Zigodo, North Malawi


A botch on both sides

The pandemic as a hindrance in an IPA course and a dishonest provider – both in Switzerland and in Malawi an unusual lot of commitment was necessary until 20,000 people finally had access to basic medical care.


During the lockdown we all realised how narrow the limits of "distance learning" are. Project work in the form of distance teaching is hardly possible. But the class at Hottingen high school had no choice. At the end of February 2020 18 students started their cooperation with IPA. But after only four lessons they found themselves in the home schooling modus. The whole planning process of their project took place via a digital platform, but fundraising activities had to be cancelled altogether. And only shortly before the summer holiday the letters asking for financial support could be sent to private addresses. Despite of these difficulties the two most important sub projects for the "Enukweni Health Centre" could be planned and financed. And so the students had at least got an impression of what development work is all about. Two female students became so enthusiastic that they managed to complete their own projects in Bangladesh, much to the delight of IPA and the headship of Hottingen high school.



But those who had thought that with the successful fundraising campaign the biggest problems had been solved, were mistaken. The main aim of the project was to furnish the station in Zigodo with all kinds of medical equipment: from microscope to wheelchairs – in short, with everything that belongs to basic medical care. Even further education courses for members of staff were planned. But the implementation soon turned into a nerve-racking ordeal. Because even relatively simple gadgets are not available in Malawi, the provider had to order them abroad. But the government had closed the borders and so imports were impossible for a long time. And later – it really was exasperating – he kept the IPA partner organisation waiting for months. When he finally asserted that the goods had been delivered, the local IPA representative once more travelled to Lilongwe, but on his arrival was informed that most gadgets had been sold to somebody else. End of discussion! The dealer had to repay an advance and finally almost all the goods could be obtained from another firm. A group of specialists came to Zigodo to give the personnell a thorough instruction into the handling of the new equipment.

It was not the perfect project, but considering all the difficulties it can be said that we did our best – for the benefit of the people in the Enukweni region. And the relief among the students in Zurich-Hottingen was tremendous. They have certainly learnt that development work is not easy at all. This will also help the two young women with their own projects in Bangladesh.

All is well that ends well.