Today marks one year since the Kentown Wizard Foundation last visited Malawi.
On April 3rd 2019 our CEO Margaret Ingram set out to witness first hand the progress of the “Cleft Free Malawi” project. The five year project, undertaken in collaboration with Operation Smile, remains an ambitious one:
- To eradicate the backlog of cleft patients in Malawi
- To provide the training and support to Malawian health care professionals in order to build a sustainable and self-perpetuating ability to provide cleft care in the country.
It is safe to say that this country holds a piece of our hearts here at the Kentown Wizard Foundation, which is why the question was never IF we would return but WHEN. A question simply answered last month when Margaret began her journey back to Malawi. Below is an account of Margaret’s visit in her own words.
I set off from the UK keen to build on the knowledge and understanding I gained during last year’s visit and to see for myself the progress of the Cleft Free Malawi Project.
The timing of my visit enabled me to join the Operation Smile team on a post-operative and pre-screening road trip across Malawi. Over the course of five days the team visited four hospitals in different parts of the country. At each hospital patients arrived either to have a post-operative check up or to be screened in anticipation of the next medical mission.
I travelled with the team on the Op Smile bus (which was great fun but not exactly comfortable!) on roads which were interesting to say the least. The road which runs from North to South in Malawi is the M1 but it bears no resemblance to our M1. One of the team summed it up when he said “In the UK you drive on the left of the road but in Malawi you drive on what is left of the road!”
The success of this ambitious project relies on the Operation Smile army of volunteers whose selfless dedication continues to leave me humbled and inspired. Last year I witnessed their hard work and commitment during a medical mission, this year I witnessed all of the hard work which is needed before and after these missions. I have nothing but admiration for these people and as I leave Malawi, I am more certain than ever that Cleft Free Malawi will be achieved.
I learned a great deal on this trip and on a personal level it was an amazing experience despite the discomfort. The country is beautiful and the Malawian people are simply wonderful – so friendly and welcoming everywhere we went.
Malawi is known as “the warm heart of Africa” and I understand why.