On Sunday 7th May 2017, a small Bristol based Malawian community will be running the Great Bristol 10k run http://www.greatrun.org/great-bristol-10k to raise funds for hospitals in Malawi through the Malawi Health Care Support (MAHECAS) UK charity.
MAHECAS key focus is to aid healthcare delivery in hospitals, surgeries and other primary health care locations across Malawi, primarily through the provision of medical equipment and support. The charity which has been active for over 20 years now, has raised over £500,000 so far. These funds have gone towards many healthcare initiatives in Malawi including building a new dental surgery at Queen Elizabeth hospital in Blantyre and provision of medical equipment at Ntchisi Hospital, Lilongwe Central Hospital and Chitipa Hospital.
The group aims to raise a minimum of £1000. One of the group organisers, Sandra Jumbe reveals the genesis of the idea. ‘Well, my friend actually forced me’ she says laughing then continues ‘On a serious note, the run is Miriam Mabaso’s idea. She proposed it on our WhatsApp group and many of us quickly got behind it.
I think it’s because we have all been personally affected by the issue of limited health services in Malawi. I for one have lost two close relatives in Malawi recently due to lack of cancer treatment and pain medication. I also have an uncle who is currently suffering from an endocrine disorder. There don’t seem to be any specialist doctors able to manage his condition appropriately. As someone who works in the health sector, it is heart breaking. One cannot help but wonder if their loved ones would still be alive if circumstances were different.
Aside from these personal experiences of loss that many Malawians share, running to raise money is a way of appreciating the good health we currently have. As a health psychologist, I am very aware of how changeable health status is, and how ill health can impact one’s psyche but also how when we are in ‘good health’ we at times take it for granted. So whilst able to, I think it’s important to run on behalf of those unable to, whilst hopefully supporting the health needs of others financially.
Finally, there really aren’t many Malawians in Bristol, let alone Africans. So because we are very far and between, we make an effort to keep together as a family. I guess in a way, it helps us feel connected to home as a tiny diaspora community. Unfortunately life gets in the way and we don’t meet often. But when we do we go all out and really celebrate our identity by reminiscing about our beautiful country and current issues as we hear them.
Last but not least, the group are eager to support a great charity, which has shown transparency in its efforts to support the healthcare system in Malawi by pulling together the Malawian diaspora community in the UK. So please feel free to dig deep into your pockets and support a great cause by sponsoring this group through this link: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/Malawiansinbristol