2 weeks ago, we had a 6-monthly VSO Peer Support Workshop. The idea is that volunteers from the same programme get together and share their experiences with the community. Highlights, lowlights, successes, challenges and general lessons learnt from working in Health & HIV/AIDS and life as a volunteer in Malawi.
The 4 day workshop was held at Boadzulu Lodge, near Mangochi, and is by the Lake. It must be said that the beach was very disappointing in my humble opinion. It did not come close to the fine sand and clear water at Cape Maclear which is only 25km up the road and certainly not the general quality of the beaches in the Northern Region – Nkhotakota, Chinteche, Rumphi etc. Coupled with having a jam-packed timetable, I didn’t actually go for a swim at all. Overall, it was still a nice enough spot to achieve the open, relaxed environment we wanted for good discussions.
Unfortunately, there was a sting in the tail on the last night of the workshop. 5 volunteers fell ill. They had a stomach bug which caused vomiting and diarrhoea, which meant a restless night for them. Some of them then had to get back to their distant placement locations and homes on public transport! A few of them were then admitted to clinics. Mainly due to dehydration which comes with severe diarrhoea. The official diagnosis: Gastro enteritis, aka food poisoning! Thankfully, everyone is largely fine now.
A special mention to the initiative to get 6 nursing and midwifery training colleges connected online. There are 6 ODAs (Organisation Development Advisors) based around the country working at these colleges. Their job is to help the colleges improve their systems and processes. Before I came to Malawi, a company called Fon pledged to support Malawi by donating their wifi router equipment. I have already deployed some of this equipment at places which needed them, including the VSO Malawi Country Office and our office at the Ministry of Health. However, due to the low affordability and therefore accessibility of broadband Internet service, it’s actually been difficult to find places which could benefit from the equipment sufficiently. Hopefully, getting these 6 training colleges online, or at least connected internally, will change that.
There are more professional grade photos from Oli on Flickr.
A little private joke for my peers who attended:-
- CHICKEN SNACK???
- 4 months to go…