Tiawanese eviction can affect up to 50,000 patients in the Mzuzu area

The big worry today in Mzuzu is the potential aftermath of the severence of ties with Taiwan in favour of a new diolomatic relationship with China. The Tiawanese are departing rapidly, bringing their personel and equipment with them. The 41 year relationship has come to a very abrupt end.

Judith Moyo, writes in the Nyasa Times on 22 January, 2008

Malawi’s recent severance of diplomatic ties with Taiwan will have devastating effects on the people of northern Malawi as government does not have contingency plans on the management of essential services, Nyasa Times has established.

Staff at Mzuzu Central Hospital is worried as to what will befall the patients as well as the HIV/AIDS programmes following news that the 20 Taiwanese medical experts are leaving the facility.

“We have been told that the hospital will have to scale down on the number of patients’ intake from the district hospitals because the Taiwanese specialist doctors who operate most of the medical equipment are leaving one by one.

“We haven’t been communicated to by the Ministry [of Health] as to what will happen when they [Taiwanese] finally leave,” said a source from the hospital’s administration.

Taiwan, in 2001 funded the construction of the only regional referral hospital in the northern region, Mzuzu Central Hospital.

The medical facility also operates an HIV/AIDS program in Mzuzu City that includes a therapeutic follow-up, which relies on a monitoring electronic system developed by the Taiwanese.

The region has very limited health facilities and the hospital is responsible for providing 40 per cent of the city’s primary in-hospital health care services and its HIV/Aids program benefits 7,900 patients with ARVs in the city. The program extends to over 70 local clinics in the region with a reach of over 50,000 patients accessing the services.

The Taiwanese have been sent packing with the end of diplomatic romance with Malawi who has roped in Mainland China.

Another project in the region affected is the Karonga-Chitipa road that has since stalled following the divorce of a 41-year diplomatic marriage.

Chinese Embassy Charge d’Affaires Fan Guijin could not commit his country on the medical personnel despite inheriting the Karonga-Chitipa road which the Chinese say will finish two years earlier than Taiwanese planned.

China pledged to support Malawi in its efforts to develop its economy when they established formal ties.

Ministry of Health officials could not provide clear answers on how government plans to replace the medical experts at Mzuzu Hospital.

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A kind of a newsletter!

Coffee Morning
The Garvey’s held a coffee morning in Frank and Agnes’ house on December 8. When we arrived the place was all set out with enough goodies to feed a Malawian village for a week. Colette was beavering away as only she can.
I met people from the parish I hadn’t met before and got a chance to talk about Malawi for hours!!
The welcome was great, the food was excellent, the talk was inspiring and the result was an amazing €1225 for Malawi, and all of it will get to the villages, where it will change lives forever.

New Recruits
Every day Wells for Zoe makes new friends, none more so than Trev and Alan. On Dec 21, I met them in the George Bernard Shaw on Richmond St, No, not for drink, but to collect a load of money.
These are two of our amazing younger generation, who visited Malawi during the summer and were involved in the Lake of Stars Festival. They found time to pop down to our projects in Mzuzu, were impressed, and got into action straight away. One of them, Donal Gorman wrote a full page article that was published in the Sunday Business Post. Alan swam from Howth to Dun Laoghaire and raised €970. Amy Colley gave us all her photographs and Trev presented me with €1210, the proceeds of a magical night in the George Bernard Shaw. What’s next? Well, a gang of them will swim Lough Ness in March 2008 and deserve any support you can give them. I’m told if they find the monster, Wells for Zoe will get all film rights to the story!!

The Calendar
The New Year brought our first Calendar, 2008 for our nearest and dearest supporters. Eamonn produced, and put us all under extreme pressure, none more so than Amy Colley who has two stunning months, putting Harisen Amin, Richard Carter and John Coyne in the shade.
The production shows real pictures from the villages, with stories to match.
Rave reviews are coming in, and maybe we will do a few extra next year, for fundraising.
Amy Colley is an excellent portrait photographer in Dun Laoghaire and is open for business. To view some smashing pics from Malawi click on http://flickr.com/photos/amycolley/sets/72157602374531181/

Home Volunteer
Something which has become onerous and full time over the past few months, seven-day-a-week stuff, is the office work.
Thankfully, help is at hand. Marie Kehoe has joined us as our first administrative volunteer. On January 14 she begins a new career with the Wells for Zoe madhouse!!
It is her intention to be a very serious volunteer, getting out to the heart of things in Mzuzu as soon as possible. She is a very welcome addition to the troupe and we look forward to great things.

