Petro Yasita is the chief of 12 small villages and was completely blind before he had cataract surgery. His smile speaks for itself…
We are so thankful to report that we just finished two successful medical outreaches in Malawi. The Doctors For Life International (DFL) teams camped at both places and each area offered its own challenges. The first outreach was near Mangochi (at the southern tip of lake Malawi). At first it was a challenge finding patients but the local tribal chiefs were very supportive and even brought patients to us! In total we saw about 725 patients with eye problems. We did approximately 34 eye surgeries (cataracts, trachoma and even cancer removals), treated 220 with eye drops and 267 received free reading and distance eye glasses. The medical team included Dr Theunis Botha (Ophthalmologist), Miss Sandra Grunewald (ophthalmic nurse), Mrs Angelika Bohmer (general nurse), and Mr Pieter Bos (microbiologist). Local Malawi medical staff also assisted. The team camped on the local school grounds. Students and children from the community were eager for health education sessions. Hundreds of children surrounded our campsite!
The other location we worked was south in the Phalombe district, Mambala, on the eastern border of Malawi and Mozambique. We worked in the same area the previous year. The local Member of Parliament, the honourable MP Dennis Phiri, is fully supportive of the work. Dr Bruce Philips, the Ophthalmologist, was joined by his wife Nikki who assists him in his private practice. Miss Grunewald, the ophthalmic nurse, stayed on for the second outreach as well, assisting Dr Philips in theatre. Mr Bekanese, a Malawian ophthalmic technician also assisted at times. A total of 38 surgeries were performed under challenging conditions. Outside temperatures were as high as 40 degrees celsius.
In addition to the ophthalmic staff, the medical team was joined by dentist, Dr Herbert de Graaf, who pulled 345 teeth in one week! He also screened approximately 317 dental patients. On the final evening the dental team worked until 11pm. Even Dr Philips, after completing his eye surgeries, helped the dental team with suturing. About 200 patients received eye glasses and about 100 were helped with eye drops and medication. The community was extremely thankful and receptive to DFL’s help in the region. The medical work also opened new doors for sharing the love of Christ in these needy regions. Devotions were held before the start of the clinics each day and were received with open arms. Many children also attended the meetings at the schools where the teams camped.
Lastly, we are making plans to move a specially designed mobile clinic to Malawi to start our second permanent clinic (our first clinic was started in Zavora, Mozambique, in 2003). We plan to use the mobile clinic in Malawi, a large 4 ton unit pulled by a truck that was donated by Medical Mission International, until we obtain sufficient funds to construct a building there. We have been allocated land in a remote area called Chikuluma, near the Lewonde National Park. Our first step is to register DFL in Malawi and then the formal application process begins. It is uncertain how long this process will take but we hope it will be completed soon!
Thank you to all who joined hands with us on this medical outreach in Malawi. Your contribution made a huge difference to the lives of many people who are now able to see again and has also been a positive influence on the community as a whole.