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Kahelele, Malawi School Program  |  Malawi Solar Project and Health Clinic
 
VIDA has developed a partnership with a community in Northern Malawi to assist in the construction of a school block for first and second graders. The school is located in Kahelele, in the Mzimba district. The first and second grade students currently attend school in a dilapidated building made of sticks, mud, and grass. The building pictured is the current building that the first and second graders are using. This structure lacks adequate shelter from rain.

Volunteers laid the first bricks for the new school in June 2011. The students are eager to begin classes in the new building. Progress has been steady and the school is almost complete.  
 
Malawi Solar Project
We installed solar power on an existing school in this community so that the students are able to work and study into the evening. Morningstar Corporation generously donated photovoltaic (PV) controllers for this project. Econauts LLC has volunteered to consult and design.
 
Volunteers became involved in this area several years ago and the community involvement remains very high. Community members have already started a breakfast program for students and they began making bricks in 2010 for the school block. Volunteers will break ground on the school in July 2011.
 
Malawi Health Clinic
In addition to the volunteers building the school and installing solar power, medical students and physician volunteers from the Temple University School of Medicine traveled to provide medical help and supplies to this community.
 
The World Health Organization has identified Malawi as one of the world’s poorest countries with the economic climate reflected in its health statistics.  Physician density per 10,000 population is 0.2 reflecting the overwhelming shortage of trained health professionals.  Total annual per capita expenditure on healthcare amounts to $18 (adjusted USD).  And as many as 1 in 14 Malawians are estimated to be living with HIV.   Further, the average life expectancy of a Malawian at birth is only 47 years [1].   These factors highlight the desperate need for medical assistance.
 
Volunteers were able to treat just over 350 men, women, and children.  Some patients who could not walk were transported by bicycle or ox-drawn cart traveling greater than ten kilometers, many waiting more than eight hours in the 90 degree heat to be treated.  On the final day of the clinic, our tireless volunteers worked by flashlight until midnight in order to see every patient who had been given a number and was willing to stay despite the dangers related to traveling after dark.  Primary complaints were musculoskeletal disorders, abdominal pain, headache, eye problems, fever, palpitations, and heart palpitations.  The most common clinical diagnoses were hypertension, upper respiratory infections, dehydration, cataracts, glaucoma, malaria, chronic muscle pain, peptic ulcer disease, fungal skin infections, and chronic malnutrition. A partner organization, Pamoza, has been working to combat malnutrition through programs that provide education, food, and protein supplements.

 




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