120425-DSC_436320120425-DSC_4384Wednesday: The day began with a short drive out of Blantyre north to Lirangwe. Once there, we were greeted by a sea of school-children who just happened to be out in the yard when we arrived. The Blantyre Synod Health & Development Commission rents office space from the school.

Once through the small army of very excited children, we were briefed by the BSHDC staff on the various programs that are undertaken in the Lirangwe area – funded through PWS&D. From there we were taken to see some of the programs in person. First was a “bore-hole” water pump. This differs from a “shallow-well” water pump only in the depth that is drilled. A bore-hole, while enabling the pump to be farther from a surface water source (and therefore closer to where it is needed in the villages, is also much more expensive and difficult to construct. The BSHDC uses a combination of bore-holes and shallow-wells to improve the water supply needs in its program areas.

20120425-DSC_4488We were then taken to see a bore-hole that had been installed about six months ago. The local committee told us that they had experinced a complete elimination of water-borne disease in their community since the installation of the bore-hole.

Were were then taken to an agricultural program where BSHDC is encouraging villages to modernize their planting practices and diversify their crops. This means moving away from the very common “ridge farming” and shifting from maize-only to cassava, ground-nuts and other crops.

20120425-DSC_4721We were back to Blantyre for lunch at the BSHDC head office where we had a lengthy discussion about the challenges and opportunities of the work that BSHDC does.

For the afternoon, we split into four groups to do some home visits to patients of the BSHDC’s Home-Based Care program. In the group I was in, we met Stephen who suffers from a variety of illnesses and relies on this program for his very survival. Rev. Mike Burns presented Stephen with a prayer shawl that had been donated by Knox Presbyterian Church in Waterloo, Ontario.

Then it was on to a BSHDC-run program called Children’s Corners where activities are planned for neighbourhood children. The group was split into two, and there are photos here from both groups.

After an early supper, it was off the Prayer House meetings. Again, we split into two groups, each attending a different prayer house. The photos here are from Thanthwe Prayer House. You can read more about Thanthwe on the Burns’ blog here:

Malawi: Day Four

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

20120424-DSC_3813Tuesday: Half of our group went to Chichiri Prison to participate in a bible study for inmates run by our own Rev. Mike Burns. No cameras were allowed at the prison, so that outing is not represented here.

The other half of the group went with Debbie Burns to visit the homes of some of the members of the Tidzalerana Club in the Ndirande neighbourhood of Blantyre. We were accompanied by Hamilton Banda, a local community leader and volunteer. The group reunited at the Tidzalerana Shelter where some of the most vulnerable Club members live.

Back to Annie’s for lunch, Ted and I snuck up the road to check out St. Andrew’s International High School where my grandmother taught and my mom attended back in the sixties.

20120424-DSC_4114In the afternoon it was back to Ndirande to visit the regular Tidzalerana Club program for diabled adults and children. Here the club members and there caregivers come together every Tuesday for worship, a meal and fellowship.

At the end of a long day, the group gathered after dinner for a time of devotion and reflection on our first real day of witnessing the struggles facing the people of Malawi.