Hello and happy New Year,
It seems that time, as the song says, “keeps on ticking” but faster and faster. I can’t believe that it is 2013 already. Our family arrived in Malawi a little over three years ago but it seems like yesterday. Now, as I write this, we only have 18 weeks until we head stateside for what we hope is a 1-2 year furlough.
2012 was a crazy year full of ups and downs and twists and turns. For E3 we started 2012 coming off a good year in 2011 that saw the opening of the primary school in Gusu/Jidi. What an exciting time that was for the community. For 2012 we set our sights squarely on infrastructure development focused primarily on getting running water at the school and the E3 site. For this to happen many things had to come together including purchasing of more property that had good water access, digging a borehole, installing a solar electric system, constructing a building to house the electrical equipment, building a water tower, digging irrigation and water trenches, and installing all the pipes.
Most everything went well considering the remoteness of the location and the logistic issues inherent with working in Malawi. Thanks to several church’s and individuals, funding came through in a good way and thanks to those same people the items needed were shipped here in good shape.
However, there were a few setbacks the biggest of which was a doozy; the water tower holding two 5000 liter water tanks collapsed. Now I know that I have been here a while because when I got the text at 11pm that the tower had fell the only thing I said to Becky was, “That’s not good”. I then rolled over in bed and fell asleep. At home in the states I would have had a fit and a large one at that. It seems that Malawi has had a good effect on me. After all was said and done the tower was rebuilt and running water restored.
Late in the year the solar panels were installed and batteries hooked up. The temporary water pump was removed and replaced with the new d.c. powered pump. For the last two months there has been running water on the site 24/7 and the village loves it. Where we have installed public access there are people drawing water, drinking, and washing their hands all the time.
Another setback has been the electrical system. We ordered the wrong size inverter and need another four batteries. Those have been sourced in South Africa and should be here the middle of February. Until they arrive we have been using a small home inverter but it isn’t good for the batteries.
Besides the installation of basic infrastructure the other E3 programs are running real well. The final mobile clinic of the year was held on December 23 where we saw another 770 people; and that was on just one day. The medical people were hopping. It seems that the last few years of mobile clinics has really been helping the community as severe malaria cases are down because of early detection, ring worm is down because of access to medication, and some of the more chronic individual cases are stable because medication is being sent out.
This last mobile clinic was a Godsend for one particular little girl. She has AIDS and is suffering from boils. We were able to triage her and then get her to the ABC clinic. Once at the clinic she was referred to Baylor hospital that specializes in pediatric AIDS care. She will be seen there on a regular basis. We will need to pay her bills and transportation but it is well worth it.
Here is her story from Sam Kawale;
E-3 Worldwide conducted its last mobile clinic for the year on December 21, 2012. 770 people were seen at this mobile Clinic.
One of the people who came to this clinic was Mwaiwawo Freza. Mwaiwawo literary means “Their luck”. Mwai, in short, is a 10 year old girl and she is an orphan. Her father died in 2011 and mother died in 2007. Her father was a polygamist, and she has 4 siblings from the father’s second wife, and she is the only child from her mother. Currently, she is staying with her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Dickson.
The Dickson family is a typical Malawian family, surviving on small scale farming, growing maize on 4 acres of land. With no extra source of income, they find it hard to purchase the much needed fertilizer to have enough yield to last all year round. On average, they harvest enough food to last 7 months of the year. To make the food last all year round, they have resorted to eating once a day; rarely twice a day.
Mwai came to our mobile clinic to get treatment for rashes she had all over her body. After being seeing by Dr. Diane Young, she suspected that she might be infected with HIV. She recommended that she be evacuated to ABC Clinic for further tests.
On January 7, 2013, Mwai came to ABC clinic. After much tests, she was referred to Baylor children’s hospital for specialized medication and counseling. Baylor and ABC Clinic gave her medication for her immune system, as well as rashes.
When we went to see her on January 22, 2013, it was very encouraging to see that the rashes were drying up very well. The medication was working. However, another problem had developed. A big lump had come out at the back of her left shoulder, which was causing her sleepless nights.
She came back to ABC Clinic and Baylor Children’s clinic on January 27 for more tests. Sadly, the lump is cancerous and treatment is being discussed.
It’s next to impossible to put a cost on a life. It takes almost $1000 to host a mobile clinic and that is a steep cost. We have to buy drugs, hire medical personnel, pay for transportation and then evacuate any serious cases and that includes transport, hospital stay and care, plus medication. But how can we say no? Well, we can’t but with help from generous folks back home we are able to make a positive impact on the community and help save many lives.
