Soon, Karolina Siwicka and her husband Piotr as well as their children are returning to Poland after a year of voluntary work in Malawi. They are already getting ready for the return; meanwhile, they send coverage on the last days of work:
Our stay in Malawi is coming to an end with just a few weeks to go. The thought of packing our African home is a hard one to us. Recently, we had to say goodbye to Arletta; after only five weeks of work at the local hospital she was sorry to leave Malawi. And what should we say, after a whole year… But there is not much time for thinking; we keep working until the last moments before the departure, and at weekends off work we travel around to say goodbye to the Malawian charms.
Even though nominally it is winter, it is the holiday time and thus a lot of people are on leave. So we slowed down a bit with the operation work, and this enabled us to invite to the hospital several dozen patients who had been previously treated for much neglected club feet. Quite commonly, children who have been operated and are scheduled for follow-up visits fail to show up and miss the final procedures, rehabilitation as well as other necessary surgeries and consultations. Often, when the child suffers from recurrence of deformity, the parents think that nothing can be done with it any more, that it must be so, and they do not bring the children to follow-up appointments. Lack of contact after the first stage of treatment results in failure to detect a tiny issue in time, e.g. worn-out and damaged orthoses, which then grows into a huge problem, like the need for an operation. Owing to the check-ups, it was possible to identify several cases of children whom we managed to provide with new orthoses in time before the recurrence becomes permanent. Sadly, some of them had to go home holding an invitation to an operation. But this still gives hope for an improvement. Those whose parents did not made the decision to continue the treatment have at least a chance to obtain shoes adapted to their deformations that will reduce the pain and somewhat conceal the deformation. The majority of children, however, are doing well and are happy with their ‘new’ feet. We share in their joy.