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Maryland church helps fund new health clinic


MUTARE — Construction of a new modern clinic at Munyarari Mission in Mutare is underway, thanks to a partnership between Bel Air United Methodist Church in Bel Air, Maryland, and the Zimbabwe East Conference.


Through “Chabadza — Healing Hands Across Zimbabwe,” a mission group founded by Bel Air members Dave and Beverley Talbot, Munyarari Medical Clinic will be relocated from its current makeshift structure to a more spacious location on the high school grounds.

Munyarari Mission is home to a primary and secondary school, church sanctuary and the clinic.

“I’ve been quite overwhelmed with the love and support that Bel Air United Methodist Church has been able to show toward our sisters and brothers in Zimbabwe,” Byron Brought, lead pastor at Bel Air said.

“Our goal has been to renovate the medical clinics in the Zimbabwe East Conference, starting with Munyarari Mission. It’s an enormous undertaking, but we are absolutely committed, with God’s help and help from friends in Zimbabwe, to completing it.”

Munyarari is the first of six rural clinics under Old Mutare Mission Hospital to be rebuilt or upgraded.

The new clinic, which has a staff of three nurses and one nurse aide, will have outpatient rooms, prenatal and postnatal facilities, data capturing, a waiting shed, washing facilities, duplex housing for staff and a borehole, Sue McCann, a volunteer from Pittsburgh said.

“We are building a clinic which conforms to government standards,” McCann who, along with fellow volunteer Jim Gourley, spent six weeks witnessing progress at the new health facility, said.

McCann and Gourley have been involved in rural health clinic upgrades like this one through their work with The Nyadire Connection, a non-profit organisation founded by a group of United Methodists in Pittsburgh.

Zimbabwe Episcopal Area projects coordinator, Austern Chepiri, said the construction of the Munyarari clinic is expected to cost about $349 000.

Phase two includes male and female wards and a maternity wing, fencing and a borehole, which will supply clean water to the new facility. Phase three includes pit latrines to complement the flush-system toilets in the first phase and staff housing.

“The first phase, which includes the waiting shed, outpatient block, toilets and staff duplex to house two families, should be completed in July,” Chepiri said.

The final phase will be the construction of a waiting mothers’ home to accommodate expectant mothers who need to stay at the clinic from 36 weeks gestation.

This is recommended for women who live far from the clinic and those whose pregnancy may be classified as high-risk and need constant medical attention.

The Munyarari Mission clinic currently operates out of a six-room teacher’s house, which was converted into a clinic in 2009.

It is small and can no longer cope with the high demand for services from the villagers in the catchment area, which has almost 10 000 people.

“Some people travel over 9km to get treatment at the clinic whose services have been rated as being in the top five rural clinics in Mutare district, out of 40 such facilities,” the nurse-in-charge, Mildred Marimbire said.

The clinic registers about 35 new prenatal bookings per month and attends to around 50 patients a day.

Maternity complications are referred to Sakubva District hospital, while medical conditions are referred to Mutare Provincial Hospital and the United Methodist-run Mutambara Mission Hospital.

Munyarari is being upgraded to a standard rural health clinic in accordance with the Zimbabwe Health and Child Care ministry specifications.

There are also plans to upgrade the five other clinics under Old Mutare Mission Hospital: Gatsi, Arnoldine, Chitora, Chinyadza and Nyangombe.

The upgrades are being funded through the Chabadza partnership.

“Chabadza” is a local concept where farmers take extra hoes to the field and passers-by who see them working will take up the spare hoes and assist.

Under the partnership, villagers provide bricks, stones, sand and labour, while the partners provide the other building materials such as roofing, windows and cement, and also pay the contractor.

Daniel Chitsiku, Mutare district superintendent, recently met community leaders at the site to encourage them to mobilise villagers to provide local materials on time.

“This is our project as we are the beneficiaries. We are grateful for assistance from our partners but we must play our role as defined by Chabadza,” Chitsiku said.
The village heads, counsellors and members of the clinic committee pledged to supply the local materials needed by the contractor.

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