Ten young people succesfully follow vocational training

This year Eva Demaya Centre offered vocational training to 10 young (19-25 years old) women and men. The trainees are chosen from the surrounding villages through their community structures such as community-based organization and village development committees with confirmation of the local chiefs. The selected youngsters all had neither formal skills nor tertiary education qualifications and had no means of sustaining their livelihoods, which gives them a prospect of being trapped in poverty with all its related problems.
The vocational training offered by the Centre is an exceptional opportunity for the chosen trainees to learn a profession which gives them the possibility to set up their own businesses. The training equips the students with skills and knowledge in order for them to be self-reliant with the skills gained.
Once the training is completed, the professional young men and women offer their vocational services to the community who in their turn benefit from it as clients having access to their business services.

This year Eva Demaya Centre provided vocational training in tailoring (to 4 women) and bicycle maintenance (6 men). The training includes an extensive practical part and a week-long course in business management, to enable them to set up and manage their own business. At the end of the full training every trainee receives a starter pack with all necessary tools and materials for them to set up their own business.
The tailoring courses lasted from April to end October 2022, and for bicycle mechanics there were two 3 month’s courses for 3 men each. After all the groups had finished the practical training, they attended together a one-week course in business management, which was facilitated by Mr Simbeye from Rumphi District, who works as a Community Development Assistant under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Disability and Social Welfare. The business training included topics such as general understanding and increasing knowledge in running a business, using production and quality management measures, product costing and defining selling prices, calculating profit and loss in business, importance of record-keeping and what marketing strategies can be followed.

This year’s programme did face some economical challenges, because of a cost-of-living crisis in Malawi all training materials and food items were suddenly very expensive. However the Centres employees managed to finish all the training programmes, without delay and without anyone dropping out, which is a great achievement.
Festivities for the certificate ceremony were sober this year, due to the financial problems. But in a formal gathering the tailoring students showed their own-made beautiful dresses while all students received their certificate and working package. And of course the group-2022 is immortalized on a picture…

Eva Demaya celebrates 20 years

On Saturday 6 November, the Eva Demaya Centre marked the 20 years of its existence in Malawi with a day of celebration at Luviri. The festivities included speeches, dances, songs and drama in front of invited guests, stakeholders and the people of Luviri.

The Covid pandemic meant that the festivities were more modest in scope than for the 10th and 15th anniversaries; it also meant that foundation members from the Netherlands could, alas, not be present.

But those who were present were able to enjoy this special landmark and appreciate the richness and variety of Tumbuka culture in its various forms. The speeches, from chiefs, health, education and social services officials who work closely with the Centre, highlighted both the challenges which the people face and the many successes which the Centre has achieved over the past 20 years, making the name Eva Demaya respected throughout Malawi.

It was pointed out that none of these achievements would have been possible without the talents, diligence and hard work of Jacqueline, her management team, the Board of Trustees, the Mzuzu staff and especially donors and volunteers in the Netherlands and their tremendous fund-raising activities during these past 20 years.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Baarnsch Lyceum donates school desks

In May a total of 50 school desks have been donated to 3 different secondary schools in northern Malawi.

The funding for buying these desks came from the Baarnsch Lyceum in the Netherlands, where students organized several actions to raise funds for charity purposes during Christmas time last year.
Their donations to the Stichting Eva Demaya was directly transferred to the Eva Demaya Centre in Malawi, where the Administration Office facilitated the purchase and transportation of the desks to the chosen schools.

De desks were purchased from Mapanga Furniture in Blantyre, who is the main supplier of school desks in Malawi. They have desks of good quality. One desk seats two students.
From Blantyre these desks were delivered to Mzuzu Administration Office and thereafter transport was organised to deliver the desks at the Centre in Rumphi. The Centre organised transport to deliver the desks to schools in Bembe (20 desks), Mwazisi (20 desks) en Lundu (10 desks). These schools were selected upon seeing that some students were sitting on the floor due to inadequate desks.
Needless to say the students and teachers are very pleased with the new furniture, which will certainly contribute to better learning results and to a better physical health of the students.

Eva Demaya Centre coordinates food distribution

In the catchment area of The Eva Demaya Centre a food shortage was unavoidable after last year’s crop failures in some regions. Malnutrition gives high risks on diseases and infections to occur, especially for elderly and sick people and for children. It is a large challenge to break this negative loop.
From December 2018 the Eva Demaya Centre targeted hunger prone areas like the Nkhamanga Valley, some areas that are in boundary with Vwaza game reserve and Nyika National park. In these areas communities are mostly affected by elephants that destroy crops during and after harvesting season.
In addition to this the vulnerable households were targeted most in need due to drought.

Eva Demaya Centre works closely with local structures like Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and Village Development Committees (VDCs) to select the targeted groups and the beneficiary, vulnerable households, including single parent or child headed households.
The exercise supported about 40 CBO’s and VDC’s, translating to almost 4600 people who received maize relief. Each CBO/VDC received 10 bags of maize. One bag of maize was shared among 3 people.
Maize relief distribution exercise was done in two phases in hunger months of January to March 2019. Project coordination was done by the Social Welfare Officer of the Eva Demaya Centre, Mr. Ephraim Kanyimbo.

The logistics to purchase and distribute the Maize , was a major operation. Firstly, staff members went to different communities with large(r) quantities of maize readily available to purchase some of their maize.
The Centre’s cars and motorcycles played a major role in transporting staff members to their meetings in both the providing and asking villages and also for transporting purchased maize to the stores at the Centre.
Due to poor roads, these cars and motor cycle have to undergo maintenance frequently, to keep them in good condition for continuous delivery of services in a safe way for drivers and passengers.
The actual distribution of maize from the stores of the Centre to the different CBO’s and VDC’s was done by lorries. The lorries were hired from a local transporter, and this distribution went well.

The Eva Demaya Centre sincerely thanks the Eva Demaya Foundation in the Netherlands for funding this important part of activity at the Centre. The assistance has gone a long way serving numerous lives of vulnerable people, particularly children who would have been malnourished and it has helped people to actively participate in developmental activities.