Update on Covid-19

Also in Malawi Covid-19 is coming up again. Starting in December there is a high increase in the number of infections and also of the number of deceased. There have been reported outbreaks of the virus at some schools, with nationwide school closure as a consequence.

Malawi faces new measures against Covid-19 from January 20, but there is no complete lockdown.
The government is balancing between dangers of the quick spread of the virus and its new variants (f.e. the south African mutant) and the disastrous consequences from a weakening economy for the whole population.

On the other hand Malawi faces serious problems in getting enough resources to procure and distribute the necessary vaccines for her population. One mayor issue is the fact that facilities to store vaccines at very low temperatures are very limited.

At the Eva Demaya Centre as well as at the office in Mzuzu measures are implemented to protect patients and employees as well as possible.
The work at the Centre can continue as usual.
The health care clinic is very busy, not with Corona patients but with a huge flood of people with Malaria. While government hospitals have no Malaria medication available anymore, many people with Malaria come to the Eva Demaya clinic , where the medical staff fortunately is still able to help people with medicines and medical advice.

12 students graduate for vocational training

At the end of November the 2020 vocational training closed down with a festive ceremony at the Eva Demaya Centre.

Following last year’s promise 12 young people were selected to follow the vocational training which is organised on a yearly basis at the Centre.
The aim of this training is to educate a small group of young, vulnerable people in a profession, that can potentially offer them opportunities to build their own small business and gain an income for themselves. The professional young men and women offer their vocational services in tailoring, bicycle repair or tin smithing to their communities, which in their turn benefit.
 
 
 
In this years training a few things were unusual. First there was Covid-19, which compelled to take measures against infections and spread of the virus. Lessons only were started after the situation of Covid in Northern Malawi was a bit better. And of course also general measures of distance and hygiene were followed, including the use of face masks.
It was the first time a training in basis computer skills was added to the vocational programme. Two young ladies were selected to follow courses at a small company in Bolero, instead of at the Centre.
In the tailoring classes a young man with a physical diability was selected, for who some adaptations were needed to learn practical skills. There was also extra attention for some students who lacked the ability to make notes for themselves to study theoretical explanations.

On the 28th of November the graduation ceremony was held for all students, their parents, instructors and some village representatives.
The ceremony was led by Mrs Florence Chafuwa Gondwe, a board member of the Foundation. During her speech she encouraged the trainees to be focused on whatever they do and have vision of who to become in the near future by using the skills gained from the training. Mrs Gondwe handed the certificates to the graduating students and all of them received an appropriate start-up kit, which will help them to launch their own business.
 
 
The students were grateful for the opportunity given to them, remarking that it will really uplift their lives and allow them to live in a more self-reliant way. There was also gratitude to the Eva Demaya Centre and Director Jacqueline Kouwenhoven for the continued support and services rendered to the communities.

Eva Demaya officially hands over Luviri Secondary School to the Malawi government

Eva Demaya is again on the map in Malawi after a very successful and enjoyable event on Monday 28 September.
That day Luviri Secondary School was officially handed over to the Malawi government.

The ceremony was a very high profile one, covered by all the major media outlets here, as the guest of honour was the First Lady of Malawi, Mrs Monica Chakwera, wife of the new State President, His Excellency Lazarus Chakwera. The First Lady comes from the Luviri area, appreciates the work of the Centre so she was delighted to accept Jacqueline’s invitation to come and cut the ribbon to mark the official hand-over.

 
 
 
The First Lady’s speech emphasized the vital importance of education as a driver of national development. Luviri Secondary School can bring enormous benefits to many young people for years to come.

 
 
 
 
Also present was the Minister of Education, Mrs Agnes Nyalonje, who in her speech cited the achievement of Eva Demaya in creating this beautiful school as an example to the whole country of what is possible with energy, vision, skill and sound use of financial resources. The high quality of the construction of the various buildings was noted by both speakers. The donors in the Netherlands were extensively praised and thanked for making the whole project possible.
 
 
A pleasant surprise was the Malawi government’s confirmation that it would supply the school with beds, mattresses, books and desks.

While the First Lady’s presence gave a lot of extra preparatory work for this big event, the organisation was more than rewarded by the extremely positive and extensive publicity resulting from it. Everyone has commented that the school looks magnificent and general hope is that it will become operational as soon as the Covid-19 situation in Malawi allows.

Vocational training in progress

At the Centre the 2020 vocational training has started.
Due to the current situation regarding the Covid-19 virus, some extra measures are in place, but the management at the Centre is very pleased she can offer the vocational training also this year.

In total 12 young people will be trained in a profession that gives an opportunity to earn money. There are 2 people extra this year because there were two vacancies last year. The current students are selected from different villages, mostly because they missed education in their childhood, due to poverty or family situations. The current students are between 19 and 30 years old.


