Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Fuel crisis in Malawi affecting Blind people in Thyolo and elsewhere





You are not the only one wondering how this can be possible.
What do young and old blind have to do with fuel crisis in Malawi? After all they are from the rural areas of Malawi, never had a driving license in their life; and will never drive .More over they rarely see vehicles in their community.
The first time I heard that there was no diesel in Malawi was about four weeks ago when I was doing my research in Thyolo ; to be more specific around Bvumbwe area .When I went to the diesel station at Bvumbwe there was a lot of diesel around ; and I was told the problem was only in Blantyre. Continuing with my journey I visited villages around Bvumbwe health centre hoping to learn some Lomwe ; only to be told that the traditional authority (TA ) Bvumbwe is a Ngoni descent from Ntcheu and that all his people are Ngonis (did you know that?) .For me , my assignment was simple , to examine the blind and visually impaired so didn’t care whether you were a Ngoni or Lomwe (Muhlako ; as long as you were blind you were my client ) .We anticipated that we would harvest around 200 blind people from Thyolo and that they would all be helped through a sight restoring operation schedules to take place in Blantyre at Queen Elizabeth Hospital .
The next few visits were scheduled for Ndata farm, Makande tea estate, Luchenza, Mangazi , Boidi , Kwethemule ,Mauwa and Chitimbe and we were going to be there for at least 10 days . But we did not complete the work, only stayed for 2 days and I have not been back since then. Will tell you the reason why! Fuel crisis.
I overheard some people discussing that the present lack of fuel in Malawi was due to shortage of forex ; but with my ageing grey matter I could not figure how the two were related (excuse me , I still haven’t yet figured how ) . It was of course a relief when I heard the high authority announcing that the crisis was due to Mozambican Government blocking the passing of trucks with fuel from South Africa to Malawi and this initially made some sense to me .But eventually I started wondering that for my 40 years that I have been in Malawi (perhaps more important for the 16 years that I have been driving) I have never heard of a fuel crisis in Malawi ; even during worse days when Kamuzu the other “Ngwazi” was in bad books with Mozambican president the late Samora Machel ;we still had fuel in Malawi .At that point having smelt a rat , I decided to stop thinking about why we were having fuel crisis and concentrate on seeing my patients in Thyolo. After all, being a senior citizen and doing good work to help the poor and the needy, I did not think anyone would deny me fuel to go to the field but I was wrong again (excuse me I am old).
Within two days the fuel crisis had accelerated, and all diesel in Thyolo and elsewhere was gone.
I tried to maneuver around using my influence (“good” corruption) but could not succeed in getting fuel anywhere.
Unfortunately all Chiefs from areas scheduled for visits were told to mobilize and gather patients at particular places on the given dates; and with this fuel crisis everything came to an end .
I have been rendered a liar ; have had people calling and asking when the trips will be rescheduled, and as long as the current situation continues I do not see myself doing any more community work.Please do not arrest me for my freedom of speech.

I am still drawing my small salary and working in Blantyre (I dont think I should stop) , but of course I am no longer going to the field as a Community Ophthalmologist.So do you now see how the blind from Thyolo and elsewhere have been affected by fuel crisis? Unfortunately they do not have anyone to speak for them; some of us may lose our jobs for being their advocate.
I can be sacked for other reasons , but not for my incompetence, because I am not the one responsible for the fuel crisis.

Meanwhile I have time to sit down at the lake and take some drinks while I wait for the numbers of blind people to continue rising up. Hopefully with the good policies of the current Government (that I fully voted for and support) that gives enough free fertilizer to all its citizens (compaired with only a starter pack from the previous Government), those blind should still be able to farm and get a bumper harvest next year. Otherwise I instead of the “fuel” crisis may be blamed for not having visited them and advising them to go for an operation, yet I know they can see again.
I rest my case on fuel .

Any good advice on what I should do?
Or do you just want to comment?

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1 comment:

Cynthia said...

Dear good Doctor,
I have enjoyed immensely reading your blog, I have been so encouraged by your heart to serve the poor who are in such need. I groan inwardly with you when you face these incredibly frustrating obstacles, and I pray that God will sustain your faith and courage as you labor to help your people.