Bvumbwe Health Centre is located along the M2 Road in Thyolo district, some 23 kilometres from Blantyre. The first thing one notices once inside the health facility is people sitting or sleeping on the lawn close to the health centre’s main gate. Then one is hit by the sounds of a hospital—crying babies afraid of needles.
Every 1-7 August, the world commemorates World Breastfeeding Week. The theme for this year’s week is “empower parents, enable breastfeeding”. Breastfeeding is a vital part of providing every child with the healthiest start to life.
The empty airfield, while devoid of planes, feels full of life and excitement. The breeze keeps a tattered orange wind sock moving. And in the distance, the sounds of young people playing at a nearby school fills the air, reminding everyone why we're here.
Patson Kadyankoni, 34, dreamed of becoming a reverend when he was a child. As he finished his secondary school, he pivoted towards nursing instead. Now, seated in the consultation room at Mtakataka Health Centre, he is a trusted nurse midwife. Dressed in a neat white nursing suit, he attends to pregnant and new mothers every day, helping keep them healthy and save lives.
It had been raining nonstop for three days and water was rising slowly. First it filled out the yard, then covered the verandah area before seeping into the mud and stick house belonging to Ethel Mwaonga. “I woke up to the sound of people screaming and scrambling to get into boats,” Ethel recalls. “I took my baby and a few clothes and ran into a boat.”
It is mid-morning at Mdeka health center. The hospital yard is full of people. They are women with babies on their backs men helping patients off bicycle taxis and others busking in the morning sun waiting for their turn to be seen by the clinicians.
The sound of a bell rings out to announce that the school day has just finished at Kathebwe Primary School. It’s a hot, sunny day. Children run outside and start to disperse. Some go home to nearby villages, while others start kicking a ball around on the school field. A third group joins their mothers and younger siblings, who are sitting with a hundred or more flood victims in the shade of a large tree. Since the heavy rains and floods of early March, this school has doubled as an evacuation centre.
Beatrice Harold and her newborn daughter have been living in a classroom at their local primary school ever since flood waters swept through southern Malawi three weeks ago
It is mid-morning in Mangumba village in Zomba, Southern Malawi, and Neverson Nazombe’s day is off to a good start. An hour before, he set up a health clinic under a tree and asked mothers from the surrounding houses to join him with their children, under the age of five. About 20 women came.
“I not only communicate key messages, but also ask mothers and fathers to give their views on issues which might need explanation,” said Madzifewe, who works at Nyanthepa Community Radio, which is supported by UNICEF.