presentation by John Fox


Africa receives a lot of negative publicity in the world media. Drought, famine, disasters, civil wars, government mismanagement and corruption – all these ‘bad news ‘ stories combine to paint a picture of a continent that is beyond hope.

Yet there are plenty of initiatives in Africa which show that good things can also happen. John Fox presented the work of the Eva Demaya Centre in northern Malawi, established and run by his wife Jacqueline in 2001, and explained how this small-scale organisation, which gets its funding from the Netherlands, Scotland and Ireland and even Tirol, can make a big difference to the lives of more than 70,000 people.

The Centre’s main focus is on providing health-care, which includes general clinic services, AIDS information, counselling and treatment, ante-natal and maternity care. The Centre also helps the local community by providing orphan care, including the provision of vocational training to teenage orphans, providing blankets in the cold season to needy children and older people, paying school fees for poor but promising students etc. In addition, they build and repair schools, construct small bridges to link communities and generally listen to the needs of the community they serve when problems arise. Sometimes this means responding to an emergency such as food shortages or even famine. Eva Demaya also run programmes which protect the fragile environment and others which encourage Europeans and Africans to meet each other in a spirit of mutual respect for, and willingness to learn from, each other’s culture. Finally the Centre promotes sport as a healthy way for young people in the communities to channel their energies.

Mr Fox’s central message was two-fold: firstly, all people have a right to decent health care and education whatever their geographical location or skin colour; secondly, smaller independent initiatives have a greater chance of succeeding in bringing about meaningful development because they do not lose sight of their founding principles and their support base (friends, family, churches and local schools etc.). In the world of international aid and development, small really is beautiful!


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