The land cruiser bounced over the dusty roads, jostling Violet and me as we drove into the hazy morning sky covering the villages. We picked up Heswick, an orphan who was identified by our Malawian staff members as vulnerable, to take him to the clinic to have his wound redressed. The clinic asked us to bring more wound care supplies since they were out.
The nurse who regularly dresses Heswick’s wound gently stripped off the old bandages and carefully washed the wound. There were some granules around the edge of the wound and I asked what they were. “That’s sugar,” the nurse informed me. “We like to use honey because honey keeps the scar tissue from hardening, but we don’t have honey so we use sugar.” Not certain that sugar is a good substitute but “I have honey. I just bought honey from the VIP Beekeepers’ Cooperative. Would you like to use my honey?” Vi ran to the car and brought in the unopened bottle of golden salve. Who knew? Yet another wonder of honey.
The wound is healing, the bandage is changed. We were right on time for my meeting with the VIP staff. We all got into the land cruiser when Vi came around and poked her head in my window. “Amayi, they want to see you inside.” I followed Vi into the maternity ward. There was a mother trying to get her 2-week-old to nurse but the infant child lay in her mother’s arms struggling to breathe. The nurse asked if we would rush the mom and baby to Zomba Central Hospital since this kind of case is beyond their capabilities.
I wove over and around unavoidable bumps along the dusty roads, occasionally hearing a groan from the back as we hit a big one. We arrived at the hospital and escorted them to the entrance where a nurse took them to the infant’s ward. As we jumped back into the Land Cruiser to head to the meeting, now an hour late, I asked Vi, if we had not been there that morning, what would have happened to that baby? She quietly answered, that’s when death comes. Everyone understands here when you arrive late. Things happen in Malawi.