Clinical mornings in Malawi were made up of something different each day—we never knew what to expect when we tumbled out of our bus. The one thing we could always count on was to be greeted with smiling faces, our Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) partner and friends, and things we have never seen or experienced before.
Over the span of four days in clinical, there were never less than a few hundred patients waiting when we arrived on site—all eagerly waiting to receive vaccinations, treatment for sickness, and family planning assistance. During those four days going all around Lilongwe to different villages and communities, I was exposed to more than I have ever seen.
In our clinics, we offered vaccinations for healthy babies, a clinic for children under the age of five who were sick, and family planning for women. My favorite station to be assigned to was the under five clinic. Mothers would come and sit with their child in their lap, and my KCN partner and I would work as a team to evaluate our patient. She would translate for me and we would work together to arrive at a diagnosis and plan of care.
As an American nursing student, having this much autonomy was exciting and terrifying, but it was very clear at the end of each day that we had made a difference in the lives of hundreds of God’s children in Malawi. It was very humbling to be the Lord’s hands and feet in this situation—being able to give infants and expectant mothers important vaccines to protect against tetanus and other diseases.
Our trip did not only consist of outer clinical sites, however. We were blessed to be welcomed into the homes of Mtendere Village and get to know the children and the house moms. Momma Ruth and Momma Naomi took me in as their own child and each night we all met together with the children in their houses to have devotionals and sing together.
Being able to travel across the world and find such strong faith in a country that seems to have close to nothing was something that changed my heart and encouraged my faith in a way that I will never forget. This trip was a huge life-changing opportunity that I feel so blessed to have been a part of.
Ruthie Schaefer is a nursing student at Auburn University.