Back in February, VillageReach purchased bicycle ambulances for a number of communities in rural Malawi. Before they had these bicycles, community members would often resort to making homemade stretchers to carry their loved ones to the nearest health facility. Needless to say, the communities are very excited to have the new bicycle ambulances. In June, I was able to go back to Malawi and visit three of the communities with the new ambulances.
Welcomed by song and dance, I was incredibly excited to learn that the communities had formed committees to maintain the bicycleambulances and regulate their usage. The committees each had an appointed treasurer who gathered and secured funds to ensure that thebicycle ambulances would be well kept as a community resource. Of the three communities I visited, one community had used their bicycleambulance twice, another once, and the third had still not used theirs. While at first this seems like the bicycle ambulances are being underutilized, to me it reflected a real valuing of the bicycle ambulances;the communities were not allowing them to be abused and were reserving them for truly grave emergencies. This was a perfect (and heartening) example of real community buy-in, which at the end of the day is one of the few variables that can really support true sustainability.