THIS week, Denis Robson from the Thondwe Community Forum, brings us the latest news from the group...

For more than a century Scots and Malawians have been working together to improve healthcare and fight disease. There have been a great many successes but sadly many of the diseases are still prevalent today.

The Thondwe Partnership is looking at ways to make a difference to the lives of a few members of the community afflicted with treatable conditions and to help prevent people from becoming sick.

After visiting the clinic in Thondwe Lois Hindley, community staff nurse in the Tweeddale district nurse team said: "It was a unique opportunity to compare their health facilities with St Ronan's and Haylodge Health Centres.

"It was truly humbling to meet the people providing such comprehensive and appropriate care under such difficult conditions; such as providing compassionate palliative care in the face of particular challenges around the irregular supply of basic pain relieving medications.

"It is a privilege to be able to help them, in a small way, over the coming months."

We accept that we cannot help everyone, but we will try to make a difference to as many people as we can. Two such young people are 31-year-old Gift Mingola and 13-year-old Blessings Likweta.

Gift’s story is one of repeated consultations and unsuccessful operations at a provincial hospital for a facial tumour. A referral to a specialist has been arranged who has carefully assessed and planned treatment which we hope will be curative.

Blessings assessment by a specialist revealed that his case is inoperable, but his quality of life will be considerably improved with a new wheelchair and improved living conditions. Thanks to the Innerleithen, Traquair and Walkerburn (ITW) church congregation for their generosity.

The health partnership has worked on two significant projects. One resulted in the dramatic improvement of the sight of 40 members of the community who received eye glasses to match their prescription, courtesy of the High Street Peebles opticians.

The second project's primary aim has been to support and empower 50 girls by providing each of them with reusable washable sanitary hygiene kits and the relevant health education which will enable them to continue with their lives without the fear of discrimination.

This has been achieved through partnership with Peebles Days for Girls Charity and has developed further by giving training and support to the Thondwe sewing group to make and distribute these kits themselves so that they now can earn an income and ensure that the project is sustainable locally.