PILGRiMAGE 2006 STORIES

Christina Mitchell | Lara Case | Catie Hungerford
Lee Livingston | Vance Tilton | Teresa Turner

MALAWI, A NURSE’S VIEW by Vance Tilton
I have recently returned from Malawi with the St. David’s delegation and, while there, was able to get a picture of healthcare in that impoverished country. There are poorly staffed and undersupplied public hospitals, and private hospitals for people with more wealth. My experience was with the public facilities. Queen Elizabeth Hospital is the largest public facility in Malawi. It is in Blantyre, and is a teaching hospital for the College of Medicine and the College of Nursing. My host family’s sister is an RN on the orthopedic floor at QEH. She is the only RN, assisted by 4 aides, for a 65-bed unit. She works 10-hour days, 5 days a week. She did not have a stethoscope until I gave her mine. I also spoke with Mrs. Annie Ndewee. She works the night shift on the labor/delivery unit, where they often do not have enough exam gloves, a great risk considering that HIV/AIDS has infected 40+% of the population.
Clean water is the other health problem in Malawi. In the cities, there is usually water in the mornings and again in the evenings. During the day and night it is piped in to refill the holding tanks. Out in the bush, where we often visited, women walk for kilometers to the local well and then carry water back on their heads to provide for the days’ needs.


I have solicited my colleagues at St. David’s Medical Center and Partnership Hospitals for used stethoscopes and other small used medical equipment, and intend to do the same within our own St. David’s community. We have a safe and reliable shipping destination through Bishop Tengatenga.
Before I left for Malawi, I told people I thought it would be a “life-changing” trip. I had no idea. Now I know a few of us CAN change lives. You can be one too. May God take your hearts and set them on fire.

Christina Mitchell | Lara Case | Catie Hungerford
Lee Livingston | Vance Tilton | Teresa Turner

Coming Home: the Beginning of a Journey By Teresa Turner
First, I need to tell you that I was completely unprepared for our trip to Malawi. Don’t misunderstand me—I had all my shots, had learned some useful Chichewa phrases, and was ready for hard work. What I wasn’t prepared for was the overwhelming warmth and generosity of our welcome. Almost as soon as we walked into the airport, we were each grabbed and hugged by Alice and Esther, two wonderful churchwomen who accompanied us everywhere we went like guardian angels. Outside the airport a Mother’s Union choir was waiting in front of our minibus to sing and dance in celebration of our arrival. After the official speeches, fourteen St. Agnes’ Guild girls gave us each a rosebud. Then, when we got to St. Paul’s, the same Mother’s Union choir welcomed us all over again. This was not just a first-day extravaganza. This was how we were treated throughout our trip. We visited some very poor parishes, and no matter where we went, women were bending over cook fires to prepare us a feast. In the poorest parish of all, a place where the church has no roof or floor besides the dirt and no one was wearing shoes, we were given gifts. It was sometimes a great challenge to accept so much from those who have so little.


Our host families (the wealthier church leaders) were amazing. In two weeks James and Angela Chimwaza and their children Chisomo, Chimwe, and Chiku, as well as their niece Agnes, made me feel like a blood relative and a member of the community. Our hosts stuffed us with food, threw parties for us, gave us gifts, and were on the tarmac waving as our plane took off. In Malawi, roots grow fast.


One of the people who impressed me most was Father Alinafe (which means “God is with us”). He’s a tall, thin young man with a quick smile, and despite the fact that he accompanied us on all our travels, it took me a while to notice him. His family was very poor, but he was determined to get an education, so he worked hard for food and fees and went to school when he could. He finished primary school at the age of 19. Now he’s an eloquent, sophisticated priest working wonders in his parish. According to Alinafe, what is most needed in Malawi is education. He is teaching his people to communicate about sexual issues, to plan for their futures, and to manage their money so they don’t run out of food. He are his wife are setting an example by having only two children, leaving room for the AIDS orphans who, sadly, are expected in every family. He convinces drinkers to give up some of their beer money to help those less fortunate, and he raises funds to help families feed, clothe, and educate the orphans in their care. He grins when he tells about his parishioners’ response to these efforts, explaining that once people are taught, they catch on quickly.
The great news about Malawi is that we can so easily make a big difference for our brothers and sisters there. For instance, in Chilobwe Parish the addition of a corrugated iron roof for the priest’s house would mean that the congregation would no longer have to pay rent to house its priest and could use that money to help its members. Humble materials such as cloth can be used to help orphans learn to sew, a trade that would pull them up out of the lowest circles of poverty. We can do more than alleviate an immediate need. We can help put in place the infrastructure that will help to break the cycle of poverty, disease, and death. We can provide a few bricks for those who are building the kingdom of God in Malawi.


My journey as a delegate has just begun. I will continue to try to convey my experience in words and pictures, knowing that both will fall short. And of course I will do whatever I can to help Malawians. After all, I’m a cousin of the Chimwazas and a member of Christ the King Anglican Church, Blantyre, Malawi.

Christina Mitchell | Lara Case | Catie Hungerford
Lee Livingston | Vance Tilton | Teresa Turner