Facing the pandemic

In the face of the current pandemic, we’re supporting our mission hospital partners in their urgent need to keep staff and patients safe from infection. High on the urgent list is the need for PPE, soap, and improved water supply.

Responding to requests from the hospitals, The Raven Trust – along with Alba Aid, Smileawi, The Bananabox Trust – are providing funds towards the costs of making face-masks locally, and the purchase of soap supplies.

This is being made possible through The Bananabox Trust, whose associates in Malawi have commissioned local tailors to get producing face masks on a large scale, using materials purchased locally.

As at the beginning of August – and only a month after the project was hatched – an amazing 4,000 masks had been made and distributed, and as many bars of soap, at Ekwendeni Hospital and the surrounding villages, with distribution now extending to Livingstonia.

Scenes at Ekwendeni.

Scenes at David Gordon Memorial Hospital, Livingstonia

Face masks are also being made at Embangweni. We intend to sponsor further production for all three locations, and are also considering extending this project to the local production of scrubs for clinical staff.

Also at Embangweni, management have let us know about their wishes to improve the water supply to the hospital. This has been planned for some time, but is now urgent with the need for extra hygiene precautions for all staff, patients and visitors.

Current hand-washing facilities at Embangweni.

Together with John Challis (now officially retired from The Raven Trust!!), who is familiar with the existing supply system, we are looking to see how we can support the development of a reliable scheme, and then contribute funding towards construction, to start as soon as possible.

Response to the global pandemic

We are keeping in close contact with our partners in northern Malawi, and are glad to report that (at the time of posting) they are not experiencing any pressure on their hospitals or communities as a result of Covid-19. The clinical students have returned to their home towns and are working in their clinics, following the temporary closure of their colleges. We understand that, so far, there are not many reported cases of the virus in the country, but a big unknown is to what extent the many people returning from the lockdown in South Africa will effect the infection rates.

As part of the Scotland-Malawi Partnership, we are keeping abreast of events and seeking too understand the needs on the ground in Malawi.

There will be no Focus on Malawi clinical visit from the UK this year, and our joint plans to encourage wider communication and co-operation amongst eye-care practitioners and hospitals in the north have been postponed.

In this holding situation regarding eye work, we are looking to understand how we might be of assistance to our partner hospitals in their immediate needs to deal with the pandemic if it hits their areas. We are discussing with them and other well-wishers now how we could participate in sponsoring the local production of face coverings and scrubs, and to help finance the improvement of clean water supplies.

Thank you for your interest in, prayers for, and support for the Trust and our partners in Malawi. At this time, we want them to know they are not alone in facing this unprecedented challenge.

More supplies start their journey to Malawi

parcels for Malawi eye clinics

We’ve just despatched another 16 parcels for stowing in the next freight container shipment for Malawi. Inside are glasses (carefully measured and labelled by volunteers at our Goggle Works parties or at home), lens meters (focimeters) for measuring glasses at the mission hospital clinics, and trays for indexed storage of glasses. The parcels will be loaded into the next container being sent to Malawi by the Bananabox Trust, expected to leave their base at Dundee in April 2020. Thanks to everyone who has worked on this and to those who have donated funds which pay for the transport!

Next Goggle Works 21 February 2020 in Colchester

Goggle Works graphic

Happy New Year everyone! 2020 is already speeding on, our medical students are busy at college, and we’re looking forward to the next Goggle Works Party. Join us on 21 February 19:30 to help sort and measure donated glasses, check and repair donated equipment, and pack the next delivery to Malawi. And with plenty of refreshments to keep you going. No previous experience necessary! Call 01206 622712 for more info and venue details.