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Reflections on a volunteering placement in Malawi

3rd November 2017

I retired from Health Visiting two years ago, but as the saying goes… once a health visitor, always a health visitor! I still felt that I had some energy to commit to this type of work, so I decided to look for charitable work in a developing country.

Ish Fawcett – health visitor on her patch!

As luck would have it, just before Xmas last year, I saw an advert for a voluntary position as a Health Mentor working with a charity in Malawi called The Krizevac Project. I was fortunate to be chosen, so off I went to work in a Children’s Centre in a poor township just outside the city of Blantyre.

This charity was established 10 years ago to support the economic opportunities of the people who live in this township, but also to contribute to the health and wellbeing of the families living in the local community. For further information, go to www.krizevac.org

I loved being part of the staff at the Mother Teresa Children’s Centre. The Outreach Team provide a community support service through both individual family and group work. The ethos of the work at the Centre is similar to what we in the UK feel as a priority; that is to give children the best start in life. Each member of staff has had the same training in EYFS as Early Years workers here in the UK.

 

Some children of Chilomoni

Some children of Chilomoni

In Malawi, the life chances of children are greatly compromised because of both poor economic growth and also the related poverty associated with this situation. The general health status of children in Malawi is one of the poorest in the world and the infant mortality one of the highest.

A community parenting group

A community parenting group

However, working within the community of Chilomoni was a joy and such a privilege.  The families welcomed the support offered and were keen to be involved with any assistance given to enhance and promote their children’s health and wellbeing. I worked alongside the Outreach Team and supported the development of a variety of services including a growth clinic, parenting groups and child protection policy. The work was interesting and rewarding and it was easy to see the positive difference that the Charity’s input is having on the lives of vulnerable children and families in this deprived area of Malawi.  The improvement in health and subsequent life chances of the children registered with the Mother Teresa Children’s Centre is considerable and this is all done in a quiet, unobtrusive way.

MIdsidi hamlet where I lived

MIdsidi hamlet where I lived

I have returned from my placement in Chilomoni, but part of my heart is still in Malawi! The needs of this community are still great, as is, in my view, the need for health visiting philosophy and skills to support the wellbeing and development of these vulnerable families.

children playing with toys donated from the UK

children playing with toys donated from the UK

 

Experiencing bubbles for the first time

Experiencing bubbles for the first time

If anyone is interested in working with the charity or hearing more about my time in Malawi, please get in touch via my email address-  Ish.fawcett@btinternet.com

Also, one of the Directors of the charity would be pleased to discuss the role of a health visitor with the Outreach Team. The placement would be for  6 months and this would be for a single health visitor. Support would be offered during the placement. Please contact George.furnival@krizevac.org

Ish Fawcett