Scottish Church in Geneva Supporting Children in Malawi.
Supporting HIV/AIDS prevention and advice for vulnerable youth and young adults
Ekwendeni Mission Hospital is a major Christian medical centre in northern Malawi, close to the main North-South highway from Kenya to South Africa. The hospital coordinates an extensive programme of community health and prevention, including education on and treatment for HIV/AIDS, malaria, diarrhoea and malnutrition. It also runs a rural development programme, coordinating agriculture, spring water protection, well-building, income generation, child spacing, village health workers, traditional birth attendants, and women’s loan schemes. In 1998, with encouragement from the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh, our congregation financed the construction of the Youth HIV/AIDS Resource and Counselling Centre attached to the hospital. This independent centre provides HIV/AIDS testing and advice, social contact, lifestyle counselling, sports, and indoor games facilities, and outreach to many villages in the surrounding area through a large number of youth clubs and other community activities. We continue to support the operation of the Centre by financing the salaries of the supervisor (Shupo Kumwenda), an assistant and a night watchman. Over the years, our congregation has also assisted the Centre by providing bicycles and a light truck to assist access to the local community, building a “Summer Hut” where meetings can take place in shady outdoor premises in the hot season, financing repair and reconstruction of the hut and of the main roof of the Centre after severe storms, and more recently installing solar lighting and resurfacing the netball/volleyball court. Sports have become very important in providing occupation and stimulation for the teenagers and young adults served by the centre and in particular, the girls’ netball teams and young men’s football teams have become successful in Malawian leagues. Music and dance are also a big feature of Malawian life; the Centre sponsors a band which takes the message of HIV prevention around villages, and also has an active recording studio. Members of our congregation have visited Ekwendeni over the years, and friends from the Centre have also come to Geneva. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, visiting has been less possible; but we hope that a further visit may be envisaged in 2024. Malawi is one of the African countries where an HIV/AIDS reduction programme has been most successful. However, the disease is still widespread and the risks, especially to teenagers and young adults, remain high. Ekwendeni Youth Centre plays a key role in combatting the spread of disease and helping to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It needs our ongoing support.
Youth Resource Centre
Building on the work of the Youth Centre, one of our Elders and her husband have started a new NGO called “Nourishing Minds”. This aims to give schoolchildren in the districts served by the hospital a nourishing breakfast of maize/soya porridge every morning. So far, NM has built cookhouses in five schools, feeding over 5’000 children. Youth Centre members work actively in the gardens, which provide the porridge ingredients, and in building the cookhouses.