Meet Wilson Banda

Wilson is a Community Health Worker in Malawi, Africa.

Wilson with his trusty Raja bicycle

Wilson with his trusty Raja bicycle

He has been doing this for 10 years and is unpaid. He is not a doctor or a nurse but he has some health training from our local partner, YONECO. Wilson is delivering health care to rural Malawians; he travels village-to-village screening for tuberculosis, monitoring people with malaria, advocating healthy living, and caring for people with HIV/AIDS.

His job requires him to travel great distances to connect communities to Health Care. Health Centres are on average 15km away and when you have to walk it can be a matter of life or death. Wilson used to walk on average 4 hours a day but with a bicycle he is able to reach more patients and save time for his family and farming.

The day we met Wilson…

I knew the remote nature of this village from the experience driving in but I would not know the true impact until the Village Chief described the previous day to me. His uncle had gotten sick for the 2nd time that month and needed urgent help due to a fever that would not let up. The closest hospital was 15km away and there was no access to transportation. His family cut down 2 trees and built a makeshift stretcher so the uncle could be laid down to rest. Four Community Health Volunteers gathered around the uncle and carried him to the hospital by foot – it took 2 hours. The uncle would not join us that day because he was not doing well.

I took a moment to rest in the shade when one of the Community Health Volunteers approached me to say, “thank you”. He didn’t need to say anything because I could sense the gratitude from his wide smile. He had been a community health volunteer for 10 years without receiving any financial gain. I wondered why? Wilson was 46 years old and that was older than the average life expectancy in Malawi. Wilson explained, “helping my community fight HIV/AIDS is my #1 priority.” He lost his family to AIDS too many years back to count, and he was still smiling, but I could tell that he never forgot this.

I left this day infused with optimism and faith. I would leave to go back to town on the same dirt path we drove in on. As we left the village 3 bicycles surged past us waving goodbye.
— Kristen Corbet, BWB Program Director