A letter from Barbara Nagy on home assignment from Malawi
Greetings from Decatur, Ga., where we think of returning to Malawi every single day. We have almost finished our school programs here and will be spending the summer in North Carolina, visiting many of you before we return to Nkhoma in August. We feel blessed by so many things here in the U.S., a strong church family that has nurtured and encouraged us, many advantages of the Mission Haven community, and the learning that we have acquired through some lo-o-n-g nights of studying. Plus ice cream, watermelon, ruby red grapefruits, and water and electricity that work whenever you want them! The following stories are passed on by our colleagues in Malawi since we have been away.
The financial challenges faced by Nkhoma Hospital continue to cause severe hardships, and yet donations from friends such as many of you have kept the hospital able to offer all of its basic services while we wait for the Malawi government to solve its current financial crisis and resume paying its debts. There is an election scheduled for May 2014, which has already occasioned some violence and a few deaths. We pray that there will be peace and justice in the upcoming contest for president, and that no more violence will occur.
A renewed cancer screening project has evaluated many women for cervical cancer and since October of 2013 has found 120 new cases of cervical cancer (10 percent of all women screened). At the early stage at which most have been diagnosed it is possible for clinic nurses to freeze the abnormal areas and cure what is otherwise an untreatable disease in Malawi with a prolonged and painful death. There is an exceptionally high rate of cervical cancer in women with HIV infections, and it progresses rapidly, but cervical cancer is also a big problem in non-HIV-infected women because there are no Pap smears in Malawi. We hope to start routine screening of all mothers coming back for checkups after their babies have been born and patients from the HIV clinic to capture the highest-risk women in our area. This is a basic screening that many take for granted in the U.S., but it has only been available for women in Malawi for several years, supported in large part by Dr. Sue Makin, another Presbyterian mission co-worker who has just returned as a retired volunteer, to our great joy.
A new Malawian doctor, Dr. Meja, has joined the staff and begun to supervise the maternity ward. They have concentrated on being sure all women in premature labor are getting treated with steroids, which has helped tiny premature babies to breathe much more easily. The new kangaroo nursery and high-risk nursery built with the help of Presbyterian Women have cared for 57 small sick newborns since January of this year. After discharge they are followed up in a special clinic weekly, where mothers receive high-protein food packets, especially if they are breastfeeding twins or triplets, which is common in our area. Many of the mothers of these tiny babies have had extremely complicated pregnancies and were at risk of losing their lives. Some came from far away by bicycle or oxcart. Some had lost many previous pregnancies or young infants and had given up hope of having a living child. To be able to send home a healthy mother and a healthy newborn is a wonderful gift.
We are also blessed that Nicole, a young woman from the Netherlands, has become a long-term volunteer and opened a crisis nursery for children whose mothers have died. Infant formula is extremely expensive in Malawi and sometimes simply unavailable, so the crisis nursery helps babies survive until they are old enough to take solid food. At that point many can go back to their families in the village, where they are loved and able to survive with what families can provide. It is an uphill battle for families who have lost one or both parents, far too frequently the case in Malawi, but the Nkhoma Orphan Project maintains contact with them, helping with school fees, basic food and clothing and often providing seeds and fertilizer so that grandparents can continue to feed children when parents have passed away.
Thank you to all who have supported us in advocacy, prayer and financial gifts, we could not do this work without you! Please continue to support us and the work of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and our partner church, the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian, Nkhoma Synod.
Online donations may be made at http://www.presbyterianmission.org/donate/E074708/
Blessings, joy, and praises to God for His faithfulness!
Barbara Nagy and family for the Nkhoma community
To mail a check:
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
PO Box 643700
Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700
Designate the check either for:
Nagy ministry/family support E074708 (0’s are zeros)
Or Nkhoma Hospital E051772
The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 143
Read more about Barbara Nagy's ministry