Physio2

January 14, 2015

Meet the second year Physiotherapy students at the College of Medicine, University of Malawi. They are respectful, inquisitive and flexible – all great qualities for paving the way for the profession of physiotherapy in Malawi. Every year, I meet a new cohort of students. This was my fourth year to have the privilege of teaching at the College of Medicine. The first cohort has graduated and is doing a year long internship before they become fully licensed. The challenges are many – school strikes, changing faculty, fees, as well as the rigor of the program. I wish them all the best as they endure and represent our profession well. And, I thank them for their attention, great questions and welcoming attitude during our classes.

The School of Physiotherapy, University of Malawi College of Medicine

The School of Physiotherapy, University of Malawi College of Medicine

We had torrential rains this week - disaster level flooding and collapsing of houses in the region. Power and water out for days. Still, the students came to class. We gathered near the windows so they could see the handouts - and had a some great discussions.

We had torrential rains this week – disaster level flooding and collapsing of houses in the region. Power and water out for days. Still, the students came to class. We gathered near the windows so they could see the handouts – and had a some great discussions.

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Caught up in the moment

January 9, 2015

Malawi can be beautifully random or unsettlingly unpredictable – depending on your perspective at the time. I’ve taken a change to reflect on the past five weeks here – that have been punctuated by many wonderful moments. It’s relishing in these moments that grounds me as I negotiate patient care, family education and co-worker support in the context of the language and culture. In this case, “getting caught up in the moment” is a good thing – a mindfulness that is settling and reassuring.

I’m getting ready to leave St. Gabriel’s and go down south to Blantyre where I will teach next week at the University of Malawi, College of Medicine, School of Physiotherapy. I’ll miss my patients and hospital co-workers here. But, I look forward to seeing them again next year. Plans are in place for ongoing evaluation and reinforcement of our trainings in physical therapy for the community health workers over the next eight months. This will be a real effort to see the impact of our training on the patients in the villages – and to gather information so that our training next year can be more effective.

Thank you for sharing these moments with me.

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A group of goats watching therapy

Greetings...always, to and from everyone

Greetings…always, to and from everyone

Smiles with the hospital Matron

Smiles with the hospital Matron

A view of Katherine by the hospital main gate

A view of Katherine by the hospital main gate

St. Gabriel's Hospital, founded in 1959

St. Gabriel’s Hospital, founded in 1959

Wrapping the "chitenje" just right (with some help)

Wrapping the “chitenje” just right (with some help)

The tailors

January 6, 2015

The tailors (man and wife) in the nearby village of Namitondo are amazing. I’ve watched them over the years make so many things – some when given an example, but many when it’s just described. This year, the students had them make table runners, purses, aprons and hacky sacks.

On a side note – I had an interesting discussion with one of my students here a few weeks ago. She was noticing that people in the community have very defined roles – the tailor is a good example. Each person’s contribution is very important, and there is an overwhelming sense of responsibility to the community as a whole. However, she brought out a very insightful perspective – if you acquire a disability – let’s say you have a stroke. And, you are no longer able to carry out your role in the community – there is less flexibility here for you to adopt a new role. It tends to be difficult to assimilate back into a productive role if you are no longer able to assume the responsibilities you had prior to your illness. She makes a very relevant point – this year I’ve been doing a lot of home visits in the nearby village. Many of them are men who have had a stroke and can no longer assume their role in the community – school teacher, school principal, tailor, businessman. It is challenging for them to find another role that allows them to contribute to their community.Tailor_1

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GoPro!

January 4, 2015

Oh, boy! The GoPro was fun. The students used a cane as an extended arm for it during their stay (then called a “canema”), and got some great videos and pictures.

Evening soccer with the hospital in the background.

Evening soccer with the hospital in the background.

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A market view

A market view in Namitete (the bigger trading center that is a bike taxi ride away from our village)

The road from Lilongwe to Namitete

The road from Lilongwe to Namitete

The fields near the village -waiting for rain (since that time some has come, thankfully)

The fields near the village -waiting for rain (since that time some has come, thankfully)

Mike showing the kids a picture in the Namitete market

Mike showing the kids a picture in the Namitete market

Another  Namitete market view

Another Namitete market view

Jambalani! Take my picture!

Jambalani! Take my picture!

Kamangira

January 2, 2015

Happy New Year! Mafuno abwino chaka chatsopano!

I’ve taken pictures of the families in the village of Kamangira for many years. When I get home, I’ll print them and send them or bring them with me next year for them to keep. They are gracious people – welcoming me, remembering everything about my children and putting on their Sunday best for their photos.

The father of my friend - looking serious in this picture. He later posed for pictures that were in silly poses.

The father of my friend – looking serious in this picture. He later posed for pictures that were in silly poses.

My friend from Kamangira

My friend from Kamangira

Groundnut Auntie  - known for giving me groundnuts when I visit. She's inspiration for my daughter and asks about her every visit.

Groundnut Auntie – known for giving me groundnuts when I visit. She’s inspiration for my daughter and asks about her every visit.

The father and wife

The father and wife

Another Aunt

Another Aunt

It has taken me years to sort out  some of the family relationships in Kamangira (everybody is a brother or sister). This year, I was finally clear that the father, Groundnut Auntie and other Aunt are truly brothers and sisters.

It has taken me years to sort out some of the family relationships in Kamangira (everybody is a brother or sister). This year, I was finally clear that the father, Groundnut Auntie and other Aunt are truly brothers and sisters.