20 January 2008

October 2007 visit to Ekwendeni and Livingstonia

This year, the team was able start work in Ekwendeni's, as yet unused, purpose-built, eye-clinic rooms. Before opening for business, and while setting up the equipment that had arrived during the year (or had been stuffed in our baggage), there was a good opportunity to give some training to a clinical officer and two nurses keen to be involved with ophthalmic work.

Halfway through our visit, we travelled north to Livingstonia, which has a small hospital, but no eye care. Here we set up a day-long, ad-hoc clinic, seeing 85 people.

Again, we were able to involve and train some local staff interested in ophthalmology. We also discussed with the hospital director the feasibility of establishing some sort of eye service at Livingstonia.

Back in Ekwendeni, it was two more days of clinics before having to head for home. We were pleased that the guys who worked with us during our stay there were, by the time we left, able to do basic eye tests and dispense glasses from the second-hand stock. This was the primary objective when all this started – to have a self-sustaining eye clinic in Ekwendeni!

While in Ekwendeni, we also made a much-anticipated return visit to the Ekwendeni Blind School. Here, with limited resources, staff are doing an amazing job. They care for and nurture a bunch of children whose lives, if it weren't for the school, would be wretched. We tested the new intake of children, diagnosing eye conditions, finding glasses for some, and low vision aids for others.

Now some thanks: to all of you who supported financially, your contributions have gone directly to the work in Malawi, via the Raven Trust; to donors of glasses and those in hospitals who organise glasses collections; to Williams Optometrists for the supply of equipment and instruments.