The Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) is an umbrella faith based organization for 130 members composed of 76 Evangelical Church Denominations, 54 Christian Organizations, and individuals joined together in the common task of holistically improving spiritual and social well-being of all people in the country. EAM is Non-profit Faith Based Organization established in Malawi in 1962 by missionaries with a primary objective of mobilizing evangelicals against the spread of liberalism, which was a major threat at that time. The Association was registered under Trustees Act (1969); EAM is a member of Council for Non-Governmental Organizations in Malawi (CONGOMA) and is affiliated to the Africa Evangelical Alliance (AEA), the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) and Public Affairs Committee (PAC). The operations of EAM have since focused on major social issues, such as health, good governance, food security and livelihood, disaster risk reduction, climate change, gender and human rights. The goal is establishing self-resilient and empowered communities proficiently controlling their own development process and achieving sustainable holistic change.
EAM is inspired by a vision of unified evangelical churches and organizations transforming communities and changing lives in Malawi. Its mission is to enhance the capacities of unified evangelical churches and organizations through mobilization and empowerment of their congregations/constituents for effective and efficient integral missions in Malawi
In 1999, EAM established an organizational Health Commission wing designed to solely focus on Health issues. It began with a program of breaking the silence of churches and church organizations to the AIDS epidemic. Since then, the department has run and initiated projects focussing on six health priority areas which are Sexual and Reproductive Health, Maternal and Child Care, HIV infection and AIDS, Hygiene and Sanitation, Nutrition and Malaria being implemented through the EAM member churches.
Supported by HP+, KFW, DanChurchAid and Norwegian Church Aid among others, Evangelical Association of Malawi is implementing Family Planning and Population related Projects in Karonga, Rumphi, Likoma, Ntchisi, Dowa, Thyolo and Nsanje Districts. The projects are targeting Religious and Community Leaders, other religious and community members with leadership roles, men and women of the reproductive age group, and youth of 10 to 24 years of age These projects are focussing on:
- Demand creation to Family Planning and youth friendly health services
- Increased access to Family Planning and Youth Friendly Heath Services
- Responsible Parenthood / Small Families
- Stop Child Marriages – Keep Girls in School
- Community Action for Transformation of Child Health
Line up activities in the implementation of these projects include
- Development of the EAM SRHR Policy.
Through consultation meeting with various religious leaders, and other stakeholders the Evangelical Association of Malawi developed a Policy on Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy aimed at providing a guidance to evangelical churches and faith based organizations in Malawi for active, and full participation in the teachings, designs and implementation of issues and programmes of sex, sexuality and reproduction that would accelerate the improvement of sexual and reproductive health outcomes based on doctrinal principles. Objectives of the Policy were:
a. Enhance accurate knowledge and skills among religious and church lay leaders at various levels on issues of sex, sexuality and reproductive health.
b.Facilitate relevant, effective and efficient decision making among religious decision makers and programme managers in addressing issues of sexual and reproductive health in areas of teaching, programming and service delivery.
c. Provide guidance in responding to issues of sexual and reproductive health that would demonstrate the relevance of practicing what the church believes regarding the promotion of a health living for this life
The development and launch of the EAM SRH Policy was followed up by various dissemination meetings involving various religious leaders, government and other stakeholders at National and Regional level. EAM has plans to roll out this exercises to the districts and community levels
- Building Capacity and Competences of various religious and community Social Groups.
