Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Visit to Thoza

18 July Friday

Katherine and I went with the mobile clinic today to Thoza—about 9 km away. Eileen stayed behind to take some more photographs at the hospital. I took a few photos in Thoza and then had lunch with Mary and Lupenga Mphande. He is a professor of African studies at Ohio State. Small world.

Been thinking a lot about what I hope to get across in the pieces I produce when I get back home. What are the most important points? Which the most important assumptions to puncture?

Keeping coming back to the idea of how easy it is as an American to assume that there is nothing here; how easily my own focus is drawn to what is missing from Embangweni as opposed to what is here. (Although given my experience at Kamuzu Central, must admit that I checked for soap when I first arrived at Embangweni and was happy to see it everywhere.)

Points I want to keep in mind: There are structures in place. People here know what's missing but typically don't get asked for their input. There are no quick fixes. Solutions have to be integrated. Relationships matter. You have to show you care (both for patients and staff).

Along those lines, you don't just plop a family planning program into a community without also providing for the basic health needs of that community. Otherwise, what is the message you're trying to get across? We're afraid you're going to have too many children?

(NB: This post was written on site in rural northern Malawi and posted now that I again have internet access.)

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