Sunday, November 28, 2010

Celebrating Bicycle Ambulances

By Krystle Praestiin

Golden Village in Mulanje has a population of around 3000 people; they live between 15 to 20 kilometers from the nearest District Hospital and recently suffered the loss of three community members because they were unable to get them to the hospital in time. Imagine their excitement when an ADRA vehicle carrying two newly donated Bicycle Ambulances from ADRA Portugal, came to gift them with these potentially life-saving bicycles.

Women, men and children gathered around the Bicycle Ambulances as they were being assembled, excitement and wonder on their faces. The women’s exuberant singing filled the air as they sang songs thanking ADRA Portugal for providing funds to have these two Bicycle Ambulances donated to their village. It was an uplifting experience to be a part of. Each community member, with their broad smiles and joyful dancing now had hope that unnecessary deaths could be prevented with the extra time these Bicycle Ambulances would provide.

To express their gratitude a man with very good English wrote the following letter on behalf of the Golden Village Chief and community members, to thank ADRA Portugal for their donation.

Dear friends of Portugal,
On behalf of Golden Village Citizens I wish to thank all the friends of Portugal who have sent us these two bicycles and trolleys. We were suffering seriously and dying without reaching our nearby hospitals because we were lacking trolleys. So please send our sincere greetings to all friends of Portugal ADRA.
Sincerely Yours,
Chief of Golden Village of Mulanje District

The bicycles were handed over to a Bicycle Ambulance management and maintenance committee of 10 people. On the committee was the brother of a man who had recently died from measles because he was unable to get to the hospital in time. This brother is the Vice Chairman of the group and together with his fellow committee members is committed to maintain and manage these bicycles to the best of their abilities. The committee has already set up procedures for managing the Bicycle Ambulances, deciding to charge each community member a fee of 10 kwacha a month (less than $1 US), this money will then be used to make repairs to the bicycles. Log books of when and by whom the bicycle is used will be kept to ensure that the bicycle is used appropriately and is not damaged. The treasurer and another member of the committee will be in charge of keeping the Bicycle Ambulances while they are not being used.

Thanks to the donation of ADRA Portugal, ADRA Malawi was able to provide a very valuable resource to the people of Golden Village, a resource that will help save lives. The donations of ADRA Portugal will also see the provision of eight more Bicycle Ambulances to other villages under the Women Empowerment Project2 (WEP2) which is funded by Sida, through ADRA Sweden.

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