Over the past 5 years EAM has been training various faith based and community social groups on issues of Sexual Reproductive Health focusing which included Family Planning and Youth Friendly Health Services. The five-day trainings were facilitated by district SRHR of Family Planning and Youth Friendly Health Service Coordinators from or recommended by the District Health Office, and EAM staff using both the National SRHR and Youth Friendly Health Service Training Manuals and Religious Health Guide Manuals. These groups included:
a. Religious and Community Leaders. In the past 5 years EAM has trained over religious and community leaders on issues of sexual and reproductive health which included Family Planning, link between n population and development and youth friend health services. The trainings aimed at equipping the religious and community leaders with knowledge and skills to teach their congregants and subjects on the issues covered in the training. The leaders also, after the training, were expected to initiate and facilitate church, mosque and community dialogue sessions on issues of sexual and reproductive health
b. Other religious and community groups with leadership roles. In addition to training religious and community leaders EAM also identified other men, women and youth with various leadership roles in churches, mosques and communities and trained them on issues of sexual and reproductive health which included Family Planning, link between population and development and youth friend health services. Training of this group aimed at providing them with adequate information and skills to support their trained religious and community leaders when conducting various sessions on issues of SRHR including family planning and youth friendly health services. These groups were also trained in older to reach out to various groups under their leadership with SHRR messages taking advantage of their regular forums. This was also done to promote peer to peer learning and sharing of experiences. EAM also identified other church, mosque and community members with specific assignments that were also trained on issues of sexual and reproductive health and given specific assignments in their specific places. These included a) Door to Door Counsellors responsible for providing family planning counselling and messages from house to house. This group was also referring clients identified during the visit to service providers, Faithful Houses responsible for testifying the importance for small families and Youth Initiators responsible providing SRHR counselling and messages to youths.
c. In and Out of School Youths. Evangelical Association of Malawi deliberately targeted the youth in schools, churches, mosques and communities to ensure that they had an appropriate adequate SRHR information to enable them make informed decisions on issues of sexual and reproductive health. The 10 to 24-year-old youths were being trained as peer educators expected to reach out to their peer youths with SRHR messages including family planning and youth friendly health services. The youth clubs were also holding youth open days in various communities where different activities focussing on Family Planning and Youth Friendly Health Services were being disseminated. Some issues focussed during these youth open days were child and forced marriages to address religious and cultural beliefs and practices that promote these.
d. Members of Fishermen Associations, and Women Business Association groups. Where fishing business takes place both men and women are busy either catching or selling fish with no time to attend to various organized meetings. EAM identified this group and trained the members on issues of sexual and reproductive health including family planning and youth friendly health services. This training aimed at empowering these groups with adequate information to be used when conducting their business. The groups are responsible for holding dialogue sessions amongst themselves as they conduct their business and help make informed decisions on SRHR services including family planning and youth friendly health services
- Establishing and support different youth groups focussing on Sexual and Reproductive Health issues. Apart from training youths on issues of sexual and reproductive health which included family planning and youth friendly health services EAM has been establishing and supporting activities of youth groups as an active and functional platform for promoting peer learning and support. The established groups are In school youth clubs for Primary and secondary schools together with trained school youth club Patrons and Matrons, Out of school youth clubs focussing on youths in churches, mosques and communities, Adolescent Girls clubs for girls of ages 10 to 20. These clubs also included girls that have had pregnancies in their teens referred to as Teen-Mothers. These groups are conduct weekly to bi-weekly activities in their respective clubs in addition to conducting outreach sessions. Messages are disseminated through drama, poems, comedies, choir songs, dances, debates, group discussions, quiz etc.
In the HP+ supported project in Nsanje EAM also has trained some of the youth groups in Theatre for Transformation/Development aimed at empowering them on how to perform an effective drama. Facilitated by the Nsanje District Youth Officer the 4 days training covered such topics as Process of Theatre for Transformation, Research for an effective theatre, Creating a story, Scene Development, and Elements of drama. Currently EAM is supporting 456 of these in and out of school youth clubs.
- Conducting Family Planning Campaigns.
EAM in conjunction with religious and community leaders has been conducting Family Planning and Population Campaigns in churches, mosques and villages. Apart from Population Sunday Campaign which focused on incorporating Family Planning messages during Sunday Worshipping services EAM also had been conducting week long Family Planning campaigns in the project implementing districts. The campaigns were stating at Group Village Headman level running through from Monday and closing with an open day rally on Saturday where various activities were displayed. During this campaign period EAM has also been involving various service providers in Family Planning and Youth Friendly Health Services like government and CHARM hospitals and Population Services International – PSI to provide various Family Planning and Youth Friendly Health Services to the people.
For more information about EAM go to EAM website