Malawi …

« Muli bwanji ? » (How are you?). It has been a while since I last posted but I have been so busy that it has been difficult for me to take time to share my experiences. Anyway, here we are.

Nairobi

During the end of October, I have spent 4 days at Nairobi. Members of Malawi’s Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and the principals of the nursing colleges were invited by AMREF’s Headquarter to propose that I join them in the field to witness the efficiency of the e-learning projects implantation in Kenya. I lodged in the comfortable apartment of two other GSK volunteers, Alicia from Australia and Karoline from Dresden. I had previously met Karoline during our training session in June.

Nairobi is very different from Lilongwe. It is a very modern town situated at 1600 m, with large building adorned with the trademarks by “IBM,” “SAMSUNG” and “ORACLE.” It has large avenues and huge traffic jams, but also a few small markets at some intersections where you can buy anything.  It felt at times like I was in some of the cities in the south of France. Lilongwe is closer to the root of Africa.

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e-learning study tour team

I met people from the Nairobi Ministry of Health and nursing college. I went in the south to visit a hospital in the Masaï area where you can see goats and cows walking between the wards. I saw some Masaï who proudly wore their local clothes and jewelry. We then discussed with the nurses in order to learn about their experience with the e-learning program and how they manage to study and work at the same time.

The last day we stayed in Nairobi to visit offices at Amref HQ. The new CEO is an ex-GSK employee! It is a big building that is quiet modern and has a good restaurant, library and nice atrium. Nothing comparable with my Lilongwe office ;-).

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Amref Health Africa HQ Nairobi

I passed a few hours with Amref IT people to present my deployment strategy for Malawi. They agreed with my choice to create a central e-learning platform on the web for the entire country and gave me their full support. I was happy with that. The last day, Karoline proposed that we visit the city center and we spent sometime in the handcraft market and finished the day in a small restaurant. It was a good time.

 

 

e-Center

Nearly every week, I go into the field to setup e-centers in the nursing colleges and hospitals of the country.  Sometimes, I am gone for 3 or 4 days, driving for 350 km to reach the nearest city. We work there then we continue the next day our trip to reach the next town.

I setup and configure the project’s computers in classroom, libraries or any other room. Most of the time, the place does not meet requirements in terms of security, power supply, internet or furniture.  This despite the fact that they have received our requirement checklist some weeks before. We then report the missing equipment and plan for another date. You have to be patient in Malawi and frustration is part of the daily job! Fortunately, I have other documentary projects and I move often from one to another.

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e-center of Blantyre

One obstacle for the project is cost of a secure and reliable internet connection that an hospital have to pay monthly.
It is really a shame because they have to spend more than 1000$ a month to get a connection of only 500 mbps. I cannot ask to a college or hospital to spend such an amount when they don’t have an existing connection. In these cases, I give a dvd with the e-learning content.

Rainy season

December is the start of the rainy season. Sometimes violent storms show the usefulness of gutters that are often 50 cm deep. The noise created by the torrential rain on tin roofs together with the roar of the wind is deafening. The world stops for a time. It’s almost dark. The temperature drops a few degrees then rises once more with the return of the sun.

Staying Alive Part 2.

Here find the second documentary video I made about the Staying Alive project.
This time, we focused on the Fistula problem that young pregnant women face after the delivery.
You will see the testimony of a patient, a nurse and a surgeon who will tell you why it is so important to continue to support these projects in Malawi.

To all my followers I say : Zikomo (Thank you)

Pascal