For 2013 we are planning on hosting 8 mobile clinics and sports outreach tournaments. We are looking for teams to come to Malawi to help out with these events and we are looking for sponsors to help pay the cost of hosting the clinic.
Some more highlights of 2012 include several sports outreach tournaments, handing out hundreds of Bibles, donating mosquito nets to those that didn’t have any, painting the primary school, graduating two primary school classes and adding two more for a total of four classes at the school, getting four new teachers, graduating six permaculture students, hiring Dennis Banda for agriculture and Sandram Phiri as project coordinator and discipleship director, construction of a new composting toilet, planting a lot of trees to combat deforestation, etc. This was a good year.
So here we are at the start of 2013 but we aren’t letting off on the gas. A couple of friends from Alabama came and helped construct the new aquaponics system. The system will be able to grow around 1000 tilapia which will help with income and food security. Over time we want to construct many more systems in the area and develop a local co-op for sales and income for the community.
Other projects include construction of a bio digester to show how to use waste as an energy source. This will combat deforestation and health issues because of smoke inhalation. We will construct a demonstration piggery that will show how to raise pigs in a low cost, healthy setting. Depending on funds, we hope to start construction of the secondary school blocks.
Here is an interesting fact you may not know. In our catchment area, 600 kids graduate from primary school and are eligible for enrolment in a secondary school. However, there are only 100 seats available for new enrollees. We find this unacceptable. So, to help address this issue, we want to construct two more classroom blocks that will be dedicated to secondary school students. We will also need to source the school learning materials, desks, and other items. But, with education the first word in E3, this simply has to be done. Thankfully, our home church AC3 included E3 in their year-end project and raised a couple thousand dollars and Warm Beach Community Church has donated some money so we are off to a good start accumulating funds to construct the school.
Finally, for 2013, the adult literacy programs, individual and group Bible studies, church leadership training, more permaculture education, sports camps, business training, and other educational opportunities will be implemented. Needless to say E3 is looking at a very busy year. Sam, Malla, Jay, Kondie, Sandram, Dennis, and our ever present volunteers will need you to keep them in your prayers as they work very hard and spend countless hours working in the community.
For the Epperson’s, this is the year we head back to the states. Becky will spend 2013 and part of 2014 finishing her Nurse Practitioner degree. The kids are looking forward to attending school and making new friends. Iris will finally be able to retire permanently. I am hoping to continue working on E3 development.
This is one of those personally trying times. I know we must leave but don’t want to. It seems like momentum has just begun to gain traction and leaving now is very hard. I love what I do here and love Malawi. However, staying isn’t meant to be. My fervent prayer is that we are allowed to come back.
We are also stumbling to the finish line financially. Our two biggest expenses will be getting the whole family plane tickets and purchasing a couple of cars when we get home. So, we are asking for help. Please consider us for a special one-time donation to help us finish strong and help us get home and back on our feet. You can now donate directly to E3 though our website at http://e3worldwide.org/.
As I reflect on the last 4 years with moving to Malawi, setting up a new house, moving several times, our work in Gusu, Becky directing the ABC clinic, Iris teaching at the academy, adopting Chisomo, numerous failures and victories, clinics, schools, civic education, water, electricity, and so many lives being touched I am deeply humbled in the knowledge that without our friends and supporters back home that these things would not be possible.
I know Christ is the creator and enabler in all things including us and E3, BUT you are His hands and feet. He uses YOU the prayer warrior and financial supporter to supply the spiritual and physical horsepower to see us and E3 through. Please, never forget this. I have been witness of and part of too many things during my time in Malawi to come to any other conclusion.
The words of Dr. Martin Luther King are deeply profound, “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard or superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.” By partnering with us and E3 you have helped change the edifice in Gusu and the local community. Attitudes are changing. Perspectives are changing. Lives are changing. This is a challenge that can be met and overcome but we must see it through. We can’t let up on the gas now. We must face this edifice in the eye and not blink nor take the easy road with superficial deeds and haphazard planning.
We are heading home but the work here doesn’t end; it only gets busier. When you pray and when you contemplate donating some of your hard earned funds please consider E3 as it works to change the edifice and puts a community on a path to donor free sustainability though well thought out, Christ centered development.
E3, making a difference one life at a time.
With much love,
The Epperson’s and the E3 team