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Published: October 31st 2009
I’m in the St John office, just off Churchill road in Limbe (originally a separate town, but got swallowed up as Blantyre expanded). In the main room, there are 5 desks around the room, a large meeting table in the centre. There’s first aid equipment stacked at the far side of the room, along with a blackboard with the upcoming training events and duties. There is the state photo of the President, Dr. Bingu, above the blackboard and a photo of St John gate in London on the opposite wall. In addition to the various first aid and anatomical posters dotting the walls. The windows are open but bared with the ironwork that’s the norm for Malawi. Just outside is the reception and the co-ordinator’s office that holds the printer, copy machine and fax, and, at least for the moment, the only internet connection. There is a garden all around the building with fruit trees, which can be picked and eaten. It serves as a useful space for the meeting of the brigades and the project members that wouldn’t all fit inside.
As with St John in many places, Malawi focuses on first aid training to companies, looked after by Thomas Kaiya, and in the brigades and schools programs, co-ordinated by Fred Dempster, though in Malawi there are several other projects that are taking place, the Malaria project that ended in June but was successful and may be making a reappearance, the sit in guardian project and the (for the minute) primary health care project, Alekeni Banda’s department, the primary health care program is normally looked after by Catherine Waiga who is currently off after knee surgery. These are overseen by the co-ordinator Eleanor Kumdana. In addition to these members of staff there is also Aaron (), the treasurer, and Rosemary Mbawe the secretary.
Not in the office is the St John council, these are 16 senior members of St John that oversee all the parts of St John Malawi, the budget, training, events, all the aspects to make sure they’re working well. The President at the moment is James Naphambo, who works as a lawyer in Blantyre.
While I am here I have been given 2 aims to look at, the first is to visit and assess the schools program and see if I can make any suggestions towards improvements. So far I have thought of two main ways of doing this, the first being to make the clubs set up after training in the schools program to be more like cadet divisions, training the teachers to teach first aid and have them become members of the St John Family, and the other is to try and set up a monthly council, perhaps with the brigades as well, so that opinions and concerns can be voiced, notices and events given out and to allow everyone to feel a greater part of St John. The second aim is to assess the level of training and learning of first aid in both companies and brigades in Malawi. To do this I am thinking of organising a first aid competition, roughly based on my experiences with the UK competitions, but adapted to be more relevant for Malawi. In addition to these I want to be taking part in some of the projects taking place, in particular those concerned with primary health care.
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