Dorothy Mapira conducted a needs assessment and found that there was no access to close, quality healthcare in Chiondwe. The nearest clinics and hospitals were far, and the means of transportation were challenging for anyone in need of immediate care. Dorothy worked with the community to decide to renovate a 30-year-old, deteriorating, nonfunctional clinic building, to provide services, such as inoculations, first-aid, prenatal care, and pediatric care for children under 5. Much to Dorothy’s surprise, the 28 villages in Chiondwe already had kiln-fired, ready-to-use bricks that they were willing to donate to the project. As a result, one of the first major tasks Dorothy participated in was facilitating the transportation of the building materials.
As they began work on the building, they found that the building was more dilapidated than expected, and 5,500 bricks, 500 more than expected, as indicated in the project budget, were required for the project. Luckily, the community had enough bricks and was able to make up for the underestimation. Dorothy also orchestrated the coordination of a health worker’s presence at the clinic once per month after the construction’s completion. In the initial stages of the project, some community members struggled to monetarily contribute in a timely manner, so Dorothy had to strike a balance between boldness, toughness, patience, and open-mindedness to solve the issues surrounding finances. In addition to Dorothy, the Community Development Committee, Area Development Committee, Project Chairmen, and Health Surveillance Assistant ensured the timely execution of this project. All parties were involved in the construction progress and hosted meetings to discuss expediting and achieving the project’s next steps. The entire Group 4 Malawi CorpsAfrica volunteer cohort provided emotional support to Dorothy throughout this project, which she included in her project report.
Following the renovation’s completion, Mr. Nundwe and Mr. Longwe, two local primary school teachers, offered their calligraphy and drawing skills to create a beautiful building sign. In addition to Mr. Nundwe and Mr. Longwe, other Chiondwe residents expressed that they felt responsibility and emotional connection to this project, as they actively and intently participated in the implementation. Aligning with cultural practices, women continue to contribute by cleaning the facility, and men help by providing security for the building.
This project successfully achieved the goal of reducing the traveling distance to a medical facility and did so by more than 5 kilometers (3.11 mi).
By December 2020, 614 community members had used the Under-five Clinic, and 46% of community members had procured health training, and these numbers continue to rise as more training sessions are held in the clinic.
The community members can now rely on their new clinic, saving time in health emergencies and preventing them altogether through the preventative health care their children receive.