In January Sanne left the Netherlands for a stay at the Eva Demaya Centre in Luviri for the next 6 months.
She is educated to be a midwife and enjoys her work in the Netherlands very much.
However she had a dream to do be a volunteer in Africa, so she contacted the Eva Demaya Foundation after which her leave came rapidly.
Now she is in the middle of what she calls a great adventure.
She assisted as a midwife in 6 deliveries and was even asked to give a name to some of the newborn, which is a great honneur!
In between she is working with the antenatal care and family planning and she already was leading in working on the improvement of some issues that up from the inspection of the Malawian Nurses and Midwifes council last January.
She also started to train some younger boys at vollyeball and she enjoys their enthousiasm.
Sanne will be at the centre for another 3 months. If you want to read more about her stay at Eva Demaya, see for her blogs on sanneinmalawi.reislogger.nl (in Dutch).
The last week of January my husband Henk and I visited the Eva Demaya Centre. As secretary of the Foundation I feel very involved in this project and I find it important to visit (at our costs of course) the project in Malawi to – also physically – keep in touch. After a visit like this, you have new inspiration to continue the work from Holland and to talk about the project from your heart, which is important in doing presentations on the project.
We were really impressed with the Malawian people who have to live under very difficult circumstances these months.
Because of the bad harvest of the maize last season, because of the sudden stop of the rains, people were unable to store food in an adequate way and they lacked income from the harvest. People suffer from hunger. You can see this at the children who not only look quite skinny, but also suffer from infantile eczema on their heads. Also a small change of the colour of their hear is sometimes visible, which indicates a shortage of vitamins and minerals. During our visit a common street view showed that many people were on the road to fetch a bail of maize, somewhere at a distribution post and to bring home these 50 kilo weighing bags walking with their bikes, sometimes over 20 kilometres long.
A spark of hope can be seen in nature at the moment: the rain season is going on and the fields look fresh and green and the new plants grow on the fields. And despite all problems, people are cheerful.
It is also great joy to see how the work of the Eva Demaya Centre has grown and expanded and how well the projects are executed.
During our visit we saw many aspects of the work done. We had a very warm welcome, the inhabitants find it marvellous to meet visitors. For us it was a wonderful visit in a surprisingly green surrounding during the rains.
Lore Thijs has recently visited the centre in Malawi.
While most visitors just make pictures of all the exiting things they observe, Lore made a very original picture diary. On this site only a small impression can be given of this beautiful diary (in Dutch).
At our reception of March 16, 2013 we have said farewell to a wonderful woman: Jose Batist. She has been involved with Eva Demaya from the very first hour. Jacqueline Kouwenhoven was present at this goodbye.
Together with her sister Jacqueline, José was the one who was already active for Eva Demaya in 1996. Together they looked for possibilities to set up a development centre in Malawi. Afterwards, Jacqueline continued her development work in Malawi, José focussed on activities in the Netherlands. In this first two years, the main job was putting the right people together to start and expand fundraising. Together with Dick Boutkan in 1998 José founded the Eva Demaya Foundation. José took a position in the board.
In 2005 she left her position at the board. However, she remained very active for the Eva Demaya Foundation. As one of our most active members, she took the lead in a lot of fund raising activities, like presentations and fairs, and she increased the awareness of our Foundation. In addition, she is one of the co-organisers of our yearly hiking tour. While the first tour in 2008 was only locally know, currently our hiking tour gains national fame.
Despite all the activities she (helped) organising; José has been an inspiration to members of the Eva Demaya Foundation. José always kept the aim of the Eva Demaya Centre in mind: maintaining a development centre in one of the poorest and neediest regions of the world: the north of Malawi.
The farewell of José as an active member is now final. But José promised to keep in touch and to remain being active as a volunteer. We thank José for her dedication in all those years and of course we hope to keep in touch.
We have a young volunteer currently with us at the Centre: Lily Wooles from New Zealand.
Lily, a student of political science and international development, is going to do research to measure the effect which the Centre has on people’s daily lives here. Doing research is a part of her study, and she will take between two and three months to complete her work.
Meanwhile Lily finished her research and left the Centre to return home.
Read a short summary of the results of her research, in which she concludes that the Eva Demaya Centre with her various projects clearly fullfills the needs of the community and that the Centre has a positive impact on her catchment area.
At the moment we have Arjen Pasma and his wife Joyce working at the Centre. Both are very impressed by the new homeopathy clinic and by how well the three Homeopathy Assistants are working.
Before them, we had another work visit from Karen van Leer. This was her seventh visit; her first was ten years ago.
In June we had a new homeopath, Gijsje Drost. Gijsje found being at the Centre a very positive experience and hopes to be able to come again.
Brian has now left Malawi and we were very sorry to see him go. He worked with us for almost two years as a volunteer and returns home to complete his studies. However, he will continue to contribute to the work of the project and the Centre.
