Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The end of the trip!

Hi everyone.  We are back in California- well most of us.  Jan and Ann went up to the northern part of Malawi to see some missionary friends of Jan's, who work at an orphanage.  It is called Rafiki, and is set up as little homes with "house moms" for each set of 8 to 10 kids.  They are focused on training up the future leaders of Malawi.  Jan should be heading back to California today, and Ann is staying in Malawi for awhile longer, then she goes to Ethiopia to see her sponsor children through World Vision and to do a few other things.  You can follow her journeys through .

Here is another try at the link to our you tube video:  It’s called Chikondi Music Upload Low and can be found at:
It will give you a good idea of what went on during our first few days of training at Chikondi.

To fill you in since the last post.  The second day at Feed the Children was Wednesday, March 31, we met once again with the parents, children, and therapists, in the morning, to emphasize the importance of each position and to demonstrate to the moms how to help their child learn and progress through different skills and stages of development.  The Feed the Children center has a lot of equipment so we were able to help them learn how to use the various items.  At the end of the session each person received a certificate for attending, which was exciting for the therapists and parents alike.

One thing we forgot to mention is that we provided money to feed the participants at all of the workshops we presented. Many of them came from quite a distance at a great expense. Some of the therapists came all the way from the northern part of Malawi. The parents traveled from various parts of the Blantyre area, again, at a great expense to them. In some cases, this may have been their only meal for the day. Thank you for making this possible.

In the afternoon we headed back over to the Chikondi Center for a few minutes to explain the use of a few pieces of equipment that was left, but never used during the demonstrations- leg splints, arm splints, etc. and we wanted to make sure it got used, and used appropriately.

From Chikondi, we headed to Queen’s Hospital, the largest hospital in Malawi.  The hospital had asked Maribeth to help design a play room where kids can go to have fun, and give moms a break to eat or do laundry.  The room was great with bright colors and shelves with toys and books, and a DVD player to watch videos.  We spent some time playing with the children, singing, reading, and just getting to know them. We had a brief tour through parts of the pediatric unit of the hospital where we saw malnutrition, cancer patients, and the ICU.  The hospital was very primitive compared to ours, but it was evident they were trying to provide quality care with what they had available.

Wednesday was our last day of working with the children, parents, teachers, and therapists from around Blantyre and beyond.  It was a busy schedule but we have felt our time here was well used and successful in communicating God's love to these children and families, teaching families how to work with their children in order to bring progress and hope, and training therapists in pediatric skills, stroke rehab, and orthopedic skills.  The recordings that have been made will be left behind to hopefully be used to train others.  It’s mind boggling to think that Blantyre is just one little speck in the world where such needs exist. Where to next?  Only God knows, and it may be back to Blantyre to continue the work we have started. Thanks again to all who have supported us in so many ways, and been part of our "team", those we worked with in Malawi are VERY thankful you helped make it all possible.  Money left over was left with Maribeth to pay the parent coordinators at Chikondi, hopefully therapists to help at Chikondi periodically, and to be used as she deemed best.

On Thursday we left for a brief safari, a treat to ourselves after lots of hard work (meaning no support money was used).  We went to Mvuu Camp in the Liwonde National Park.  It was about a two-hour drive, and then we had a boat taxi up the Shire River to Mvuu Camp.  It was a beautiful boat trip, and we saw lots of hippo, a couple of crocodile, and beautiful scenery.  The camp was amazing. The dining hall was open air so you could look out into the bush or out on the river, the meals were delicious, and we had our own tour guide who joined us in order to brief us on what was coming up next and answer any questions we may have.  Our cabins were gorgeous, a combination of permanent structure with a rock base, insect netting as the walls, and a canvas roof, we were near the river so all night long we listened to the hippos.

We went on a driving safari Thursday afternoon/evening, and we saw impala, warthogs, bushbucks, many interesting birds, monkeys, baboons, zebras, and elephant tracks. We just missed the elephants.  We stopped along the Shire River to watch the sunset, then drove around in the dark to look for nocturnal animals.  We saw a  momma hippo with her baby walking around looking for food.  We also found a few genets (small cats with spots and a bushy tail with rings like a raccoon).  We also looked at the constellations in the night sky, noting the differences in the southern hemisphere.

Day two at the Mvuu camp, Friday, we woke up early so we could go on a walking safari. Our guide took us out into the bush so see what we could find. We found most of the same large animals as we saw yesterday. The bonus was discovering the little things that you can’t see while driving around. We took a look at termites and the mounds they build, found a red velvet beetle, and once again, came across fresh elephant tracks. We just kept missing the elephants.  We also took a boat safari up the river. We saw many colorful birds, a baby crocodile, and many hippo.

Then we headed back to camp for our things, back up the river by boat, and a two hour drive back to Blantyre.  Since it was Good Friday, there were a few processions that went down the road. These parades were made up of hundreds of people and took up half of the road for quite some ways.  We saw some historical spots, and stopped a few times for pictures of the beautiful mountains and scenery.  We didn't see as many animals as we had hoped, but it was a great trip, and a great way to see a bit more of Africa.

After reaching town we headed out one last time for souvenirs and gifts, braving the markets and swarms of eager salesmen.  Once we got all that we needed and wanted, using up the last of our money, we returned to our lodge and a nice barbecue dinner with friends we had met over the past two weeks. 

On Saturday we packed up, and headed to the airport late morning.  We had a nice flight to South Africa (about 2 hours), a few hours to shop in the stores at the airport, then headed to New York with  a stop in Dakar for fuel, security check, and a few more passengers.  On Sunday morning we landed in New York (after a 19 hour flight), got through customs uneventfully, had a few hours to relax, and then on to San Francisco (another 6 hour flight after waiting an hour on the runway).  Then home to our families!!  It was so great to see spouses, our kids, and our beds!!  What an amazing two weeks!! 

Come see videos and pictures of all we did at our dessert (treats from Malawi) and presentation on Friday, April 23rd at 7:00pm at Lakeside Church in Folsom, 745 Oak Avenue Parkway.  We will be in the main building, upstairs in room 216- called J-Street.  Bring your friends and family (children welcome) to see video, pictures, and souvenirs, hear what we did and how God worked, and ask any questions you may have.  We would love to see you all, thank you for your support, and show how your money, supplies, and prayers were well used to benefit many in Malawi.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who supported us in so many ways!  You have been a true blessing to many children, families, and therapists in Malawi.

God bless you all!!
Cheri and the team

For more details- Jim had a great blog at:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What we have been up to!

Hi everyone!!
We had a great sabbath on Sunday.  We went to a small church, the service was 3 hours long, with 2 sermons, lots of singing and clapping, and testimonies.  The passion and energy they had while praising and praying was very inspiring.  Then we went to a fancy hotel in order to get some consistent and reasonable internet, we also had a great lunch while there.  We then stopped by a souvenir market, and were swarmed by sellers wanting to sell what they had made.  They make very beautiful wood carvings here.  After buying a few things, we had to leave since it was getting dark.  We then came back and had dinner at Maribeth's, which was great pasta, rolls, and salad.  It was a nice and relaxing day.

On Monday we went to town to run a few errands and got to a fabric store, where we all got some more things to bring home.  Then we went out to the country to see "Miqlat", which is a "hope center" where they serve 9 surrounding villages.  They provide the children with food once a day, health check ups, HIV testing, and some tutoring for those children either struggling or excelling in school.  They have developed "farming God's way", and have been very successful in their crops compared to surrounding farms.  We also got to see a few families in the surrounding villages, which was interesting.  After our tour, we returned to town and had a great Italian dinner.

Today the OTs did a training at Feed The Children on sensory integration, it was fun to be back with cute kids and their parents.  A few therapists and rehab technicians came as well, and after lunch we met with them to go more in depth about sensory integration, NDT therapy, and pediatric therapy in general.  It was a nice time with colleagues.  The children are seen by therapists at Feed The Children and are much younger, so they are looking much better than the children at Chikondi.  We go back again tomorrow, to do some hands on therapy activities.  After Feed The Children we went to look at more souvenirs- they were done by a mom in the church Maribeth attends.  Her carvings were very nice, we were excited to buy more "cool" stuff and bless someone who would use the money well- to send her children to school.  Then we had a nice dinner at a friend's house- it was beautiful!!

For more details see:

We miss you all!
Cheri & Kim and the rest of the team

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hi everybody!

We are all great, a little tired.  We train all day, go to social events in the evening, and plan the next day's trainings at night.  We have internet, which has been rare around here.  On Thursday we went back for our second day at the Chikondi School.  This training had more of a focus on fun activities that can be done to help the children want to get stronger and work the muscles that don't get used like they should.  Two of the activities included using a parachute (not to jump off of the roof), and a game like hot potato.  It was so fun to watch the parents get just as excited about the games as the kids.  It was so cool to see all of the smiles. 
We had a couple of special visitors today.  A representative of the Malawi MP (Member of Parliament - we are guessing the MP is like a senator in the states) stopped by to see what we were doing and to report back to the MP.  Evidently the actual MP may be visiting us next week.  We also had a journalist from one of the four Malawi newspapers spend the day with us. We were were really surprised to be attracting this kind of attention.  
Just before we left, we were treated to an acrobatic show.  A group of 10 children started out showing some of their Karate moves then went in to building a variety of human pyramids.
Your prayers and financial support made this training the success that it was. We were able to leave balls, mats, braces, parachutes, blankets, and other equipment and supplies that will be able to be used by these children and other children who come to this center.  Before we left, it was announced that two parents will be helping other parents to continue using the skills that were taught over the last two days. They will work together, encourage each other, and help their children in whatever ways they can. It could never have happened without your help. Zikomo-Thank you!
To see a video clip of our time at Chikondi see:
On Friday, Jan presented a training on evaluating and managing shoulder problems.  This was held at the Cure International Hospital, the largest research physiotherapy hospital south of the sub-Saharan Africa.  There were about 15 PTs, 3 OTs, and about 20 rehab technicians (like a COTA or PTA) from all around Malawi in attendance.  It turned out to be a very good workshop.  Those who completed the class received a certificate that can be used towards their advancement.
We were visiting with several of them about salaries and they said that the pay for a physical therapist is around $300 a month. Compared to the average Malawian salary of $50 a month, it looks pretty good.  As for the cost of living, there are many things that are somewhat inexpensive, however, a trip to the local grocery store revealed that many of the grocery store items really aren't much, if any, cheaper than our prices in the US.
One of Maribeth's friends invited us over to her place for supper, by candlelight since the power was off, and no internet as a result. It was a great meal and very interesting to visit with the other invited guests, some good networking was done.  Malawi people have been so amazingly friendly, and the food has been great whether in homes, restaurants, or at our lodge where we are staying.
Today Kim, Melynda, and Cheri presented a stroke course training at CURE International Hospital.  We were very worried about the training content being pertinent and at the appropriate level for the therapists and rehab techs in attendance.  It went very well, KIm did great with adding in a lot of personal experience.  We met some great therapists, and went over to a fellow Californian's home for cupcakes and tea.  We were hoping to get internet but it wasn't working.  So we went out for great burgers, pizza, and ice cream.  Tomorrow we are looking forward to church and some relaxation. 
Jim has been able to keep his blog updated. You can see it by going to:
He has a computer and internet access so it tends to get updated more often.  
We miss all of our families, but it is amazing to see God working in so many ways.
Keep praying!
Cheri, Jim, and the Malawi team

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

God is doing amazing things

WOW!!! Today was an amazing and busy day.  Parent training began today at Chikondi Center with families of children with special needs.  About 60 people attended, and we were met with everyone dancing and singing.  We started with a Bible message, followed with a parent to parent discussion by me. I was amazed that although most parents feel so alone when they are raising a child with special needs, in Africa I have found mothers experiencing the same emotions and struggles that I have.  Therapy balls were inflated, and we moved on to various trainings in positioning and communication issues.  God was with us for sure, and the parents thanked us over and over again for caring for their children.  Josaphina the director of Chikondi said that although people have come to help the orphans before, we are the first people to ever come to help the children with disabilities.  She said that God has done an amazing thing that she believed would never happen.  Tomorrow we are going back to Chickondi to complete our training with these families.

Kim for the Malawi Team 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

We are here!!

Hi Everyone!  We've finally arrived!  After temporarily leaving Jim House in JFK (no passport...ooops! but he'll arrive today\) and after a Malawi Air "detour" through Harare Zimbabwe and Liliongue Malawi, we arrived at Blantyre with 8 out of 10 of our bags.  Mary Beth and Ann were already here and were wildly waving at us from the balcony in the waiting area outdoors.  We collected all we had and loaded it into a van accompanied by Pastor Kalima and several friends.  Settled into the hotel near Chikondi center, had a wonderful barbecue dinner, and hit the hay around 9:00 PM here.

Today, were have visited the Chikondi Center for the Malawi Montessori Project, went out to the Chikondi Center where we will teach on Wednesday and Thursday,and visited several disabled kids and their families at their homes in Ndirande, a poor suburb in eye opener - Ann got a lot of pictures

Right now just finishing up with lunch at Mary O'Neill's (beautiful estate), and will be out to see CURE International Hospital and Feed the Children where we will teach in the upcoming days. 

Thank you SO much for your prayers for us all - God is answering mightily!
In Jesus' love,
Jan, for the Malawi 2010 team
PS: Jim will arrive around 6PM today with the other 2 bags :-)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Save the Date

Thanks to so many of you for being part of our team- financially, prayerfully, and practically.  We would love to share how you helped make a difference in Malawi.  Even if you weren't involved this time, come see what we did, how God worked, and how you can contribute or take part in the future.

We will be presenting about our trip and having dessert, Friday, April 23rd at 7:00pm, at Lakeside Church, in room 216.  Come enjoy!!

We are off tomorrow! Here is our plan-

Here is our plan at this point, so you can be following along and praying for us.  We will be a day ahead in Malawi.  The media/tech team of Jim House and Ann Delagnes will be recording our trainings, and will also be doing some video recording for CURE hospital.  I am sure they will be busy!
  • Saturday, March 20th: Leave San Francisco at 10:00 at night.
  • Sunday, March 21st: Arrive in New York, fly to South Africa.
  • Monday, March 22nd: Arrive in South Africa and fly to Blantyre, Malawi- get settled, and review what we will be doing.
  • Tuesday, March 23rd: Tours of where we will be teaching, schools, and homes to know how activities can be followed through in “real” life, then make any last minute changes to presentations/trainings based on what is seen or heard during the tours.
  • Wednesday, March 24th: At Chikondi school for children with disabilities, working with about 20 children and their parents on activities to help improve their skills.  We will be teaching about communication strategies, sensory activities, UE activities, prone/supine skills, sitting, standing, and walking skills.
  • Thursday, March 25th: At Chikondi school, working with the children and parents, finishing up teaching of skills.  In the afternoon, spending time with the parents- letting them know God loves them and that God loves and values their children.  Spending some time with the teachers on classroom strategies, and goal setting suggestions.
  • Friday, March 26th: Jan Cookson, PT, DPT, teaching a Shoulder Course at CURE International Hospital- a “country-wide” training of therapists and rehab techs (similar to OT/PT assistants).
  • Saturday, March 27th: Kim McVean, OTR/L, Melynda Adragna, OTR/L, and Cheri Wieland, PT, C/NDT teaching a Stroke Rehabilitation course at CURE International Hospital- for therapists and rehab techs from all over Malawi.
  • Sunday, March 28th: Church and relaxation
  • Monday, March 29th: Fair Oaks Presbyterian has a “hope center” in a city close to Blantyre, we will see what they are doing there, how they are helping with water, farming techniques, education, economic development.
  • Tuesday, March 30th:  Jan Cookson, PT, DPT and Cheri Wieland, PT, C/NDT- Sharing some NDT information, handling techniques, and positioning strategies with kids, parents, and therapists at Feed The Children- a children’s rehabilitation facility (I think)
  • Wednesday, March 31st: Kim McVean, OTR/L and Melynda Adragna, OTR/L- Teaching a sensory course with kids, parents, and therapists at Feed The Children
  • Thursday, April 1st: Going on Safari
  • Friday, April 2nd: Return from Safari
  • Saturday, April 3rd: Fly from Blantyre, Malawi to South Africa to New York
  • Sunday, April 4th: Fly from New York to San Francisco
Keep us in your prayers!  We pray for safety, health, and that our luggage and supplies all arrive intact and on time.  We also pray that we are helpful and relevant in our trainings.  Most importantly, pray that we can share God's love to everyone we meet and wherever we go, especially to the children, people, and families affected by disability as they often feel cursed, shamed, and ostracized.  Pray that we are all open to God's leading, and what his plans are for us in Malawi.  We will try to keep you all as updated as possible!!