Timonene (hello...in Chitonga!:)

Back in the saddle this past weekend! Having missed the previous week’s swim due a head cold, this week’s swim was a two’fer, both Saturday and Sunday. Funny how you can become accustomed to process and regularity; having only missed one week, it felt like I hadn’t been in the water in ages!

Both days were pretty chilly: 34 and 25 degree wind chills Saturday, and 24 / 11 degree wind chills on Sunday. However, each day had light winds and abundant sunshine, making for some enjoyable cannonballs off the dock. Frozen hair Sunday? You bet.

Part of my focus in this week’s report, goes against the very notion of focus and how a wandering mind can often lead to innovative thought. For me, running is an opportunity to allow my mind to wander, without life’s constant distractions. Whether you choose to run with music, other people or on your own, running is all about…you: a time of reflection. Come to think of it, that pairs nicely with Reflections for RIPPLE!

Allowing your mind to wander is almost an archaic action these days. Who has time to wander? Between multitasking, super-computer cell phones, tablets, and media an ever-growing constant, there simply isn’t time.

Even Tim Brown, Mr IDEO himself makes light of the value of this trait, namely through keeping a journal close-by at all times. Writing stuff down? Oh-so important.

RIPPLE Africa allows volunteers in Malawi the chance to write for their weekly blog, ‘Mwaya Mondays’. Earlier this week, their recent post really hit home on this idea of ingenuity in the field, with a direct and measurable outcome.

Tine Westerdahl, a doctor from the Netherlands shared a very powerful story about a young Malawian boy born with congenital brain damage, making it very difficult for him to walk. At first, Isaac was using a small cane to take his first steps in training his muscles and developing motor skills in his legs. However, improvement was slow and ultimately very difficult for him to master.

Tine’s story of ingenuity and what was constructed for young Isaac is a tale best left in his own words. Quite simply, it is a beautiful story, and poignant reference to ingenuity and the power of our minds. If you’ve read this far, then please read the following excerpt from Tine.

This is why I jump in the lake every week. If only to make you, the reader, aware of stories and the power of good in this world. Read it. Live it. And let your mind wander.

This week’s Mwaya Mondays blog is written by RIPPLE Africa volunteer Tine Westerdahl, who is a nurse from Denmark

I have now been at Mwaya Beach for six weeks – it is unbelievable how quickly time flies by and yet, on the other hand, I feel quite at home. I have a busy weekly routine, and I think that has helped me settle in so quickly to Malawian life.

My work alternates between the clinics in nearby villages helping at “under 5” clinics, outreach clinics, malnutrition clinics, etc. In between these clinics, I teach first aid and other health related subjects – I have even started to do a few computer lessons as well.

Once a week I go out with Collins, the RIPPLE Africa Senior Healthcare Coordinator, who visits clients in the community on his motorbike. Collins has a vast number of clients, and they all have an amazing story that deserves to be told.

Isaac is a five-year-old boy with congenital brain damage, which results in problems with the use of his legs. The main problem is his balance but, after a lot of practice, he can now walk with a stick. When using his stick, however, he is still unsteady and needs more training of his leg muscles and his balance to be able to walk more effectively.

To make it easier for Issac to train his muscles and balance, we decided to try to build a walker for him. I enrolled the services of our day watchman Arnold, who is very good with his hands, to help me construct the walker. I found some plastic tubes that were not too heavy for a little boy to carry and then the creative work began. We finished constructing the walker… well, when I say “we” I mean Arnold was working with the plastic tubes and I was trying not to get in his way!

 Now the walker is finished, Collins and I needed to see if it would work. We took the walker to Isaac, and it only took him a few minutes before he got the idea of the walker and he started immediately to walk around the area. In the beginning only walking slowly straight forward, but after a few minutes he began to make turns. I have visited Isaac twice before today, and it is the first time I have seen him walking so much – I was afraid that he would actually have sore leg muscles that evening.

With so little resources available to the local people here, it is quite amazing how adaptable and creative they can be. The material to make the walker equated to about £2, and it just took a bit of creativity and determination to build it. Issac’s family would never be able to afford to buy an aid such as this walker, so it is purely down to the resourcefulness of the community to help solve an easy problem in the developed world but here is a constant challenge.

The lovely thing here is that everyone wants to try to help and takes great pride in it. When I came back to show Arnold the picture of Issac with his walker, he was so pleased to see his creation in action…he wanted to name it the “AB Walker” standing for “Arnold Banda’s Walker”. We will see if it makes patent!

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