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).
Recently the Eva Demaya Sport competition, for football and netball, came to its conclusion. This year the Centre organised the competition to cover the entire work area, which was divided into four zones, with each zone having its own competition.
This was done because the teams taking part don’t have any transport facilities for away games and thus have to travel to these games on foot. Given that a zone can measure ten by twenty kilometres, teams still have to cover large distances travelling to away games.
A total of 92 football teams and 51 netball teams took part.In the remote rural areas of Malawi there is not a lot to do for young people. As a result, many young people live in each other’s pockets and find themselves involved in relationships at a young age. Unsurprisingly, many young people end up getting married and having children. This phenomenon in its turn means that it is hard to escape from the vicious circle of poverty.
Sport is a very important and very healthy diversion for young people. It does the heart good to see the enormous commitment the participants bring to these football and netball matches. Their seniors are also just as involved in these sporting endeavours and each team has its own network of committees and supporters around it; the football and netball coaches enjoy considerable prestige in the villages.
With the Eva Demaya Competition thousands of people were involved over a period of five months. Enthusiasm for the competition was huge, with each match drawing large numbers of spectators. Prizes for the winners were attractive for the young participants, who were able to use their prize money to buy football or netball strips and (second-hand) football boots.
The photos here show the finals in Mwazisi, which is about twenty kilometres from the Centre. About four thousand people attended, and as ever there was dancing and singing throughout: a feast for everyone!
The twins on this picture have a very special name; they are named after the founders of the Eva Demaya center. The children are 11 years old, are called Jacqueline and Johnfox and live approximately 8 kilometers from the center.
Jacqueline and Johnfox live with their grandmother. In Malawi it is normal that the grandparents look after the children, since children belong to the entire family. When the grandparents cannot or do not want to live by themselves, (a) family member(s) is selected to go live with them. The children can decide for themselves where they want to live, since the sisters and brothers of their parents are also seen as their mothers and fathers.
In Malawi everyone is one big family!
The Eva Demaya Centre has planted 600 trees on the grounds the last couple of weeks.
These trees are meant as firewood, since firewood is used every day for cooking. Due to the amount of children born in Malawi is higher than the amount of trees being planted, deforestation is becoming a big problem. A problem which is clearly seen on the mountains surrounding the center where many trees have disappeared these last decades.
In cooperation with the heads of the surrounding villages and the community, Eva Demaya Centre started protecting the hills around the center. Right now no more trees are chopped down and the hills are protected during fires. The results are visible to everyone and is very much appreciated.
However, we cannot protect all the woods and deforestation is still happening on a rapid pace; People need firewood to cook their daily meals! Therefore Eva Demaya intends to plant many new trees every year. These last weeks that were 600 trees, but hopefully many will follow!
Another project to protect the trees are the stoves which are being built at the center. To cook food this stoves only need half of the trees which are normally used to cook food. This way only little branches are needed which fall from the trees instead of chopping complete trees which cannot regrow. Since the beginning of the project over 500 stoves are built at the Eva Demaya center.
By spreading the Esperanza stoves in Malawi, deforestation is reduced!
A few months ago we started a clinic for AIDS patients at the Centre.
Every Tuesday patients can come to the Centre to receive their medicine. The medicine is provided by the Government via the district hospital in Rumphi.
It is customary in Malawi to give each clinic a name: people can then use the specific name of the clinic and so they don’t have to let slip that they are going to the AIDS clinic. The name given to the clinic at the Centre is ‘Thumbiko’ which is also a first name in Malawi that means ‘blessing’.
On Thursday 4th October we took our leave of Mr Kumwenda, the Centre’s traditional healer.
Mr Kumwenda was the first person, in 1997, who agreed to work together with me. He began on 2nd March 2002 as a traditional healer at the Centre, two months before the opening of the orthodox-medicine clinic.
It will be a strange feeling not to have him at the Centre any more. He plans to live in Rumphi where he will earn his living as a tailor and traditional healer. His farewell was marked with a Vimbuza dance festival.
Mr Kumwenda is succeeded by Mariette Kumwenda whom he has himself trained.
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.
Building work on the meeting room is going well.
It is a simple round design with plenty of windows and two large doors. Beside it there is a storeroom where we can keep things like chairs and tables. There is a parking area next to the hall.
Visitors to the Centre are directed to the hall and welcomed there. Every week we get at least one or two and sometimes several delegations or visitors. In addition, the hall can be used for meetings, get-togethers or training sessions.
The hall is 11 metres in diameter and can comfortably hold 100 people.
We will be making finishing touches to make it look as attractive as possible despite its simplicity.
The Dutch Embassy in Zambia has approved funds for the building of a meeting room at the Centre. This request was made through the Dutch Consul for Malawi, Mr Sander Donker.
This approval means that we will at long last be able to build the meeting room. Unfortunately, prices have shot up dramatically and, since the funds released were in local currency, the Kwacha, which lost a lot of its value after devaluation, we have had to adjust our building ambitions in line with what cash is available.
In any case, the building style will be in harmony with that of the rest of the Centre.
This space will be used for meetings, get-togethers, training sessions and for receiving guests.
Brian Smyser, an American Peace Corps volunteer, has managed to get funds from the American Embassy for our wood-saving stoves project. We have also been invited by the Embassy to come to Lilongwe with the young trainees who build the stoves (officially Trained Stove Installers) and there receive their end-of-training certificates.
The US Ambassador, Mrs Jeanine Jackson, handed out the certificates in person.
This was a tremendous experience for all these young people from around the Centre; none of them had ever been in the capital city before.