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!
Maaike Batist, April – August 2007
For five months I, Maaike Batist, spent time at the Eva Demaya Centre in northern Malawi. This is a fantastic place
in a very remote area. In the course of my stay there, and after intensive contact with the local population it became clear to me that the Centre is of tremendous benefit to the people of the locality. Their gratitude for what is being done is enormous. As well as enjoying the country and its people, I was actively involved in two particular projects.
Together with a courageous HIV-positive local woman and a translator, I went around villages in the area visiting the women; altogether we made three visits to 13 groups of women. These women shared with me the details of their culture and traditions. For my part I taught them about the female condom, how a woman’s body works, and the facts about HIV/AIDS. Their very pertinent questions showed their lack of, and thus their need for, knowledge in these areas: and also showed their desire to learn and to change where appropriate. After a while it also became clear that what thee women learned had been passed on to their male partners, given that a report of my visits had to be made. During the final round of visits we handed out flyers (with facts about HIV/AIDS among other subjects) in order to support the women and encourage them to pass on their new knowledge to the men and children. At the end of my stay I invited all these women’s groups to the Eva Demaya Centre for a farewell get-together: this was a very festive occasion with drama, song and dance and also one where the gratitude of the women was very evident.
The second project I was involved in during my time at the Centre was with the recently formed Mwalukavichi youth organisation next to the Centre. The young people (16-24 year olds) of the area had come together voluntarily, together with two Dutch volunteers, Iris and Freek, to build a youth club office but there was still not much happening there and they had still not been nationally registered. This was no easy task, given the amount of paperwork demanded, such as the need for a bank account, something that in Malawi can take an entire day.
Then out of nowhere we received a visit from the Ministry for Youth Affairs from the capital, Lilongwe. They were so impressed by what they saw at our club that the registration process was speeded up. Being registered means a great deal as it will open the door to important benefits such as the provision of materials and training sessions.
As well as pushing for registration, we built a WC, organised a two-day training session from a larger youth organisation in Rumphi and had T-shirts made to do active educational work in the surroundings. There is a still a lot to do and I am for the moment still in contact with them, having left behind my mobile phone for this.
I would like to say a big Thank You to Eva Demaya and to Jacqueline for this fantastic experience! Truly unforgettable and not yet finished! Malawi still has a place in my heart!
Iris Siemons and Freek Verreijen, July – December 2006
In July 2006 we left the Netherlands together to spend six months in Malawi, working with the local young people.
This much we knew – we were happy to let the actual details take care of themselves, mainly because we were keen to listen to the needs there as expressed by the local young people.
We started by visiting, on our bikes, all the nearby villages to get to know the population and set up meetings with the local youth. From these visits it became very clear that the most pressing need was for a building where the young people could come together and where collective activities could be organised. This gave us our focus for action.
A youth club was thus started, run by the young people themselves. Together with them we organised an HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Taking HIV/AIDS as the theme for the day, we organised a variety of creative workshops and presentations for our audience of approximately 40 young people. But the young people kept pushing for the building of a meeting place, a desire we could easily understand. So, together with these young people, we began work on the Malukavichi Youth Centre. The building was ready on the day before the planned opening ceremony (and our departure) and we were all understandably proud of our collective achievement. A large part of the credit for the creation of the meeting point must go to the young people involved, to the builder from the locality and to the village headman. Given that the successful running of the centre will be in the hands of the youths themselves, we found it desirable for them to have an active part in its creation. And that is certainly what happened – nothing would come of the venture without their active involvement.
The time we spent at the Eva Demaya Centre was very special one for us. We are proud that we were able to contribute in our own way for six months and to have been part of the life of the Centre, by living here and by getting our hands dirty with the local young people. We got to appreciate the Centre as a place where practical help was given to a variety of people in many different ways. And this was all done with the greatest of respect for the culture of the Malawian people. In addition, Malawians themselves were closely involved in shaping the work at all levels. This is something that in our eyes is absolutely vital. After having spent half a year here, we can say with certainty that the Eva Demaya Centre makes a huge difference to the lives of many people.
Eva Demaya, Yewo chomene (Thank you! For giving us both such a special experience!