University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Kathy Quirk

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Dec 21, 2009 
Delivering Panther Pride to Malawi
Screening t-shirts for Malawi


Four hundred orphans in Malawi may be cheering on Panthers basketball, the Green Bay Packers and the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee’s College of Nursing.

UWM nursing student with children in Malawi.
UWM Nursing student with children in Malawi.

The UWM chapter of an international nursing honor society is collecting new and gently used T-shirts for children in a community-based orphan care program in Malawi. UWM, Wisconsin and/or sports-themed T-shirts are welcome, say the drive’s organizers. The Eta Nu chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International is aiming to gather 400 T-shirts in youth sizes by the end of December, says Sarah Morgan, assistant professor of nursing and president of the chapter. 

Thirty-two nursing students in the university’s UWinteriM course in Malawi will deliver the T-shirts in January when they visit the orphan care program, where the children live in a community and are cared for by older siblings, grandparents or other extended family members. Lucy Mkandawire-Valhmu, a native of Malawi and an assistant professor of nursing at UWM, suggested the T-shirts as a useful item. She is one of three faculty members leading the Malawi course, which starts Jan. 7, 2010.

Malawi is considered one of the poorest countries in the world, with more than 60 percent of the population living in poverty and lacking the basic necessities of life, according to Mkandawire-Valhmu.

Donations of money to buy T-shirts are also welcome, says Morgan. Extra cash will be used to buy soccer balls, crayons, jump ropes and pencils for the children in the orphanage. T-shirt donations can be dropped off at the College of Nursing, Cunningham Hall, room 147. Checks can be made out to Eta Nu Chapter and sent to Eta Nu Chapter, UWM College of Nursing. P.O. Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201. 

The UWinteriM course in Malawi gives nursing students a chance to visit hospitals, clinics and social service organizations in that country. Students will also do some health education programs, and meet with local Malawians who are working for better healthcare in the country. The Malawian healthcare system is overextended, says Mkandawire-Valhmu, a graduate of Malawi’s Kazmu College of Nursing. 

“We wanted to do something to support the trip because Sigma Theta Tau has an international focus,” says Morgan. “This gives us an opportunity to help. We want to make sure every child at the orphanage receives a T-shirt.”

The T-shirt project has a Facebook event page  at Eta Nu Chapter Supports Malawi for more information. Those who have questions or need a donation picked up can contact Morgan 414-229-4173.