April 14, 2020
Dear Supporters of Orant Charities,
Since March, Orant Charities has been preparing for the arrival of Covid-19 in Malawi. Malawi President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika confirmed the country’s first cases of coronavirus in April. Since there have been two deaths and 16 total cases. On April 15, President Mutharika announced that the country risks losing 50,000 lives if it does not respond quickly to slow the spread. He announced a 21-day lockdown for the entire country.
80% of Malawi’s population lives and farms in remote rural areas, including those who Orant Charities serves. Clinicians at Orant’s Kasese Health Center are working hard to prepare the rural community to fight the virus. Preparations are split into a few categories:
- Medical/Technical Knowledge
- OCA Campus Prep
- Area-wide Sanitation
- Medical/Technical Knowledge
The District Health Office held a two-day workshop to train Orant Charities Africa (OCA) staff about the virus and preventative measures.
Orant Charities plans to supplement this knowledge by putting clinicians in direct contact with board member Dr. John Dallas to discuss any updates on correct medical procedures.
Orant Charities will also reach out to the NGO/medical community to seek further information, training, and procedures to learn from.
Thankfully, due to a donor’s foresight and kindness, OCA is not scrambling for medical supplies. Kasese Health Center is stocked with facemasks, gloves, surgical gowns, an antiviral medicine, cleaning supplies, IVs, sleeping pads, and more.
Despite best efforts, the health center still needs to procure face shields, thermometers, full-body gowns (PPEs), and AAA batteries. Currently, the US team is sending thermometers and batteries to Malawi and working on procuring the other items.
- Orant Charities Africa Campus Preparations
Campus prep began in mid-March. OCA installed a handwashing station at the entrance to the campus. Anyone who enters and exits campus is instructed to wash their hands. Orant Charities also supplied much of the staff with small bottles of hand sanitizer.
In addition, preparations are being made for a coronavirus temporary isolation clinic. OCA staff repurposed a chicken coop behind campus with a concrete floor, new windows, and gutters. Soon, staff will pipe a temporary tap to this isolation clinic. This tap will provide the clinic with clean water.
The next step is to put in place measures to check campus visitors for coronavirus. As tests are not yet available, Orant Charities will rely on Dr. John Dallas, advice from the workshop, and other experts to determine a plan. By next week, clinicians will have new processes in place to improve the chances of prevention, detection, and treatment.
- Surrounding Area Sanitation
Since mid-March, OCA has been spreading the word about coronavirus to everyone from farmers to chiefs. Now, OCA is working with local chiefs to put a 55-gallon drum chlorine handwashing station at Kasese Trading Post. OCA staff and chiefs will encourage the public to wash their hands thoroughly and regularly. This same model will be copied in at least five of the nearest trading posts.
In addition, OCA will supply a bucket, sanitation instructions, and cleaning chemicals to 50 chiefs around the area. After chiefs, OCA will distribute materials to churches and community centers, starting with local Madisi Catholic Parish. Charles Chawinga, OCA Water Programs Manager, will work with government Health Surveillance Assistants to contact schools that have extra buckets and chlorine. They will instruct these schools to distribute extra buckets to nearby villages for local handwashing.
We understand that the prevention of the spread of the virus only happens through individuals doing their part. We all have a lot of work to do, but it is by no means insurmountable. We are doing our best to serve those that will be most affected during these times.
It is important to keep our spirits up. Let others know how important they are to you, be gracious and kind to those you meet, and pray.
Orant Charities sends you all hope and love wherever you may be.
If you feel inclined to donate to our efforts, please use the “Donate” button on our website and add a note that your donation is for our Covid-19 relief fund: Orantcharities.org