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.
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 HIV initiatives in most of its member churches and organizations out of a total conviction that AIDS is a universal and development problem. Therefore, the church could not continue ignoring participation in the fight against the epidemic, remaining silent on HIV and its related issues and maintaining the judgmental attitude towards those that are infected and affected. Through churches and church organizations EAM is managing HIV related programs which include: HIV prevention, impact mitigation and capacity building, guided by an HIV Policy which was developed by EAM after identifying the need to have such a policy applicable for evangelical churches in Malawi.
Supported by Health Policy Plus, Dan Church Aid and Norwegian Church Aid Evangelical Association of Malawi is implementing Family Planning and Population related Projects in Karonga, Rumphi, Likoma, Ntchisi, Dowa 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
Line up activities in the implementation of these projects include
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 an
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
Over the past 5 years EAM has been training various faith based and community social groups on issues of Sexual Reproductive Health which included Family Planning and Youth Friendly Health Services. The five-day training 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 religious and community leaders on issues of
sexual and reproductive health which included Family Planning, link between population and development and youth friend health services. The training 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 friendly health services. Training of these groups 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
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.
EAM also 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.
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 Worshiping services, EAM also had been conducting week long Family Planning campaigns in the project implementing districts. The campaigns were starting at Group Village Headman level running from Monday and closing with an open day rally on Saturday where various activities were displayed. During this campaign period EAM was also involving various service providers like District Hospital Family and Youth Friendly Teams, Population Services International – PSI and that were providing various Family Planning and Youth Friendly Health Services.
For more information about EAM go to EAM website