Saint Faith's and Medic Malawi

Latest updates added October 2007 at the foot of this page

Saint Faith's has for many years supported a series of overseas churches, hospitals and schools as ongoing Missionary Projects. Members of the congregation have provided funding through fund-raising events and personal gifts, and receive news of the results of their efforts through links with the countries concerned.

For several years now, our project has been MEDIC MALAWI, an organisation which supports the Anglican hospital and school at Mtunthama in the African state of Malawi. Members of our congregation have visited Malawi on several occasions, and we have been delighted to be visited in turn by clergy and lay people from Malawi.

Our support over the years has helped to alleviate critical food shortages and has also helped to expand the vital facilities offered by the Saint Andrew's Clinic, and has also done much to finance the building and supplying of the Saint Faith's Kindergarten; we are pleased and proud that this school carried the name of our Church. It is good also to be able to report that the congregation of our sister Church of Saint Mary, Waterloo Park, have now pledged to fund the wages of a kindergarten teacher there on a regular basis.

On this page you can read news and pictures from Medic Malawi, reporting on the work done and support given by many churches and organisations. We begin with a report, reproduced from a 2004 edition of our parish magazine 'Newslink', complied by Margaret Houghton. It is accompanied by photographs of the schoolchildren, sporting their distinctive 'Saint Faith's' pullovers and accompanied by the Ven. Frank Dzantenge and his wife Eunice - and also of the clinic staff at Mtunthama. Further information and pictures are added beneath as bulletins are received from various sources.

Follow the link at the foot of this page for the official Medic Malawi website.


'As in a lot of successful ventures, little is forthcoming when all is running smoothly; hence the absence of recent news about St. Andrew’s Clinic, Mtunthama.. However, I hope that supporters at St Faith’s will find the following information not just of interest, but an astounding list of achievements concerning the on-going development of Medic Malawi.

Staff at Saint Andrew's Clinic now number 40, between 40 to 70 outpatients are seen daily, mainly for malaria, diarrhoea, pneumonia, accidents and, unfortunately, increasing numbers of meningitis. Three to four people are admitted daily with serious conditions of the above. Anaemia is also a great problem among the young. Ante-natal clinics are held twice a week, attended by 50 to 70 patients. Between two and five babies are born at the clinic each day, with a maximum of 8 in one night! The under-5 clinic, started during the dreadful famine two years ago, is receiving much needed help from UNICEF, Action Against Hunger, CHAM, and Norwegian Church Aid.

Donations of maize flour, cooking oil, milk, blankets, mosquito nets and some medical supplies has eased the pressure on Medic Malawi, and frees funds to allow further developments. Two Homecraft workers have joined the team to teach nutrition,  hygiene  and  child  care.   Once  a week,  a  demonstration  meal is provided, teaching mothers how best to make use of the foods available; the children of those attending are given a meal, and then take home enough food to feed them for the rest of the week. Also under way is an under-5 immunisation programme against measles, T.B. and polio.

Soon the local chiefs, who control all the land surrounding the Hospital, are to be approached, with a view to their providing more land for further developments. A second ambulance has now been purchased and so sights are set on starting Outreach Clinics in areas where there is no medical care available, and establishing follow-up clinics in the villages to build on the work of the under-5 nutrition programme.

St Faith’s Kindergarten is thriving. Forty children, about half of whom are orphans, attend each day. They play, learn songs and rhymes and are fed. With funds donated by a Dawlish lady, toys, including a tricycle, have been provided, together with much-needed cash to pay the helpers, who have worked as volunteers for the past few months, as money has been in short supply. This will be sufficient to tide the kindergarten over until St. Mary’s, Waterloo Park, manage to establish their support for the upkeep of salaries, which is a wonderful and much-needed opportunity to continue the basic work these helpers have been doing.

All water to the Hospital is now supplied from their own bore-hole, no more pipes running from the lake at Kamuzu Academy. The management team at the Hospital is indeed excelling itself! Increasing confidence in its abilities means Medic Malawi can look forward to them being able to take on more and more of the major decisions.

Although it is a delight to report all these successes, beyond the wildest dreams of the founders of Medic Malawi, there is always the ever-close concern of further food shortages. Indeed it is anticipated that by October of this year another major food shortage will have started, although hopefully not as severe as the last.

It is because of such constant dangers that it never pays to be complacent; the support so generously given by St. Faith’s congregation and friends is ever needed, and guaranteed to ‘hit where it hurts’ every time.

Many, many thanks for the continued interest and help provided.'

Click on any of the images below for a larger picture.

