The start of this year saw the Mangochi Infant Home reaching double figures. It’s been a journey full of successes and challenges. We would like to sincerely thank all the staff for their hard work and commitment to the care of the vulnerable children that we have served in and around Mangochi.
The home has seen 238 vulnerable babies referred by the Department of Social Welfare. Children like Jaffu (read his story here) have had their lives transformed by that care they received at our Mangochi Infant home. This early years help will continue to benefit him well into the future.
A growing family
Over the years the number of staff has risen to 40: including 19 care givers, as well as laundry staff, kitchen staff, an electrician, grounds man, drivers, guards, hospital carers, supervisors, a teacher, a matron, a manager and two staff at the Open Arms cottage. It has become a large operation!
As with many parts of Malawi, Mangochi experiences persistent power outages. They see two or more days in a week without electricity to drive the washing machines and cooking. This has to be managed carefully to make sure that care for the children is not affected.
Thankfully, after the first generator wore out, the power shortages have been eased by the acquisition of a 13 KW diesel powered generator.
2012 saw a water purification system built by Engineers Without Borders so the home got accesses to purified water. This is essential for the care and health of such tiny babies. It's impact was seen immediately by a big reduction in diarrheal diseases.
There were times when our washing machines were broken and it took a lot of effort to wash laundry by hand, but again thanks to our generous supporter we have working washing machines.
Cookers are another piece of essential kit in the home and these would often break too, or gas and electricity were in short supply. We would sometimes have to rely on cooking on an open fire. Thankfully these issues are now sorted and the home has also moved from using firewood to electric stoves and gas when preparing meals for the babies.
Developing the health and wellbeing of children in Mangochi
The Mangochi District Hospital often lacks the medical staff, medicine and equipment needed to support the local population. When there were outbreaks like measles, these services were even more strained. Mangochi also has a high incidence of malaria, so we learned how to treat the walls to reduce mosquitos in the home, and how to use nets carefully. There was training on the use of instant malaria test kits and these were used to catch incidences early in our children.
Our Mangochi home now benefits from two vehicles, which has eased our work; previously it was difficult to plan for activities like outreach as the same vehicle would also be needed to perform other unplanned tasks like taking children to the hospital.
Out in the community
We are committed to returning healthy children to their families and communities and have a well-organised follow up care programme for all the children that have returned home. Tuesdays and Fridays are designated for outreach visits, where we monitor health of the children back in their community. Those living with HIV/AIDS and are on medication are encouraged to take their medicines. Using our medical kit we treat sick children, if they cannot travel to the governmental hospital due to distance or poverty. During this time children that are in need of clothes are given a new set of clothes, in addition to nutritional support with fortified flour for a hot meal.
Through our outreach programs, sites for potential nursery schools are identified and recommendation given to the team. Currently, Open Arms Mangochi has five nursery schools; 4 working nursery schools and 1 just completed. Many of the village in and around Mangochi are extremely difficult to get to, do not have adequate resources and are a long way from roads. These projects are often completed by international volunteers who work alongside local builders supporting physically and financially with the build to benefit the local community.
Over the last ten years, Mangochi has also seen volunteers support with building nine houses for guardians looking after Open Arms children, the Matrons house, an administrators house, a playground and training delivered by UNICEF.
A second infant home was the vision of Neville Bevis, previous director of Open Arms Infant Homes and together with DePuy / Johnson & Johnson, who provided the funding, the Mangochi home was made possible. A tremendous amount of planning, negotiating, hard work and dedication went into setting up not only the home but everything that supports it.
A lot has happened over the last ten years and thanks to your ongoing support we’re pleased that Mangochi is a vital support system for the Social Welfare Department in the district.
We look forward to planning out the next ten years as we look to grow and develop our community support so that we can continue to help as many children and their families as possible.