July 2009 - Running up Mulanje for Murals

In July 2009, one of SMMHEP's volunteers, Robert Stewart, took part in the Mulanje Mountain Porter's Race to raise money to improve the environment on the wards at Zomba Mental Hospital. The Porter's Race is an annual race up Malawi's highest mountain, Mt Mulanje (25 km with about 1200m of ascent) run mainly by local porters and guides. Robert managed to get round in a creditable 5 hours, and thanks to the great generosity of sponsors, raised over £2000 (+ £500 gift aid).
There is an ongoing government-funded programme of improvements at Zomba Mental Hospital but no money available to brighten the wards/corridors etc. It is well understood that the environment plays an important role in promoting recovery of patients and boosting staff morale. Thus this work will benefit both people living with severe mental disorders (who often also live with the added burden of extreme poverty and stigma) and the committed staff who work in very difficult circumstances to care for them.
Mathias Funsani, a talented Malawian mural painter, has now completed painting the children's ward and 3 of the adult wards. As you can see from the photos, the children's bed area is now a much brighter and more stimulating place. On each of the adult wards Matthias has done murals in the dining room, visitors lounge and reception area. He has done a fantastic job and the staff at ZMH are very pleased. Matthias will return to paint in the other new wards when they have been built.
About half the money raised will be spent on the murals and the rest on other projects to improve the psycho-social care of the patients. We are in discussion with Mr Nkhosi (head occupational therapist) about what would be most beneficial.
Many thanks to all those who generously supported this project.