New Arrival
Harisen and Charity are expecting their second baby in March. They already have Fatima who is six. I think six going on sixteen at least. When I asked her recently what she would like me to send as a present, she said a bag and chocolate – every girl’s dream no matter what age (is a school bag a bag?).
Charity is having a bit of a difficult time, so our prayers are with her.

DIT
The student group at DIT are finalising plans for their trip. They’re planning to leave on March 18 for two weeks on the projects. More news as events unfold.

Ian Sutton
One of our summer volunteers, Ian and girlfriend Mirian, have got a contract with the French Red Cross in Haiti. Ian says: We have an interesting project: water supply to a number of small villages and a coastal town from two spring sources in the mountains about 17km away.
Despite all the bad press there are amazing young people out there.

The Album
Eamonn is working in New York until Jan 14 and then flies to Compass Records in Nashville to finalise the line up for the upcoming Wells for Zoe Music Album. Before I looked at the 2008 calendar we had hoped to launch on March 22, World Water day, but Easter Saturday is not the best, so we are looking for a date in early April.
Sinead O’Connor has already recorded the John Waters/Tommy Moran track
“Baby, Let Me Buy You A Drink” (of water), while another new track, written and recorded by Karine Polwart called: “Dig a Little Well for Zoe” is a real beauty. Salsa Celtica, Kris Drever and Alison Brown are also set to feature. As they say, watch this space!

Minister fails to intervene on witchcraft reports

Malawian villagers have great fear of witches, because they might put a curse on them. I always tell them I am much more afraid of snakes, than witches.
In today’s Nyasa Times Judith Moyo writes:
Some primary school pupils in Kasungu district are suffering silently due to government’s failure to deploy teachers to their schools due to wild witchcraft practices, Nyasa Times can reveal.

Sources have said teachers are reportedly refusing to be deployed to most schools in the district for fear of the alleged witchcraft practices and government is reportedly doing nothing to solve the problem.

A Primary School Education Advisor in the district told Nyasa Times the issue was reported to the Deputy Minister of Education Olive Masanza a long time ago but nothing is being done so far.

“For instance, there is a school called Chigampha Primary which has over 650 pupils but with only two teachers, a headmaster and his deputy,” said the source, who refused to be named.

“Teachers are shunning the school because of the witchcraft being practised by the community there. This issue was reported to Masanza long time ago but she has done nothing, not even visiting the school to appreciate the problems the two teachers and pupils are facing,” she explained.

According to the source, the teachers have even stopped concentrating on their work because of perpetual fatigue and the pupils normally go to school to play and not learn.

“How can two people teach eight classes a day? This is unheard of. Sometimes they only teach one or two lessons a day if not any at all. Moreover, most of the times the pupils just play until knock off time. What type of pupils can you expect to have then?” wondered the school advisor.

Kasungu District Education Manager (DEM) could not be reached for comment as the office telephone was reportedly out of order.

When contacted Masanza said her office had no information on the issue. She said however, she would follow up the matter.

Malawi Police warns on blood suckers

Ruby Suzgika on 10 January, Nyasa Times

Malawi Police Service has dispelled growing fears in the eastern part of Malawi that there are vampires sucking people’s blood.

It is rife in the districts of Mangochi, Machinga and Balaka that blood suckers are on the loose in the districts.

Recently, an angry mob in Mangochi torched a vehicle after suspecting that the owner was a vampire.

However, Malawi Police public relations office said in a statement that people should not panic as they on alert to provide their safety and appealed to the public to report to the law-enforces if they have evidence of a blood sucker.

“Any person who has evidence about these stories should report to police so that police officers can investigate with professionalism,” said a statement from Police.
The law enforces warned the public to desist from taking the law in their own hands if they suspect someone to be a blood sucker.
The Police have also appealed to the people not to spread stories of blood suckers as they were creating despondency and breaching peace in the society.

The stories I hear are usually about witches: this is a new one.. It is NOT April 1.

What will Malawi learn from Kenya?

‘I will do a Kibaki’, says Malawi leader
Nyasa Times Jan 4, 2008

President Bingu wa Mutharika has praised Kenya’s ‘illegitimate’ President Mwai Kibaki and insinuated at Malawi’s opposition parties promising to apply what he described ” Kibaki tactics” during the 2009 general elections in order to hold on to power.

