In Malawi, Africa, the people in the community of Boyole were dealing with the issue of a high mortality rate for children under 5. This rate has been almost 4.2%, as compared to the rate in the U.S. of 0.6%, according to data from recent years by UNICEF and the World Health Organization. There was no clinic in Boyole, and it’s remote. Municipalities like these can exist many miles away from hospitals in Africa.
Because of this, healthcare is a particular concern in these areas. And this is especially true when it comes to preventable diseases. The community-based organization (CBO) in this remote district recognized this issue as a priority. Then, they mobilized to improve these most serious circumstances.
Remote communities are by definition far from a country’s major infrastructure. And, when a remote community exists in a country with serious infrastructure issues, its people are often left to fend entirely for themselves. This has been the case for Boyole. And the CBO that was created by our program partners in Malawi has worked for years to improve the circumstances of the people there, especially the children.
The process of manifesting a clinic in Boyole was long and complex. And, it serves as a perfect example of community-led development. People who live in extreme poverty can learn they have the power within themselves to solve their own issues. This is especially urgent when it comes to the well-being of children.
The leaders in Boyole established their own community-based organization, called the Tithandizane Organization. And within the structure of this new group they would set and achieve community development goals, and make life better for everyone. The issue of a lack of regular access to healthcare quickly rose to the top of their list of issues to solve.
Identify, Prioritize, and Mobilize
The lack of a healthcare facility in Boyole had simply been a fact of life until the CBO identified this issue as a potentially solvable problem. Young children and new mothers need consistent checkups, vaccinations, and quick response to illness, just like they would receive at any hospital in Africa. In 2018, the organization reached out to the government and gained access to visits from a dedicated healthcare worker. This was a major step forward and a tremendous success for the team. But they knew they could take even more steps forward.
The healthcare worker who visited Boyole lacked a care center where people could go for appointments and emergencies. The worker would set up in homes, churches, or anywhere that was available at the time of a visit. She would also go door-to-door for appointments. This constant change in location led to confusion about where to find her, especially in an emergency situation.
Another serious issue that had yet to be addressed was medicine. There was no controlled environment to keep supplies and equipment, like that which could be found in any hospital in Africa. The healthcare professional kept all medications in her home. This meant inadequate storage practices, which often caused medicines to spoil or lose efficacy.
Participatory Human Development
The group of leaders in Boyole worked together to solve these issues after they were identified. At this point in the Participatory Human Development process they developed a proposal to build a clinic. And since they had prioritized the issue of healthcare for young children and new mothers, they focused on bringing a clinic to Boyole that focused primarily on this issue.
In 2022, the Tithandizane Organization submitted a proposal to Outreach International. They strove to fund the building of a clinic for children under age five, and postpartum women and new mothers. They estimated that in order to be adequate, it had to be large enough to serve approximately 280 children in Boyole. It would also have to serve an additional 1,500 children who lived in neighboring communities.
Their goals were straightforward but crucial to the health and well-being of their most vulnerable citizens:
- A permanent and stationary location to see patients
- A sanitary, safe, and private environment where patients can receive quality care
- On-site latrines to minimize the bacteria and pathogens that are often the cause of preventable disease in remote areas
- A covered waiting area that creates an organized and comfortable environment for people waiting for vital healthcare services
The Dream Comes to Life
Outreach International approved the project, and the Tithandizane Organization mobilized to build the clinic and get it up and running. The parents of the young children and the group members were the ones who got to work and constructed the clinic building themselves.
In October of 2022, the builders completed the foundation.
And as of April 2023, the building stands completed.
The healthcare practitioner who works out of her new clinic is named Mercy.
She now provides consistent and reliable healthcare services to children and new mothers.
A new clinic in Boyole
The Tithandizane Organization is now handing the building over to the government health department so the facility can be maintained into the future. And thanks to the years of hard work, dedication, and brilliant problem solving of the community organization, it’s a future that includes better health and well-being for 1,800 children and their mothers.
How to Help
Projects like this are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the great work our partners do around the world every single day. If you want to be a part of it, find out how you can help.