THE MALAWI EXPERIENCE: ALICIA
Having the chance to observe and interact with the people of Malawi taught me a tremendous amount about myself. It was very humbling to see how happy the Malawians were, even with so little. For example, at the street boys’ home they had a volleyball that they would play volleyball and soccer with. However, this ball had multiple holes in it and was completely destroyed and flat. In spite of this, they loved playing with that ball and were so happy when we started playing soccer with them. This taught me that I need to better appreciate what I have, especially since I have been very blessed with many opportunities. Another lesson I learned was about just being present. The kids in Kapudzama loved just spending time with us, and wanted to hold our hands, sit on our laps, or just look at us. It did not matter to them that we could not speak each other’s languages, and they often did not care if we were playing games or painting nails or not; they just wanted to be with us.
The first day in the Kamuzu Central Hospital, we had the opportunity to spend the morning with the orthopedic section PTs. I have shared these stories multiple times, but they greatly impacted me to strive to be the best PT possible. I was so humbled, yet proud, that the PTs do not take their lunch break until all of the outpatient clients of the day have been seen, and that they will see every patient, even beyond the 20 patients per day per section that the government will provide reimbursements for. I have already been taught the importance of giving the best care to every patient, even if that means spending extra time or not being reimbursed for the treatment I am giving. However, seeing that the Malawians can provide their best care and time in this way as well, shows me that I should be able to do the same for all of my patients. They already have so little but will spend extra time, even without the hope of reimbursement, to provide the best treatment “out of the goodness of their hearts” for each patient.
I really enjoyed the opportunities we had to work with the Physician Assistant students in the hospital, because it helped me learn even more about inter-professional encounters and how we can work together to provide the best care for our patients. We were all able to learn more about what the different professions do, and what kinds of services we offer to different patients. I think implementing more experiences like this in the future would be a great addition to the course.
– Alicia B. DPT Student Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions