Edinburgh-based charity, EMMS International[i], is tackling pain and hunger in Malawi. Our Chifundo project, meaning “compassion”, has already helped 6,618 people in Malawi to access pain relief, quality care and food support. Over and above this, 26,472 family members have also benefitted from these essential services.
The project is funded by the “Every Life Matters” 2017 Christmas appeal which raised £1.73 million, including £846,248 of match funding from the UK government[ii]. The campaign was backed by The Daily Record, Sunday Herald, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and musician Emily Smith.
The Chifundo project targets rural communities in Malawi, where incurable disease can condemn patients to a life of pain. On top of this, patients and their families often experience extreme hunger when sickness adds to their existing burden of poverty.
Our local partners in Malawi are working hard to change this by training more specialist healthcare workers, improving access to essential medicines like morphine, helping families start their own kitchen gardens and advocating for better national health policies.
This palliative care revolution is easing pain and hunger, but the benefits don’t end there as the burden of care is lifted from whole families. Family members, and often patients, are able to return to work. Children, particularly girls, can return to school. Giving care when there isn’t a cure restores opportunities to families fighting to break the cycle of sickness and poverty.
Before the Chifundo project, 14-year-old Jeremiah’s cancer diagnosis left him hungry and in pain. His mother struggled to find enough food for the family, even though food was essential for Jeremiah’s medicine. He lay on a grass mat in pain from cancer in his leg and pressure sores on his body.
Thanks to the generous support of the ‘Every Life Matters’ appeal, and match funding from the UK government, Jeremiah and others like him are getting the care they deserve. Even though a cure is not available, there is still much that can be done to improve the quality of life of Jeremiah and his family.
EMMS International partner, Palliative Care Support Trust, has been able to help renovate the family home so that they have safe and dry accommodation, especially in the rainy season. When needed, Jeremiah gets additional food support to help him stay strong and continue with his medication. Families like his are benefitting from support to set up kitchen gardens to help fight off hunger.
Jeremiah receives regular visits from specialist healthcare workers to help him manage his pain and other symptoms. This eases the burden of care on his mother too.
Two years ago, Jeremiah missed going to school and playing football with his friends. Thanks to a wheelchair provided by PCST he is able to sit up and be more mobile. He can now spend time with his friends and enjoys the visits of a teacher who comes to his home for weekly lessons.
Director of Fundraising
[i] Founded in 1841, EMMS International is a Christian, international healthcare charity with life-changing projects in Malawi, India, Nepal and Edinburgh.
[ii] EMMS International benefitted from match-funding by the UK government through the Department for International Development’s UK Aid Match programme. Public donations are matched pound for pound, giving the UK public a further say in how aid money is spent.