MMM Communications, Rosemount, Booterstown, Co. Dublin, IRELAND.
Mission Development 4425 W 63rd St., Ste 100 Chicago, IL 60629-5530
The first MMM Sisters arrived in Malawi in 1962 and for several decades developed St. John's Hospital in the town of Mzuzu with its well-known Nurse Training Programme.
This extended later to the Health Centre at Nkhata Bay. Malawi is called 'The Warm Heart of Africa', and Nkhata Bay lies on the shore of the beautiful fresh water Lake Malawi which stretches more than 560 km.
Today, our work in Malawi is mainly focussed on community-based health care. However, the terrible famine that threatened the lives of millions of people in 2002 disrupted that for a long time, and inevitably drew us more deeply into the area of nutrition.
Happily, we were able to play our part in preventing many deaths during that time and during later periods of drought. With the help of hundreds of donors and working closely with other NGOs on the ground in Malawi, we were involved in distributing seed, fertilizer, and tools, which resulted in good harvests.
The feeding centres that we ran throughout 2002 were all finally closed in May 2003, allowing us to concentrate once again on our core work.
This is done at Chipini, a rural Health Centre in the south of Malawi, near the city of Zomba. From there we have an outreach programme to the surrounding seventy-six villages.
Our latest mission in Malawi is at Kasina, about one hour's drive south of Lilongwe, where we run a Health Centre and outreach programme.
Sister Clara Chikwana is based in Lilongwe. She is the first Malawian woman to become a professed Sister with MMM. Other MMMs assigned to Malawi include some from Nigeria and Ireland and one from Zimbabwe.
In townships like Mziritsa on the periphery of Lilongwe, we support the work of Women in Development, income-generation projects and community-based health care.
The country suffered a crushing brain drain of medical and nursing staff, which it is working hard to reverse. Although MMM has trained more than 1,000 nurses since we went to Malawi in 1962, it is extremely difficult to recruit trained staff there today. Those who return from overseas are attracted to the bigger centres, leaving the poorly-resourced rural areas without sufficient personnel.