Recently, an article about the centre in Malawi was published in a local newspaper. The article is written by journalist Paul Tembo and he is a sergeant at the Malawian Police Force.
Malawi has always has a special link with Scotland since the days of David Livingstone and in recent years that link has been strengthened considerably. In a parliamentary debate in February 2008 during discussions about the best way to deliver meaningful and useful development aid to poorer countries like Malawi, the Eva Demaya Centre was held up as a good example of approaches that actually work and that benefit the population.
The complete text of the discussion can be read on the website of the Scottish parliament; here follow some extracts of the discussion on 20 February 2008:
As we know, the country is marked by widespread and endemic poverty. On the United Nations human development index, Malawi ranks 164th and is the 14th poorest country in the world. Nearly two thirds of Malawi’s population live below the poverty line of $2 a day, 40 per cent do not have basic reading and writing skills and 14 per cent are infected with HIV/AIDS.
Those statistics shame us all. It is scandalous that the UN should still have to compile such indicators more than 30 years after the richest countries promised to allocate at least 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product to international development and when we are halfway towards the millennium development goals target date of 2015. In the 21st century, we have the knowledge, the resources and the ability to end poverty wherever it exists. I am pleased that the Scottish Government is showing some political will in that respect.
It is worth noting that despite the huge challenges that exist, Malawi stands as a proud member of the international community and chooses to work in partnership with our country and other countries to develop its economy and society.
Statistics tell only one side of the story. We must look beyond the bare facts for the human face of development. I have not yet been lucky enough to travel to Malawi, but a number of my friends and colleagues have done so, and they have told me about the challenges that its rural areas face. The people in its northern and southern regions often think that their opportunities are squeezed by the more prosperous central region. As an MSP for the South of Scotland, I can understand that.
I have also heard about the innovative projects and programmes that are making a real difference to people’s lives in Malawi. The Eva Demaya project, for example, is based 15 miles from the nearest tarmac road and the northern town of Rhumpi, and it relies on solar power for electricity and boreholes for water. However, a genuine partnership exists between a Scots-Dutch couple and the local community that is making a real difference to people’s daily lives. The centre provides a mix of conventional western treatments alongside traditional Malawian healing and homoeopathic methods. In addition, it provides food, decent clothing and employment opportunities in an area in which all three are in short supply.