A source who attended Mutharika lavish New Year’s party organised for his relatives and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials at Sanjika Palace on Monday, heard the President talking to Minister for Presidential and Parliamentary Affairs, Davis Katsonga and acting DPP Secretary General, Hetherwick Ntaba.

“After getting sloshed, the President was loudly heard telling [Davis] Katsonga and [Hetherwick] Ntaba that he is resigned to do ‘a Kibaki’ in 2009 polls,” said our source, opting for anonymity.

The Malawi leader chose Malawi Electoral Commissioners – charged with the task of holding a free and fair 2009 general elections – without consultations with the opposition parties, a move aimed at having commissioners who can easily be twisted by his orders.

The opposition Malawi Congress Party [MCP] and United Democratic Front [UDF] cried foul and obtained an injunction restraining Mutharika from swearing in the commissioners for clearly breaching a constitutional provision.

The High Court Judge Healey Potani is yet to pass a ruling on the matter.

Kibaki, sworn-in for another presidential term in Kenya’s disputed polls, did a similar move by single-handedly appointing a 22 man electoral commission which has failed the democratic process plunging the country into turmoil.

Mutharika – a product of rigged votes – expects stiff competition next year’s polls from formidable candidates in MCP’s John Tembo and UDF’s Dr Bakili Muluzi – former two-term state president.

Malawi is expected to hold presidential and parliamentary polls in less than 17 months time but stakeholders have complained of poor preparations and lack of levelling the playing field with public radio and television favouring governing party.

The Malawi Electoral Commission currently has only one commissioner, Chairperson Justice Anastasia Msosa, whose term expires this year. The Commission currently has no meaning, as it cannot make any decisions sanctioned under the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act, which requires seven commissioners to form a quorum.

“The remaining two commissioners had their term of office expiring in November. This means we only now have the chair. Once their terms of office come to an end, the commissioners stop working, that is the position now at the commission,” Chief Executive Officer David Kambauwa told Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee last month.

The Commission has failed to hold by-elections in many constituencies as they fell vacant due to lack of the required numbers though the Constitution provides a window period of 60 days for the same to be held after falling vacant.

“This is why the commission has not conducted by-elections up to now, it is because of lack of a quorum. Everything being equal, we were supposed to hold the by-elections after the funds were provided in July 2006,” Kambauwa said to the Committee chaired by Respicious Dzanjalimodzi and deputised by Aleke Banda who expressed concerns.

The only major preparatory work for the 2009 general elections is registration of voters due to start in April.

Meanwhile, Malawi government chief spokesperson Patricia Kaliati, has described as unfortunate Kenya’s post-election ethnic violence that has since paralysed the east African nation and so far claimed over 300 lives of people.

Kaliati has since urged Kibaki and the one whose victory has been allegedly stolen, Odinga to find a lasting solution to the violence before more people lose their lives.

Speaking to the state radio, MBC, Kaliati said elections were supposed to be source of inspiration and not conflict as is the case in Kenya.

She said it was sad that hundreds of innocent have died in the ethnic clashes between Odinga’s followers and Kibaki’s supporters, mainly his tribesmen, Kikuyus.

Kaliati said it was the responsibility of the two leaders to ensure that they reach an agreement and immediately stop more bloodletting as the chaos is also affecting other neighbouring states.

The minister then Malawians should also learn a lesson from Kenya by loving one another as the nations draws near the 2009 general elections.

“This is a message to the continent that when conducting elections we have to conduct in a free and fair manner,” she said.

Political parties and civil society groups in Malawi have since sent a timely warning that the Kenya violence should serve as a wake up call for the authorities as the nation gears up for next year’s general elections. (Additional reporting by Josh Ashaz)

