Red Wing woman headed to MalawiBack in January, Maria Reese had no idea a simple trip to Malawi, Africa, would land her a job in the country.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
Back in January, Maria Reese had no idea a simple trip to Malawi, Africa, would land her a job in the country.
The Red Wing resident was traveling overseas to visit a good friend who works as a nurse in a Malawi clinic. Before long, the same clinic was offering Reese a job of her own.
“There were some changes in personnel that were unforeseen and they knew I had just been there recently,” Reese explained.
She had been hoping to get a job in Africa anyway, but was looking for positions as a teacher. Instead, Reese accepted the offer and was officially commissioned earlier this month here in Red Wing to serve as administrator of the Central Africa Medical Mission.
It’s an opportunity that’s available only to members of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod since the Central Africa Medical Mission is affiliated with WELS. As a member of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Reese qualifies.
Although this will be Reese’s first year joining the mission in Africa, it isn’t the first time health care assistance has been provided to the residents of not only Malawi, but Zambia as well. For years, a Lutheran mobile clinic with a mixture of American and African nurses has provided basic care for malaria, the flu and pneumonia at both locations. It has also offered vaccinations, prenatal care and postnatal care.
“Recently the Zambia clinic has become independent. They have a sole Zambian staff,” Reese said. “But Malawi is not that far yet. The goal is for the Malawi clinic to eventually become independent of the U.S. citizens.”
Basically, she added, “we’re trying to work ourselves out of a job.”
The Malawi clinic features about five village staff members, but with about 300 patients coming in daily, help is still essential.
Reese said the Lutheran mobile clinic isn’t the only option of health care for Malawi residents, but it’s preferred over government health centers.
“They find that the government doesn’t have reliable medication,” she said, adding that the mobile clinic is also more dependable in terms of when it will be open and where it will be located.
An unknown future
As Reese prepares to leave Red Wing behind, she’s unsure of what exactly lies ahead.
She said she hasn’t decided how long she’ll be working in Malawi, but her administrative career there could last up to three years. Much like not knowing when it will end, Reese also doesn’t know when it will start.
“The hope is that I could leave sometime around Aug. 15,” she said, explaining that her true departure date will be determined by when she can be approved for a work permit.
No matter when that is, Reese said she’s anxious to once again see Malawi because she’s been intrigued by it ever since her trip earlier this year.
“It was enough to make me curious to want to go back and learn some more.”