Sunday, 14 December 2008


As I sit here in the comfort and warmth of my brothers home in England I am thinking of Malawi . I want to write to update you with news of my women and babies, left behind, so far away in a different reality to that in which I now find myself. We arrived this morning after a long and tiring flight through Lusaka and Nairobi. With just 30 minutes left before landing we were told that due to intense fog conditions at Heathrow airport we would likely have to divert to Amsterdam. At that moment it just seemed too much to bear! I confess I sent up a word to the Almighty for a safe landing...preferably at Heathrow!
After circling for 20 minutes we were told we could land a Gatwick....that was better, at least we would be in England! With 5 minutes till landing another announcement told us we would be turning round to land at Heathrow as planned.. the fog had lifted! Joy of joys we arrived only 40minutes later than scheduled. What a priviledge to have that feeling of somehow being "looked after"
I went to visit Flora twice before I left. I took her some more food and some of my daughter Fionas old clothes. She was so happy to receive them especially a pair of pink shoes that I had no need of. On the first visit her investigations had still not been done nor had she been transfused the prescribed blood. I insisted that this be done and they assured me they would attend to it. I was not confident but could do no more. The second time I visited she had already been discharged home. I went to see the attending clinician and together we examined her file, She had been given 2 bags of blood, her Hb had risen to 6.2. The investigations revealed her to be suffering from a common parasite found in the waters of Lake Malawi( Bilharzia) This had been adequately treated. As chronic condition this had been the cause of her severe anaemia . There was no reason to think that she should not now recover fully. I left the hospital feeling happy and content. Although I did wonder what would have happened, if the outcome would have been different had I not taken a special interest in her? I hope that one day when I visit the lake I will be able to find her and see how she is progressing.
The day before leaving I took a trip out to the villages to follow up my twins, Edward and Alex. Pilirani had called me two weeks ago saying that they were starting to go hungry. Last years maize was finished and they were now planting for a harvest in March of 2009. I took with me a 50kg. sack of maize which should feed her family for a month. As usual all the children came running out to greet me. They all want to watch over my car or carry my bags as they know this will result in a 20mk or 50 mk payment. I sat down to talk to the ladies of the village. Looking round at them all especially the children I was overwhelmed by such a strong feeling that whatever I brought, however much, it would never be enough. This is how I have been feeling these last days . Never, oh never enough!
After a short trip this afternoon to a local shopping centre I find myself with all sorts of confusing feelings and emotions and cant stop thinking about my life in Lilongwe so different, so far removed from what I will be seeing and experiencing during the next few weeks. I look at the busy people rushing around doing their Christmas shopping seemingly totally unaware of what it is like for my poor women and babies in Malawi. I want to scream and shout and tell them to stop buying un necessary things, to stop spending their money on trivialities, what importance have they? dont they realize that just a plane journey away the people are suffering, are hungry, have nothing, no presents, no chocolates, no pillow to lay their head, no shoes on their feet. Different countries, different realities.
As I passed through labour ward on Friday to bid farewell to my colleagues a young woman called to me, her arms outstretched, " Nursey, nursey come and help me, please come and help me! " I could see that the babys head was close to being born. I could not attend her. I had other things to do. I had no uniform or gloves. What excuses I gave! I called to another Malawian midwife to attend ..the birth was imminent. " No, no, no the young woman pleaded with me " You nursey..., asungu, asungu, asungu......" ( She wanted this white woman to care for her, not anyone, just this white woman) I had to leave, the other midwife went to her. I can still see her arms stretched out to me and hear her voice " asungu, asungu!" and I left...
And here I am in England, doing my Christmas shopping along with all the rest.........


SuperWoman said...

You know that one person cannot take the whole weight of the world in her shoulders, but I guess that makes no difference whatsoever to what you feel now...
Merry Xtmas Rachel... you are one of the real Superwomans in this world.

carmen said...

Hola Rachel, soy Carmen, de España. Estuvimos contigo en noviembre y estamos contactando con profesionales de zaragoza para ir a malawi.
Querría hablar contigo pero no contestas a mis correos y no es facil con la linea telefonica.
Dime como te puedo contactar.
Tienes skype?
A que hora puedo llamarte?
Mi correo es
besos Carmen