Is Africa all about Money? No

I feel that there are two great problems in Sub Saharan Africa, aids and aid, with the latter having the more serious impact, creating a kind of learned dependancy leading to a sense of helplessness and hopelessness.
I know that I am very new to Malawi, but I read in a National Malawi newspaper,recently, that Malawi gets poorer by the day.
In fact, after fifty years of trying and €500 billion worth of aid-giving, with little rise in living standards in Africa, I can, as they say rest my case. Advocates of aid talk about cheap solutions like the 10-cent salts that would save a baby dying from diarrhea , or medicine that saves someone dying from malaria, or the 5 cent tablets to clean dirty water. Yet despite the aid money coming in by the lorry load, two million babies still died from diarrheal diseases last year, more than a million still died from malaria, and 1.1 billion people in the world still lack clean drinking water.
It would not be an outrageous assumption to make that all is not well with the Aid Business and that it needs to become less aid and more business(like). Obviously, money alone does not solve problems. What is needed instead are business, social, and political entrepreneurs who take responsibility for what they say they will do, rather than create more and more exotic slogans, that help to raise yet more money for ineffectual aid bureaucracies. Entrepreneurs would be accountable for results, in contrast to the aid bureaucrats and rich country politicians who make promises, that they rarely keep, and for which no one holds them accountable.
Seems to me! that Aid money is often given for grey area funding with little auditing and follow up. Soon Ireland will be donating, on behalf of it’s taxpayers, 1000 million euro to developing countries, who will check to see how well it is spent?.
I listened to the 2007 Michael Littleton Memorial Lecture delivered by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and entitled A Transforming Africa; Opportunities and Challenges, on RTE 1 on Dec 31, and was heartened by her analysis of aid and how to apply it.
In conclusion she said “Africa is open for business”.
Private enterprise has had many successes throughout the world, as a method of of escaping serious poverty, and it is patronizing to suggest that it can’t work in Africa.
I can see no reason why the spirited women I work with, in Malawi, should be condemned to be the helpless dependants of rich donors from the developed world. They want to work, they want their dignity and they can cope with freedom of choice: constantly giving them something for nothing is only confirming that they are already dead.
I feel that this may be the time to invest in Africa, and maybe investing in the women of Africa would be the brightest financial decision you ever make.

New Year Resolutions

What a wonderful World, on a good day

As part of the promotion of our work in Malawi and in order to give rural Malawian people a voice and a face, I try and publish a daily Blip on the website http://www.blipfoto.com.
This site allows anyone to publish a picture each day, which is taken on that day.
This is not as simple as it seems: Harisen Amin takes wonderful pictures anywhere he gets them, usually in the remote villages in which Wells for Zoe operates, in Northern Malawi. He downloads to a memory stick via an old laptop and IF the internet is working he spends, sometimes hours, getting the picture to me.
Snail mail is fast out there.
On a good day technology is magical and our best friend, in that Harisen can take a digital photograph in some of the remotest places in the world, connectivity wise, and an hour later the world can see what village women are doing thousands of miles away. What a wonderful world ON A GOOD DAY.
To day, one of the family of blippers wrote a piece on the notion of New Year resolutions which, with her permission, I will share with you.

I’ve been thinking about New Year Resolutions like most other people do and I don’t think I have ever kept one yet!

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be someone else altogether. Sometimes I would like to be someone else altogether!
I have never pretended to be anything other than what I am – I don’t have a “telephone voice”, I don’t treat one person differently to another and I would never make an actress. I don’t put on any act, I just am what I am.

If I make a resolution I shall probably set myself up to fail but I am at least going to try.

I am going to try to be less; to be more moderate; more restrained; not so “full on”!

I wish I wasn’t so sensitive and easily hurt and I wish I wasn’t so outspoken and didn’t jump to conclusions too soon. Sometimes it’s a good thing to act spontaneously but not always.
I wish I didn’t feel emotions so intensely – excitement, anger, despair, inspiration, nostalgia, loneliness, impatience, enthusiasm, humour, fun. I’ve experienced them all to the extreme; reached the depths and the heights. I often think it would be so much easier to be less passionate about things but then I think – if I did I would only feel half alive!

Some people I know find it difficult to express what they feel – it’s never been a problem for me, much more likely the other way round!

I don’t think this resolution is going to last very long!

Happy New Year!

I felt I had to reply as follows

I really love the picture.
Again the words are amazing, could I possibly use them in my blog today on the wells for zoe website: you write so well.
I love the passion in your writing. The world needs passionate people, who are brave enough to be themselves (certainly in Malawi).
You sound like my kind of person, without the moderation or restraint. I feel you are singing my song, but I have no intention of changing.
As humans we are easily hurt. We pass over compliments and often dwell on the negatives.
My answer is to surround myself with positive people in so far as I can. Not those who say yes, but rather think about it
They enable me to be me.
You need to be yourself and only work on the negatives like loneliness, despair and maybe nostalgia. All the excitement is in the future.
Have the New Year you wish for and hopefully now and again I will remind you of who you are, an individual, unique and wonderful creation.

If you would like to See the pictures she takes and the words she writes please go to http://www.blipfoto.com/view.php?id=90095&month=12&year=2007