Bulletin May 2005

Margaret Houghton writes again in our parish magazine:

It is my great pleasure in writing that for the second time I can report the continuing well-being of St.Andrew’s Clinic, Mtunthama and its staff.
Unfortunately the anticipated arrival of a young volunteer doctor to work at the Academy, with a built-in arrangement to work one day a week at St.Andrew’s, did not happen and so still no doctor.  However, things are moving at a fast pace and the Clinic now possesses a fully operating scanner and so can provide an up to date service to the community in modern diagnoses.  Also, thanks to Medic Malawi’s ever generous supporter making a further anonymous donation of £10,000, the laying of the foundations for the long awaited operating theatre is now underway.  Thank you so much for all you are doing to help the Clinic, which would not have progressed so much without your financial support.
St. Faith’s kindergarten is more than thriving; positively overflowing.  Orphans are now arriving to take their place, which can present a problem, how can they be turned away?  Having found a place for them at the kindergarten, it is a natural progression to take responsibility for them, no mean task without accommodation and carers.  Is this going to be another project, one might ask.  I think not; frequently Malawi children are called orphans when they lose one parent.
This year more young people are planning visits to St. Andrew;s Clinic to help in various ways.  Indeed at present two young people are offering time during their GAP year, fulfilling any roll asked of them. The feedback is great enthusiasm of being part of such a community and experiencing the warmth of the welcome they have received and the gratitude of the Malawi people for all the help given.
Over the past few months friends of Medic Malawi at St. Faith‘s have donated over £400; a tremendous help and I do so thank these people.

Our photos show 'before and after' scenes at St Andrew's Clinic (above) and Eunice and Frank Dzantenge and Dot and Mac Forsyth (below) 
Click on any of the images for a larger picture.


August 2007

Over the last twelve months there has been the most impressive progress. The Operating Theatre is finished and awaits only the necessary equipment and an anaesthetist to start functioning.; there is a large surgical ward nearing completion, which should be finished by end of October; a very large storage building has been constructed to keep goods supplied by various NGO’s such as World Food Programme for the NRU. The Orphan House has doubled in size and will be able to cater for about fifty children; the laboratory now has a blood bank; there is a dedicated Voluntary Counselling and Testing room for HIV/AIDS patients; Dentaid will be sending out a refurbished Dental Surgery in the third week of September, and we already have staff who will be able to carry out dental procedures.

During July, three groups of young people from UK visited the campus to work on various projects.
Wrekin College from Shropshire paid a second visit in order to complete the second wing of the Orphan House. Quite apart from general support for Medic Malawi, they have made the orphans their special concern. This year they funded the construction of the second phase of the Orphan House, and built a kitchen to cater for 50-plus people. Additionally they started work on an irrigated garden to provide “relish” throughout the year, and made a play area for the children. The Orphan House is so well run that Florence and Boyson, the volunteers who look after the children, have to do a numbers check at the end of each day because other village children try to stay in the Orphan House rather than in their own homes!
St.Peter’s School, Exeter also paid a second visit. Whilst working with the NRU is one element of their activities – they livened up the NRU with some fun logos on the walls – they are most closely involved with the Secondary School. They have set up an internet link with the school, and have funded project work for the students of both schools to share their research. For example, they arranged for the All Saints’ students to spend time at the lakeshore studying geography topics, whilst the St.Peter’s students worked on similar research in Devon; both groups were then able to share the information they had learned. St.Peter’s  hope to arrange an exchange for teachers and students in the near future.
A group of young people from Islay spent some time in Mtunthama as part of an adventure activity under the auspices of Outdoor Expeditions. They began the work of building a science lab for the Secondary School. There were two other groups from Outdoor Expeditions at other locations in Malawi; we hope that the All Saints’/St.Andrew’s campus will become a regular feature of their activities.

It is remarkable that only six years ago St.Andrew’s was a small rural clinic with only a dozen staff: it is now a Community Hospital with a staff of 58! Many of them have been with the project from the beginning, and one of the really encouraging things is the fact that so many have progressed by dint of training courses to upgrade their qualifications. The schools have grown enormously in both numbers and buildings/facilities, t6he kindergarten goes from strength to strength whilst provision for orphans is improving all the time. It is good to see more and more volunteers choosing to spend time at one or other of the projects, and we aim to build a house over the next year or so to provide accommodation for them.
We noted that not only are health professionals from Kasungu General Hospital choosing St.Andrew’s, but also the maternity unit is becoming popular with the midwives from Lilongwe General Hospital to have their own babies! The MP for Kasungu East chooses St.Andrew’s for his family’s health care.

