Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions embarked on their fifth service trip to Malawi, Africa. There were 38 faculty, staff, and students from RMUoHP and 22 other volunteers who traveled 22,000 miles by air and 1,500 miles by land to get to their destination. They took with them approximately 6,000 pounds of educational supplies, athletic equipment, clothes, blankets and quilts, and hygiene kits from Days for Girls to donate to schools, orphanages, and hospitals.
The goals of the trip are to continually expand and improve the Selengo Primary School, give aid to the local orphanages, provide desperately needed supplies and resources to the villagers, to teach at the Malawi College of Health Sciences, and to provide the Kamazu Central Hospital and Child Legacy International with clinical work from students and faculty. Previous trips to Malawi have helped RMUoHP build long-lasting relationships with chiefs, villagers, children, and the patients and staff at the Kamasu Hospital, which allows for a lot of work to get done within a short amount of time.
During their time in Malawi, students, faculty, and staff from RMUoHP built and restored classrooms, gave villagers access to running water, taught young girls and women about hygiene, visited orphanages, and donated items to the locals. RMUoHP President Richard P. Nielsen provided a quick synopsis of their success, “We moved over 5,000 blocks weighing a total of 200,000 pounds (100 tons) and dug trenches. We helped 225 girls and 30 women learn about hygiene. We painted walls and chalkboards in classrooms. We drilled a borehole for the villagers to get fresh water versus having the women in the village walk several miles each way twice a day to fetch water that needs to be boiled before using it. We made 286 lunches for the project workers. We saw dozens of patients at Kamuzu Hospital where we helped deliver several babies and helped end-stage people leave this life. We delivered 6,000 pounds of clothing, shoes, books, athletic equipment, and hygiene kits to several hundred orphans.”
Greer Simpson, a student in our Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology (MS SLP) program, stated, “[At the hospital] we had the opportunity to assess children and adults with speech, language, and cognitive delays and deficits. We were able to give recommendations to clients and their family members, present information, and collaborate with other medical professionals.” Commenting on her own takeaways from the trip, Simpson added, “Our time spent at the hospital with these patients is something I will hold onto forever. The speech-language pathology field does not exist in Africa as of right now, so this opportunity to assess, give recommendations, and educate other medical professionals goes much, much further than one might think.”
During the closing meeting in Malawi, President Nielsen commented that even though there were so many things that they could physically and numerically account for, what they could never account for was the human touch aspect of the trip and the feeling that they left behind with the people of Malawi. RMUoHP was thrilled to have had the opportunity to go back to Malawi and is already beginning preparations for the next trip in 2020!
Author Talia Blatter