Nienke Verhoeks, June – October 2010
On 6 June I was all set for my big Malawi adventure began. That was at least how it felt back then. At the end of it, it felt like leaving my second home to return to the first one! That’s the feeling you get when you’ve worked for 5 months as a volunteer at the Eva Demaya Centre.
Before leaving for Malawi I had made a point of not deciding beforehand what I was going to do in Malawi, chiefly because I was keen to do something that the local people themselves found useful – rather than import my own European views on what was good for them. This was just as well, as now, together with the local young people from the Mwalukavichi project, I have been able to create a proper library. This is housed in the building which Freek and Iris created in 2006. First we had to redo the walls and put in a new door in one of the two buildings, which should see the place through for another couple of years at least.
The collecting of books also went well. We signed a year’s contract with the local public library (for 1500 Kwacha – about £6) for the supply of 4 dozen boxes of books, with the promise of getting a chance of more if and when new book donations appear. I was also pleasantly surprised to get 6 boxes full of English books from a container sent to Eva Demaya from the Netherlands. And my parents, when they came on a visit, had also brought books. So now we have a total of 700 books in our library! Of these, we have 3 English dictionaries, 1 English-Chichewa-English dictionary, and 10 Form Four textbooks.
(note from JF: does she mean 10 SETS of textbooks? If not, which subjects?)
We also get a newspaper every week, as well as a Bawo game and a pack of playing cards, all of which get used. The library opened two weeks before my departure and since then 42 people from different ages have made use of it!
Apart from my work in the youth club I was active every morning in the nursery. Here I worked together with the three nursery teachers to give the children a solid foundation for their future primary school education. In practice this meant lots of morning activities in English and lots of singing and dancing. To the usual rota of activities I introduced two of my own:
1) An activity with sheets which a previous volunteer had left behind, introducing the children to new English words by means of pictures
2) Dividing up the group by age so that they could receive greater individual attention.
After 4 months they were able to do this by themselves, so the hope is that this approach will be able to continue autonomously.
I also gave English classes to the highest group of the Primary School as well as sponsoring netball tournament.
In summary, I can look back on a successful 5 months, months I will certainly not easily forget! And as the library is also my own ‘baby’, I will always feel an attachment to it!
Annemarieke van der Pols, April – July 2006
I’m Annemarieke van der Pols, aged 25. But for four months I went under the name of ‘Mzungu Annie’ – that was when I lived and worked at the Eva Demaya Centre. From Annemarieke to Annie was a short step, my new name being preceded by the inevitable mzungu which means white person. During these four months I did my best to contribute to the improvement in the lives of the local people in ‘The warm heart of Africa’, as Malawi is fond of styling itself.
I left for Malawi in April 2006. A large part of my time was taken up in trying to improve practical aspects of the local education situation. At the nursery, a sort of kindergarten, I taught the women working there some techniques for preparing the children for learning and provided them with learning materials. Since there were too many children in proportion to the materials available, I decided to paint the ‘lessons’ directly on the walls. Thus the nursery teacher would go from wall to wall around the room to get the children to repeat the alphabet, learn their numbers or play games designed to teach them colours and animals. A long-term project!
I also gave a course to a large group of teachers from the locality; this was to help them increase and diversify their stock of learning materials – again a major challenge, and, again, one with long-term benefits!
Another thing I got involved in was giving ‘lifestyle’ lessons to our teenage orphan girls who were following tailoring course at the Centre. These included things like how to manage money, relationships, sexuality, nutrition, health, family planning and AIDS.
We bought in large bales of clothes which we then sold at very low prices at second-hand markets we organised in the remote villages which normally never get the chance to buy clothes in this way – especially children’s clothes.
While doing all this I lived at the Centre, among the local population. Despite having no electricity or running water, no inside toilet or other luxuries you would expect to find in Europe, my situation was by no means as spartan as that of most of the people in the area. And not for one moment did it ever occur to me to complain about my living situation. People in Malawi typically have to live with huge families in small houses made of mud blocks, and have to survive on a monotonous diet of the maize which they grow themselves. Bad harvests lead directly to famine, with the weakest dying as a result.
What I found so special while living at the Centre was that the efforts of one woman (Jacqueline) have helped such a large area so spectacularly. The Eva Demaya Centre has come to mean work opportunities, healthcare, and thus an improvement in the general living situation for so many people. The famous symbol of the oil slick which slowly spreads out is, I think, the appropriate way to describe what is happening at the Eva Demaya Centre.
We’re delighted to announce that Jacqueline Kouwenhoven has received an honour from Her Majesty Queen Beatrix. This is the Dutch equivalent of the British M.B.E. award.
The presentation took place during an evening organized for donors and all those interested in the work of Eva Demaya on 10 November 2005. Jacqueline received the award in recognition of the healthcare-related
work she had done over the last 25 years in various African countries.