Mary Boloweza attended the AGM as our honoured guest from Servas Britain's 'buddy' group, Servas Malawi. She is at
present participating in a United Nations W ork camp as a. group leader.
Mary gave us more Information about Malawi in the early evenmg slot at the AGM.
Malawi is a country of 12.5 million people, where English is not the first language. Tobacco, tea, ground nuts, coffee and some other Fair Trade products are grown there.
After Hastings Banda died, Malawi had its first democratic system. But there was famine due to corruption and reselling food stocks outside the country. The second democratic administration jailed those who stole money and they are now paying it back. Malawi is now a stable democracy, with enough food.
However, there are serious health issues and a high death rate due to the lack of health centres, transport and medication in hospitals.
There are communication problems for Servas Malawi, i.e. few computers and telephone lines. Mary suggested that donations of memory sticks or money to buy them would be a good idea, as internet cafes are expensive and members could download e-mails onto a stick and view them locally later. Servas Malawi has at present about 30 members, mostly indigenous.
After dinner on Saturday at the AGM, Mary led a very ac.tive and enjoyable drummmg and song session. She taught us a peace song from Malawi.
Servas in Scotland have invited Mary for a visit in May before she returns home to Malawi in June. Bob Turner, regional coordinator, is organising a very interesting time for her, including a visit to Blantyre, the namesake of the Malawian town where she lives.
Servas Britain is keen to develop 'buddy' links with poorer Servas groups, as agreed at the SI General Assembly in Latina in 2006. Mary's visit, sponsored by Servas Britain, has strengthened this buddy link with Malawi. She has been a brilliant ambassador for the Servas Malawi group and we in Servas Britain have learnt a lot from her. We wish her all the very best and thank her for her contribution to the spirit of Servas.
Jean Seymour (081209).
What is Servas ?
Servas is an international, non-governmental, interracial peace association
running in over 125 countries by volunteers. Founded in 1949 as a peace
movement, Servas International brings people together to build understanding,
tolerance, and mutual respect.
Servas operates through a network of Servas hosts around the world who are interested in opening their doors to open-minded travellers who want to get to know the heart of the countries they visit.
If there is anything special that you want to see, just send me an email and I will get back to you as soon as possible.
If you are a Servas visitor and considering a visit to Malawi we would be most delighted to hear from you. I myself have travelled to Canada, England and Wales with Servas, and would be able to help you with all aspects of travel arrangements, local information and hosts.
As a Servas visitor you are probably interested in the local communities here in Malawi, and we will be able to make arrangements for you to meet different groups and (if you wish) to see or even take part in cultural activities.
Joining Servas and Further Information
If you would like to consider joining Servas either as a traveller or as a visitor host, then the best place to make contact is in your own local country. A good start point is the main Servas website which is at : http://www.servas.org/