So, what were the highlights? For me, it was seeing the hand-painted world map take shape on a Primary School wall. Then there was the last meal we shared with the orphans, after a fantastically fun afternoon playing five-a-side football, three-legged races and musical statues… there weren’t enough chairs to go round, so it was the Salopians who, uncomplaining, sat on the floor for their meal – and did the clearing up afterwards.
The plan is to make this the first of many visits to the Medic Malawi project. At the orphanage, home to 60 children, we weren’t really visitors at all – we were warmly welcomed as family, and all of us, male, female, staff and students, helped with the chores that needed doing – washing nappies, by hand, in cold water, for 10 babies, sweeping and mopping, minding the 20 toddlers, weeding the vegetable garden, cooking over an open fire for 60, bottle-feeding 10 babies and helping to move hundreds of bricks for the new extension.
Meanwhile, some Salopians found that teaching Primary School was fun, if exhausting, while others, belatedly, joined the adult volunteers who are digging the foundations for a new church. Work had begun at 4.30am!
There was a chance to do work experience with the dentist and the lab technician at the rural hospital which is next door to the orphanage, and to look at malaria parasites down a microscope. Important data about wells, water pumps and drainage was collected by the geographers.
The week before we arrived, a team of visiting British eye surgeons had driven their truck-load of equipment to the hospital and operated on over 100 blind people so that the next morning they could see again. Inspiring stuff, and they could do even more if the hospital had a permanent specialist eye clinic. Back in the UK, we had already raised £10,000, and it was great to see the space where the Shrewsbury School Eye Clinic will be built.
A few days of ‘R &R’ on safari, coming face-to-face with elephants and leopards, completed the African experience.
You are warmly invited to our Medic Malawi Presentation Evening on Thursday October 11th, at 7.30pm in the Ashton Theatre, where the students themselves will be talking about 2012, and whetting appetites for the visit in 2014.
More details can be found on the team's blog; more photos will be available on Flickr in due course.