 
 
 
 
The 12 students (6 girls and 4 boys) are being trained in tailoring (6), bicycle maintenance (4) and in ICT (2). The training for bicycle repair takes 3 months and will be given two times for 2 students each.

An innovation this year is the selection of a new discipline. The training for ICT skills is added in order to empower the youths in rural communities to apply these new skills in favour of themselves and their community.
 
 
 
 This training is the first that is given by an external, small commercial company in Bolero, which is about 10 kilometres from the Centre. Two young women follow the courses and accommodation in Bolero is arranged for them for the duration of the courses.

This training program is really breaking new ground for the girls, who come from the rural areas where electricity is not available at all times. They both have not worked with computers before and they will be trained in basic knowledge in operating a PC and in office programs as Excel and Word. It is expected that the training will provide a good outlook for a job for them.

The training programs are progressing well. Two students who suffered from malaria were absent for a short time, but now they are recovered and back on track. Both instructors and students are well motivated and work hard to get the best out of the coming months.

Building hostels at Luviri school

In January Eva Demaya Centre started phase 3 of the construction of Luviri Secondary School. This last phase concerns the building of two hostels were male and female students can live during their study.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This year there were heavy rains and the start of phase 3 was therefore a bit slow. The rains led to impassable paths to the site for trucks delivering bricks, sand and quarry. But in the months March and April the builders and labourers caught up on the original planning and progress is going on well.

 
 
 
 
 
The pictures accompanying this post give a good impression of the progress in the building process of the different buildings. Each of the two primary buildings can accommodate 75 young people, latrines, bathrooms and kichens are separate buildings.

Building activities are on schedule now and activities go quite smooth with the experienced workers under the supervision of the chief builder Mr Bosco Zgambo and with the coordination from the Eva Demaya Centre.

 
At the end of April the activities have not yet been delayed by any measures taken by the Malawian government due to the Covid-19-virus. One of these measures is the closure of all schools in Malawi. But it is expected that the new Luvirischool can open its doors as planned at the start of the coming school year, in September.

The Centre prepares to Covid-19

To fight the worldwide outbreak of the Coronavirus, almost all countries in the world take measures. This is also the case in Malawi. Jacqueline gives an update of the situation in and round the Eva Demaya Centre.

The Malawian government gave orders for a complete lockdown in the middle of april. Currently there is no complete lockdown in place, but people have to keep social distance. Social distancing rules are in daily practice difficult to keep, for the larger part of the population.
As a consequence of strict rules for public transportation, only very few people are allowed in minibuses and taxis, so prices of public transportation have risen enormously. All schools are closed as well as the lodges in the nature resorts. Almost no foreigners are left in Malawi.
Businesses and trade have also come to a complete stand-still, because working from home is very unusual in Malawi. Shops are mostly open, but there is little activity. Only the daily trade of fresh food is going on. It is a positive coincidence that people in the villages just harvested their crops, so there is no instant food shortage.

Not many infections with the Coronavirus are known in Malawi, but some official cases where reported in the north. It is expected that the numbers of infections are much higher in reality, because of the very limited testing that is done.
The hospital in Mzuzu is one of the few places where testing is possible.
The Malawian government and health systems have no capacity and possibilities to treat the Covid-19 affections. The official advice for health centres like Eva Demaya is to send patients with Corona-like symptoms to go home in self isolation.

The Eva Demaya Centre prepares as wel as it could to the outbreach of Covid-19 and to the announced lockdown. A large amount of medicines and medical equipment has been purchased. Also extra materials for the building project of the Luvirischool was purchased.

Another thing to anticipate is the fact that travelling is officially not allowed, except for essential (health)services, like the Centre is. All employees off the Centre have been provided a letter with their own data and the explanation that they travel for work. The employees of the Mzuzu office can work from home, occasionally.

The work on the Centre itself continues to go well. It is quite busy in the clinic, not with Coronapatients, but with Malari patients. Usually the clinic is provided with a standard medicin for Malaria by the government, via the Rhumpi hospital. These medicins are free of charge prescribed to the malaria patients.
Currently thes medicins are not supllied anymore, with no explanation of the government. This means the Centre used its own resources to purchase malaria medicins. Unfortunately, these medicins are more expensive and patients have to pay for them. The self supply sofar goes quit well, and the Centre managed to realize a small stock with these medicins.

The Centre also took some measusres against the virus. The maturnity has closed and weekly Vimbuza dances have stopped. In the villages the sport competition is postponed.
The vocational training is likely to start as planned, this training is on a small scale and can be realized with the necessary distance.

