We are so happy to report that every bag of supplies made it to Malawi. All of our fragile equipment, like anesthesia machines, a cauterizing machine, and several fluid suction machines arrived without a scratch on them, and in a timely manner. One of our biggest concerns was losing any of the 38 pieces of checked luggage, or having some confiscated. However, it was more likely we would lose anything shipped by mail than brought with us over the five flights it took to reach Malawi from the United States.
It took a handful of volunteers nearly a full weeks’ worth of full-time days to inventory and pack each suitcase for TSA guidelines. Every suitcase had to be no more than 50lbs, and every item listed, described, and counted. Many of the machines weighed in just over 50lbs alone, and each one had to be registered ahead of time with the appropriate authorities. Other suitcases we were able to jam full of medications, disinfecting materials, bandages, suture, surgery tools, patient gowns, syringes, catheters, extension cords, patient forms, and even a few small gifts for the children. A toy, coloring book and crayons, or sticker goes a long way in an area where there are none.
Malawi is lush with greenery, and is hot and humid with a cool breeze. For a moment, and probably from being delirious from the 25 hour plane ride, I thought we were on a tropical vacation and I was about to get into a pool at some resort. Instead, we crammed into a bus headed to the ABC Community Clinic, unloaded our 38 bags, toured the sleeping quarters and hospital facilities, unpacked, and set up the operating room, PACU and clinic. From here on out it will be non-stop!
Patients have been coming from all over Malawi to be seen by Dr. Gosman and the team of 16 multidisciplinary specialists. The first patients arrived a week ago, and many more will be bussed in over the next week. So far we are expected to see 100-150 patients in the short time we are here, and wake-up call is bright and early at 5:30am. We work our labor of love all day, then a quick dinner, team huddle, and shower, and off to bed underneath a mosquito net canopy… Good night Malawi. Rest up… there are many children we must help tomorrow!