Recently, I asked our champion partner Theresa Malila of “Somebody Cares” Malawi (SCM) about the importance of bicycles in our ministry to critically ill orphans and widows. This is her answer:
The volunteers most times travel the long distances to bring much needed supplies and meds to the critically ill patients on the bikes. The priority is to be able to get to the patients quickly and provide immediate care and support. The bicycle is key!
If the patient needs urgent care, the bike becomes the ambulance. Usually, they have someone sit behind the patient to hold them. Two are able to sit behind sometimes. Others even tie the patient to their backs — like we do to carry babies — and ride at a slow pace. If they find the patient is unable to sit on the bike, they then pay for the oxcart to transport them as they cycle ahead to the hospital with the caregiver.
The volunteer can go to clinics to get the patient’s meds and,if possible, transport the clinician back to the patient. “Our doctor” at St. Gabriel’s, Dr. Elizabeth, is usually collected on a bike by a volunteer and taken “side-saddle” on the rear carrier to visit critical patients.
Last Christmas, we gave you the opportunity to Wrap Up a Bicycle as a gift to our dedicated and vital Home Based Care (HBC) volunteers. Your response was “over-the-top” and the relief it brought the volunteers was/is palpable. When Kathy and I were in Africa in September, we witnessed bicycles in action and were humbled by the gratitude expressed for them. They are a prized possession! We were reminded that a bike not only can carry a patient to the hospital (or a doctor to the patient) but it also can reduce a volunteer’s travel time by two thirds – in some cases cutting a round trip from nine hours to three.Our champion partner Eric Mwambelo of “Impact Community Outreach” (ICO) in Kabwe, Zambia said this about the bicycles WOW provided this year:
Bicycles are a blessing in several ways: A bicycle reduces the time volunteers spend walking to visit just one client. They can now visit more patients in a single day, increasing outreach and impact!
A bicycle also serves as a means to carry clients to medical centres, giving rapid access to healthcare for the patient and, in turn, for the entire community.
WOW has grown significantly this year. Our partners have requested EIGHTY (!) bicycles for 2024 in order to meet the greater HBC transportation needs. What’s more, they’ve asked if we can provide bicycles that are tougher and stronger and longer lasting. (These ‘heavy duty’ bikes, of course, are at higher cost.)
So you can see why we’re asking you to Wrap Up a Bicycle again this Christmas. What an amazing gift!
With your generous support, WE CAN DO IT.
Everything we do we do in the Name of Jesus whose birth we celebrate this Christmas season. Our champions and volunteers give Him joyous praise.
And so do we.
Let there be peace on earth, and Merry Christmas!