Well this is our last morning in Malawi. Jane and i separated company last Sunday. Jane headed north to Msuzu while I headed south to Zomba. I arrived in Zomba on Sunday evening to find my accommodation was near the top of a mountain overlooking the Zomba plateau. Unfortunately, as this is the rainy season, for the majority of the time I was in the clouds. However, on the rare clear moment the view was stunning across the plains. Lake Chiwa was full and vast, however, I’m told that by June – August it will have shrunk considerably, possibly even dried up completely, which is incredible given its size at the moment.
Zomba is a stunning area in Malawi. Extremely green with plentiful vegetation. It is much wetter and quite a bit cooler than Lilongwe, although still way warmer than Aberdeen. The mosquitoes were out in force though.
The two and a half day programme teaching Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (EmONC) skills to the qualified Community Midwife Assistants (CMA) was yet another success. Our Malawian colleagues Andy, Mary, Dora, Ruth, Bertha, Susan and Sally (who had been at the training in Lilongwe last week) were all superb delivering the programme. It was a great pleasure to work along with them this time.
We had 25 CMA’s at our session. Initially they were quiet but as the days progressed they should all the enthusiasm and energy we have experienced of the Malawian people when they participate in training sessions. The CMA’s had come from all around the Southern region for their first CPD update since qualifying 18 months ago or so. Feedback from them was positive wanting more and regular updates and refreshers which was wonderful to hear. A suggestion from one of the CMA’s was to come back to Scotland to see how midwifery is practiced in our communities.
There were a couple of surprises during the programme though. On our first day it became apparent that five of the CMA’s had brought their babies with them along with a nanny to look after them while they were in the training. Speaking with the mother’s I discovered that one baby was only a month old and she had traveled some distance to attend the training, another mum had a 7 month old. Of course they had to bring their babies with them as they were still breastfeeding.
The second surprise was the monkeys. I had not expected to see nature so close. At the hotel on the mountain were the big monkeys. There was no shyness about them, they shared (or perhaps owned) the hotel with the guests. While they ran the grounds and over the roof freely they also new how to open doors and frequently attempted to do so, especially the dining room doors. As we left the hotel for the last time yesterday morning a troop of 20-30 monkeys were there to see us drive off.
Down in Zomba itself at the training centre there were smaller black flat faced monkeys who often entertained us as we finished in the afternoon. Indeed one young mum suckling her baby as if demonstrating her mothering skills for our programme.
Well its time to pack and start heading home this morning. I’ll see you all in a couple of days time.