Finals of football and netball competition of 2019

The inhabitants of Northern Malawi cherish the tradition of sport events of football and netball. Each year the new competition is welcomed with joy and eagerness by the young people in the villages.In the dry season – when people cannot work in het fields – the sport competitions are a good distraction for younger people, who can stay active in a positive way. Some of them have the luck to be ‘scouted’ to work for an organization or club and can generate some income with their sport.
 
 
 
This year a total of 117 teams took part, 79 for football and 38 netball teams.The teams are drawn from the whole catchment area of the Centre, which for the competition is divided in 4 zones, namely Hewe, Msazisi, Luviri and Bolero.
The Eva Demaya Centre also delegates some teams from those working at the Centre, to the zone of Luviri. The teams in each zone play their own mini-league for both netball and football. Each league culminates in a zone final, which delivers the zone winner for the current year.

The 2019 winners of the football and netball competitions, respectively, are:
Hewe: Katowo Rangers and Katowo Rangers Sisters
Mwazisi: Lusani FC and Galang’anda Sisters
Luviri: Chirambo FC and Chankhomi
Bolero: Mbonekera FC and Mkama Sisters

The sport competition has grown so much over the years that it now takes serious organization and management to ensure its smooth operation. As an indication all teams play each other both at home and at the opponents home, which in total needs sometimes 400 matches in only one zone, to be played in 6 months time.
Each zone has its own organizing committee. The chairpersons of these zone committees collaborate in the main committee, in which also staff members from the Eva Demaya Centre co-work. All participating teams pay a small contribution towards organizing costs. The remaining costs are provided by the Centre with the support of its sponsors.
 
 
This year again, the organisers, players, trainers and coaches and referees together contributed to the excellent progress of the games. In one of the zones the final match was after prolongation and penalty’s after sunset still undecided. Referees decided to have the teams play an extra match, which delivered in the end the seasons winner

The matches and in particular the finals always attract a large number of spectators who are very involved in the matches and the players and their supporters contribute greatly to the festive character of each match.

Final building phases for Luviri school

There is still a lot of activity on the building site of the Luviri school. All the workers make their best effort to have most of the work ready, just before the rain season starts.
 
Two of the four staff houses have been painted, with plumbing work for bathrooms done and flooring ready. Also a brick sealer has been applied for the breeze blocks to look shiny. A lot of work is also done to dig 8 pit latrines for the staff houses and foundation for bathroom and kitchens have been done. Also the administration block is looking nice with his iron roof sheets and shiny brick sealer. And moulding of building blocks has stopped because there is enough for the remaining construction work.

 
 
 
Overall, progress is visible, and the expectation of a successful last phase of the project seems justified.
 
For the coming time, good coordination at all levels must be maintained including the good collaboration with donors, the government through Ministry of education for the advisory support as well as monitoring.

 
 
 
 
There has been a meeting between Jacqueline and Mr Moyo, the highest official of the Ministry of Education in the northern region of Malawi.
Subject in their conversation was of course the Luviri secondary school. The ministry of Education plan to open the school with the beginning of the new school year in August 2020. The number of students that can start, is under discussion.
 
 
 
It is quite certain that the school can start as a day school, with one class for students from the nearby villages.
But to have the school fully operational with more classes, students from the whole district should be selected. For their housing hostels are needed, for both boys and girls. Plans to build these hostels are currently studied by the Stichting Eva Demaya in the Netherlands, which is asked to provide funding.

With a little help, water for growing maize

Canaan Mkandawire used to be an employee at the Center, but is a farmer nowadays. He started growing maize, in the dry season. With a simple electric water pump that took diesel, he pumped water from the River to a pipeline that irrigated the maize on his land.

 
 
 
 
Unfortunately the pump was old and stopped working after a short while.
Canaan then asked people at the Centre whether they could help him. That request was honored, while he had already made al the preparations for the irrigation system, and the only missing object was a new pump.
So Canaan received an amount of €95,- from the Centre from their resources for community assistance and he consequently ordered his new pump.

His maize has grown well and he has resulted in a good harvest.

Canaan works as a ‘lead farmer’ in the area, which means that his methods for cultivation of the land and the growing of products can be seen as an example for other farmers. The purchase of the water pump to assure irrigation of the land can be seen as a good practice for other farmers in the neighborhood.

Second phase Luviri school started

In april the second phase of building activity started.
First two senior houses are to be built. These houses are in the last stadium of finishing, with roofing done, electrical wiring in place and plastering done.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
At the moment work on the administration block started. Window level to beam level and next to gable level is done and preparations for roofing are made now.
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

All building activities are quite successful, delivery of materials were always in good time, which is an enormous achievement.
Furthermore labor efficiency and teamwork of the builders is very good.
On the other side the project suffered from water shortages at the project site due to some villagers deliberately breaking the main pipe to serve their cattle with water for drinking. This problem has been sorted out by engaging chiefs surrounding the villages to discuss with the communities surrounding the project area.