Mpongwe Mission Hospital, Zambia

Marieke Lagro has returned to Holland after her three years of service and we give thanks to God for all her sterling work.   There were several doctors there: Dr Tasila Tembo, Dr Soko, (see below) and a new Dutch doctor who joined in October 2002, Dr Hannah de Grooth.
She writes," I am the new Medical Officer in charge at Mpongwe Mission Hospital.
My husband (Joost Witte) and I arrived in Mpongwe at the beginning of December and hope to stay for three years. As we are settling down I have already come across your name several times. I came to understand that your organisation is closely involved with the hospital. Until now I have not completely understood what your relationship with the MMH involves but I hope you can inform me slightly more about your organisation and your involvement with the MMH.
I hope we can maintain and strengthen the ties in the following three years and even beyond."

The other doctor was Dr Soko but we have heard from Dr John Phiri, whose training was supported by HHI, that Dr. Soko died Tuesday 15th April 2003 of Meningitis. He was a good surgeon and no one deserves to die this way and in the prime of his life. We feel for his wife, who also seems to be sick, and their only son. Life is really tough in Zambia and every time we wonder how people cope with the many losses of relatives and friends. (Click here for a look at the statistics from the Children's Ward.)

We also have to report the sad death of Idah Mungube. Marieke, who worked closely with her says,
"She was my favourite theatre nurse and I am really upset about this news. She seemed to have suffered from recurrent otitis media which was complicated by bacterial meningitis. She died in UTH (United Teaching Hosptial) and I hope that Godfridah, her best friend, was with her. I admired Idah very much for her personality and concern for people, especially those with HIV/AIDS. She has been very active as an AIDS-councillor in the AIDS team and as an advocator for women's rights. She was also one of the few who encouraged me in times when it was difficult. She was foster mother of Chipego,

the baby girl whose mother died in labour just before I arrived in Mpongwe in 1998 and she was planning on adopting the girl. It is so unbelievable that I will never see her again.

A lot of people I knew have died since I left: there is Adrian's brother; the wife to reverend Popo; and one of the nurses from Mpongwe Development Company clinic. It is so sad (and so unfair as well)."

Later News

Dr Tasila Tembo writes,
"We are now blessed with three doctors in the hospital so the work is not as much as it used to be when I was alone. Do keep remembering us in your prayers so that the hospital improves. The official opening was really nice and we even filmed it with a camcorder."

The following is an extract from a letter and e-mail received from the grateful staff of Mpongwe Mission Hospital, equipment for which was part provided for by Rotary International.
Dear Rotarians Kanyakula and Lucas:
The Matching Grant Project helped provide medical equipment for a high care room in the children's ward of the Mpongwe Mission Hospital in Luanshya, Zambia.
The hospital beds and specialist equipment purchased with the grant money were delivered to the hospital in January and put into use immediately in the new ward of which we have pictures. Later the ward was opened officially at an Open Day attended by VIP's, hospital staff and Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Luanshiya.
I have recently received photographs taken at the Open Day and a message of thanks from the hospital senior doctor.

Here are some photographs of the hospital taken at the time of official opening ceremony.
Unfortunately the photos do not show much of the equipment supplied other than one of the beds. However the dedication wording (hospital photograph 4) above the entrance door clearly acknowledges the involvement of Rotary International and the participating Rotary Clubs.

The greatest need

The greatest need in Mpongwe at present is for accommodation for more staff.
We wondered about a hostel but thought that perhaps there are government regulations which have to be followed. Would you advise us on this please, also how many staff you need?
Raising money for this will not be as easy as money for direct hospital use.
They agree that nurses should have their own room and can share a kitchen, toilet and bathroom. The idea would be to build semi-detached houses. Electricity and water supply should not be a problem although currently one of the water pumps needs repairs and a capacity problem might develop in the future (especially when other groups like MBA execute their plans for building extra houses, although these plans still seem to be in a very premature state).

The hospital needs to get permission from the Council to start building and this will only be given when an acknowledged Zambian architect has made the drawings. These drawings are already existing, according to John Western.

The hospital will make a fairly detailed budget if you are willing to donate the money. Manpower and materials are available, it is only a question of money (as usual) and time.