When Remco and I started thinking of going to Malawi we had several reasons to go.
I wanted to see and feel the land my aunt is so fond about and see the projects she is doing. Remco was also interested in this and wanted to use his hobby HAM radio to do some charity. Together we thought we had reasons enough to take the adventure and go!
We asked my aunt to search for a project with a few limits.
– It should be ‘touchable’
– It should be a small project
– It should be a project which was really needed for the people in Malawi
– It should have a good and firm governance (no money into black holes!)
So my aunt came up with a project “Crutches Fund for Zomba Central Hospital” .
Frans Zoetmulder, the neighbor of my aunt at Mpalaganga, and his wife Aideen started this project a few years ago. Frans is a (retired) surgeon who operates in the Zomba hospital.
Zomba Central Hospital (ZCH) is the referral center for the South Eastern region of Malawi, with 3.7 million people spread over 5 districts. It is the only center in the region for major general and orthopedic surgery. There’s a department of physiotherapy, and a presence of the Malawi Against Physical disability (MAP) organization.
In past days temporarily or permanently disabled people were supported through MAP and the hospital. In case of leg problems or amputations this ment that cruches were provided. Due to the eradication of polio and therewith the collaps of external support for MAP this service has been stopped. Also the hospital has been unable to help financing crutches. As a consequence patients are completely dependent on their own resources, which are extremely limited. As a consequence patients with broken legs are weight baring too early, jeopardizing the healing of their fractures, and amputated patients often never mobilize again.
The plan is to obtain a stock of 100 pairs of crutches in different sizes. These crutches will be fitted to patients needing them at the MAP/physiotherapy department and given out against a deposit of 1000 MK (Malawian Kwacha, around 4 Euro or 5 U$). When the need is over they should be returned and the deposit is paid back to the patients. Patients who need the crutches permanently will be allowed to keep them. Children with amputated legs will be allowed to return the crutches and exchange them for a proper size as they are growing.
It is estimated that 20% of cases will need permanent crutches. Of the 80% users it is estimated that 20% will not return them…. Another 10% is expected to brake each year. This would mean that after the initial investments in 100 pairs of crutches, the program will need 50 new pairs each year, to assure continuity.
Crutches can be made locally or imported from old stocks in European countries. Zomba Central Prison is situated across the hospital and has a workshop that has been making wooden armpit crutches of reasonable quality in the past. A quotation will have to be asked, but a price of approximately 10.000 MK (around 20 Euro or 25 U$) seems reasonable. It is our target to get the best quality for the lowest price to provide enough crutches for a long time.