SOS visit


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Africa
March 22nd 2010
Published: March 22nd 2010
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Though recently the rate of HIV in Malawi has been lower than in the surrounding Sub-Saharan African countries, only about 10% of the population affected, in the past it has been much more widespread causing many deaths (I think, correct me if I‘m wrong). This along with the very high rate of Malaria in the country means that today there are a great many orphans in the cities. Walking down any of the main streets of Blantyre, Limbe or Lilongwe, so many of the beggars are children, only about 10 years old doing small jobs for a few kwatcha a time or just going from person to person asking for money (though admittedly there have also been reports of parents exploiting their children sending them begging on the streets rather than sending them to school, so not all are orphans). This is where orphanages like the SOS Children’s Villages International (where Madonna adopted David Banda from) are so useful, not only in caring and looking after them, but also in fulfilling their educational needs with Primary and Secondary education.
On Friday we had an educational visit from orphans from the SOS centre in Machanjiri, Blantyre. The group was supposed to be arriving in the afternoon around 2pm, so the morning was spent preparing for their visit, setting up the different displays, printing out the handouts, and hoping and praying it didn’t start raining. We’d roped in the Brigade members to help with the demonstrations (the meeting the week before had been spent practicing) so they started arriving about 1pm, several more practice runs to make sure they knew what they were supposed to be doing and to make any changes needed. Just before 2 those who remembered to wear uniform lined up beside the gate to welcome the guests. 2 o’clock came and went, no bus, letting the brigade wander off but asking them to be ready should they arrive we kept a up a watch on the road leading to out offices. Half past went, somewhat frustrated we tried phoning up. No reply. Eventually we managed to get through and were told they were on their way. A little longer went by, then some more.
You’ll be happy to know they did eventually arrive (there had been a problem with the bus), they were welcomed by Mr Kaiya and Mrs Kumdana, then split into groups and taken (swiftly) to each of the displays; demonstrations and practice of First Aid by the brigade (recovery position, slings, immobilizing a fracture, and transporting a casualty using a stretcher) and showing what we do with Home Based Care, before all coming together at the end for a short video on bleeds and choking (St John Canada, the acting’s hilarious). My job in this was to run round taking videos of everything that we could put together on a CD and send to them, so my time was spend drifting around getting video and photos of all the groups (which I didn’t manage to do, only got 4 of the 5 groups as we had to cut it short so we could move on). After the video everyone gathered in front of the office for photos, then a goodbye speech where Mrs Kumdana gave all the kids a St John Sticker.
The kids were great; polite, well behaved, asking questions and getting involved with the displays, and I think they had a good time. I hope they learnt something about what we do and maybe we’ll have some more interaction, either training them or them getting involved with St John, at some point in the future.

Tionana


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22nd March 2010

Orphanage visit
Sounds great, just the sort of thing you were hoping to be involved with, during your time out there.

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