Dr. Lyn Dowds joined the medical team at David Gordon Memorial Hospital (DGMH) in Livingstonia in August 2011. This was at the invitation of the Livingstonia Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP), our partner church in Malawi.
The Dowds are originally members of Craigavon Presbyterian. Lyn’s work includes undertaking surgery, staff training and administration while Johnny home-schools their two daughters.
DGMH, one of five hospitals run by the CCAP, is a 130 bed mission hospital, situated on top of the Livingstonia plateau in northern Malawi.
Malaria, respiratory diseases and AIDS are the main causes of death in Malawi. HIV/AIDS is a growing problem, with resulting deaths leaving a legacy of up to a million orphans and a reduction in life expectancy to around 35 years. The CCAP's mission hospitals have AIDS education programmes and counselling services; while the medical team is exposed daily to the risk of contracting this blood borne disease.
It is the start of a new year and also the start of the academic year for the girls, as we prepare the clothes and sew on the name labels to yet another part of the uniform. The girls enter their dorms and see many other young girls (in other dorms the boys) preparing their items and saying their farewells to their parents. I see those coming for the first time, whilst others greet each other as friends, exchanging tales and adventures from their summer holidays. How lucky these children are to have parents and resources to encourage their children to get a good education.
My thoughts immediately turn to those in Malawi, Zambia, and other parts of the world who aren’t able to attend school due to many challenges. In a recent survey of our local schools, there was a distinct drop in the proportion of girls attending the later classes of primary and entering into secondary education. The reasons are varied, including family poverty, the need to assist on the farm and at home, lack of sanitary items, early marriage... the list goes on. Poverty lies at the centre of it all and will remain there until many things change.
‘Living Trees of Livingstonia’ is working with the 21 schools in our area to encourage improvements in education, nutrition and facilities to ensure the children in the area get the best opportunities possible.
We have started the new project which will utilise local knowledge and the current wet season to help improve the nutrition of the children. Around 80% of children attending school arrive without eating breakfast. The schools lack many things, including the buildings, furniture and teachers to name a few.
The overcrowded rooms with inexperienced and poorly trained teachers cause even the brightest children to struggle to learn.
Our aim is to tackle poverty in its many forms, to improve the education of the children and build up the community of Livingstonia.
- Pray for the projects being run in the community, that all goes well and that the community will be ready for change.
- Pray for guidance as we work with the community and the schools, and that we will always be sensitive to their needs and traditions.
- Pray for the hospital with shortage of staff and funding issues. Pray for the safety of the workers and patients as we enter the wet season.
- Pray too for a good harvest as rains remain patchy currently.
General Prayer Points
- For good health for the Dowds family.
- For patience and wisdom as the family continues to adjust to Malawian culture and in building relationships for long-term work.
- For Lyn in her work in the hospital, and for daily protection, particularly when working with 'high-risk' patients suffering from HIV/Aids.
- For continued support for DGMH as, under Lyn's leadership, the hospital team is built to improve the health care of local people.
- For Johnny home-schooling their children; and for the girls as they learn.
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