When there is no cure, prevention is key.
Malawi’s health care system is already hopelessly underfunded and understaffed. For example - Copenhagen’s hospital budget for children under 16, is more than the whole of Malawi’s national health budget.
In Malawi, there are 17 ventilators, of which not all are working. Oxygen is found in only 2 hospitals nationwide.
On Likoma Island, our cottage hospital (supporting 15,000 islanders & 25,000 Mozambicans - our neighbours 5km away across the lake) does not have a single doctor.
Our most senior medical professional is a Health Assistant. The hospital staff have no PPE to protect them against the corona virus and there are very few testing kits within the country. Those kits that are available are based in the urban conurbations, far from Likoma.
Widge made a conscious decision to come back to Malawi in early March 2020, as she knew she had a job that she could do.
On arriving in Malawi she was asked to self-quarantine on the mainland and arrived back on Likoma in mid-March. The island has formed a Corona Task Force, consisting of the District Commissioner, Health Advisors, Chiefs of Villages, Priests and a member of the District Assembly. Widge was asked to join the Task Force as a result of the work that she has done within the communities, providing cups and menstrual health advice.
From her experience of teaching women about personal hygiene and the network of women’s village groups set up from her Menstrual Cup Project, it was decided that Ufulu Malawi could positively contribute by providing anti-bacterial soap to every single household. The idea is to educate and encourage frequent & safe hand washing across the island.
Throughout her time on Likoma, Widge has been based at Mtaya Boma, South Island, a camp run by her old friend Andrew Came, who has been on Likoma on and off since 1994. Andrew’s team of carpenters have started building foot-operated hand washing stations outside every house or hut on the island. In most villages over 50% of houses have no access to tap water. These hand-wash stations are simple and easy to make, consisting of 4 gum poles, a 5L container and some fishing line or string – items every family can easily find. Over 250 stations were built in the first 4 days.
Ufulu Malawi is now on a massive drive, to provide a bar of Dettol soap to every household – that equates to over 1,500 houses. This is a huge effort, but we are determined to help as much as we can and make sure there is NO CORONA ON LIKOMA. The majority of people here are subsistent farmers and fishermen, living on US$2 per day. Anti-bacterial soap is a luxury that few can afford.
Ufulu has already bought 2,000 bars of soap and will continue to provide throughout this outbreak, for as long as we are able.
If you can help, we would be most grateful.
£1 will buy a bar of soap – can you spare £1?
Please go to the donate button below.
Together we are stronger and thank you so much for any help you are able to give to this beautiful but vulnerable community.