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The 1st family volunteering in Malawi

The 1st family volunteering in Malawi

On the 22nd of August Karolina Siwicka - an orthopaedist - with her husband Piotr and children left for Malawi. She will work as a volunteer for a year in the orthopedic hospital Beit Cure in Blantyre. We are honoured that we can provide patronage to this enterprise and support it.

Karolina  and her family are going to spend a year in Blantyre. Piotr - thanks to his knowledge and logistic experience - will support administration of the hospital. Karolina will use her orthopaedic experience to restore fitness to small patients as well as her long-term university experience in teaching students and passion of transferring knowledge to young physicians - to help to train the future personnel. Simultaneously, she counts on gaining knowledge and practical skills in treating and operating patients with the diseases that are not common in Europe. She wants to infect her children who are currently 6 and 8 years old with the idea of volunteering and show new values to them.

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. Children cover many kilometres on foot and barefoot to reach schools. Even a mild (obvious and early treated in the developed countries)  deformation will cause pain to them whereas pain and deformation will increase in the growing body with covering multi-kilometre distance to school for years. In Malawi education is the only possibility to get out of poverty and despite destitution awareness of this fact is common. The child who cannot reach school on unassisted is subject to exclusion and isolation. A disabled and uneducated child soon becomes unfit to get food on his or her own and support himself or herself. He or she becomes a disgrace and burden to the family and local community. The child's disease is regarded as a curse and he or she is excluded from the society. The child who leaves the community and returns healthy is a miracle and blessing to everybody.

CURE treats children regardless of their social background and beliefs.

The workplace of the Siwicki family will be International Hospital Beit Cure in Blantyre in Malawi that was opened in 2002 due to cooperation of two organizations: BEIT trust and CURE International. The goal of the institution is to guarantee the highest standards of orthopaedic treatment to children from Malawi and neighbouring countries in the South East Africa. Currently, it is the only hospital specializing in orthopaedic surgery of the children in this region. Hospital has 60 beds and treats orthopaedic diseases, including congenital malformations and injuries as well as burns whose extent is enormous and results from using open fire in the houses.

Hospital usually manages long-lasting complications from negligence of those diseases for which local institutions cannot find solutions. Only three specialists from Africa work in hospital, including one on a full-time basis and two of them deal with patients from neighbouring state hospitals at the same time. The remaining personnel includes physicians and therapists from abroad, mostly volunteers, with rotation on long-term or short-term internships. Their duties include diagnosing the patients (about 8000 patients per year), operating and post-operative management (over 1300 procedures per year).

Since hospital cooperates closely with adjoining Medical School and University Hospital physicians also teach the local staff, train medical students, teach new orthopedists and orthopedic technicians and physiotherapists  as well as teach paramedical professions. One of the most important tasks of the specialists is managing of the so-called long-distance clinics, i.e. mobile clinics - multi-day expeditions across Malawi to find children who need corrective procedures in the region as well as reach those who have been operated on and who cannot be brought for continuation of the therapy. Many families wander from Malawi's neighbouring  countries to find rescue for their children in CURE. Hospital provides free treatment for children and maintenance of the institution lies mainly on the side of donors.