The NRU continues to be central to the work of Medic Malawi. Several NGO’s support the work, but their criteria are more rigorous than we would wish, in that children have to be seriously malnourished before they become eligible for help. As almost half of all children in Malawi are chronically malnourished, at St. Andrew’s we seek to provide food and health care to children before they reach the point of malnutrition which would attract help from the NGO’s. This means that we need to fund both feeding programmes and health care supplements. We are also hoping to increase the follow-up procedures once children are discharged, in order to ensure their ongoing treatment and support.

It has always been the philosophy of Medic Malawi that the projects belong to the people of Mtunthama, that ultimately they must be responsible for managing and developing the work initiated by supporters here in UK. It is therefore especially encouraging to find an HIV/AIDS project in nearby Wimbe run entirely by volunteers, headed by Peter Minjale, one of our Clinical Officers. There is a team of 7 trained counsellors, each of whom has accepted responsibility for three villages, which he/she has undertaken to visit at least three times a week. Some of those villages involve a journey of 15kms each way. As there is no transport, they go on foot! We hope that we shall be able to send out some bicycles with the container due to go at the beginning of September.

Another impressive project being run by local people is an agricultural cooperative. Having been provided with initial funding for seeds and fertiliser, they are now producing excellent crops for sale. The profits are used to purchase more seed and fertiliser, and to further develop the scheme. Those currently involved have their own bank account for the cooperative, and there is a waiting list of people wishing to join. The scheme does depend on a reliable water supply, and at present there are four locations adjacent to dambo areas (marshy land) in use, but the intention is to find and develop more such areas.

At the end of this month we are sending a container of goods and equipment to Mtunthama. This will include medical equipment, computers for both Hospital and Secondary School, books for both Primary and Secondary Schools, and of course the Land Rover/ambulance.

Our visit this year has been immensely encouraging. Not only are all the projects with which Medic Malawi is involved running successfully, but we gained a sense that the whole country is much more positive than previously. The harvest this year ranged from good to “bumper” and we can be optimistic that any food shortages will be relatively minor.

One final thing: the increasing number of young people visiting Mtunthama, either with groups or as individuals, is serving to build bridges and foster understanding across the divides of distance and cultures.

Dot and Mac Forsyth

Bulletin October 2007

Margaret Houghton supplied this article for our parish magazine

A  Brighter Future for Mtunthama, Malawi

It is ten years since Mac and Dot Forsyth discovered the poverty of the people of Mtunthama and six years since Medic Malawi was launched.  From that time the medical and social care available to the population has improved beyond imagination.  First slowly; a gift of £500, received via Chris Price, enabled the foundations to be dug and laid before the rains set in. From then a dream became reality, as three extremely generous donations followed in quick succession, thus securing the future of Medic Malawi.  These donations clearly marked the beginning of something ‘big’ as the first years of hand made bricks, mud kilns and red earth became history; in their place stands an efficient, spotlessly clean hospital, offering residential and outpatient care, a maternity unit, a laboratory, now with its own blood bank, a dedicated voluntary counselling and testing room for HIV/AIDS patients, a refurbished dental surgery supplied by Dentaid, opening this month with staff already trained and ready to carry out dental procedures and an operating theatre, now awaiting the necessary equipment and an anaesthetist, to start functioning.  Add to this a kindergarten, primary school, secondary school and an orphan house large enough to accommodate fifty children and the enormity of the projects unfolds. 

It has always been the philosophy of Medic Malawi that the projects belong to the people of Mtunthama; that ultimately they must be responsible for managing and developing the work initiated by supporters here in UK. It is therefore especially encouraging to find an HIV/AIDS project in nearby Wimbe, run entirely by volunteers, headed by Peter Minjale, one of Medic Malawi’s clinical officers. There is a team of seven trained counsellors, each of whom has accepted responsibility for three villages, which he/she has undertaken to visit at least three times a week. Some of those villages involve a journey of 15kms each way. As there is no transport, they go on foot! By the time this article is read, donated bicycles for their use will be on their way, care of the container, together with  goods and equipment donated by many church congregations throughout UK, including St. Faith’s.  

Was it fun or was it madness to undertake the loading of a 40-foot container with everything from baby milk to three examination tables for the hospital and a Land Rover to act as an ambulance? Well, after two days of filling sacks in a cow shed, pig sty and sheep pen, it did not matter, it was the overwhelming response to the appeal which meant so much. And what about the container itself? This is earmarked for a cinema following the donation of a 28-inch flat screen television and numerous DVDs and videos, thus providing entertainment at a small charge and much needed funds for the hospital. Nothing is wasted. 

So the future looks bright for Mtunthama.  The harvest this year ranged from good to bumper and with all projects running successfully optimism prevails.

Ambuye akhale nanu
May the Lord be with you!


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