Malawi President Joyce Banda on Wednesday evening attended a prayer meeting organised by three prominent Austin Christian Churches at the Central Presbyterian Church in Texas, US.
The President who gave a 20 minute talk on the development needs of Malawi and how churches and faith-based organisations (FBOs) have aided Malawi.
President Banda recognized the important role that churches play in the development of Malawi.
Said Banda: “For centuries, churches and faith based organizations in Malawi have played a key role in offering assistance to the poor and the marginalised, both as short-term aid and as long-term programmes for social development.
Owing to limited resources in the 1900’s , FBOs particularly, churches concentrated on building hospitals and clinics, schools and training healthcare workers to improve access to affordable health and rehabilitation among the people of Malawi”.
She said churches and FBOs continue to compliment Malawi Government’s effort in providing various services to the people especially in rural areas especially in the sectors of health, education and good governance.
“Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM), churches and faith based organizations in Malawi run a total of 172 health facilities across the country. Recent studies have shown that through their 172 health facilities FBOs provide about 40-50 percent of health care in Malawi. These facilities serve as outlets for primary health services for at risk population such as children and pregnant women,” Banda said.
The Malawi leader emphasised that churches and FBOs contribution towards the education sector is targeting rural, hard to reach areas and their long term sustainable presence in an area.
She noted that in Malawi about 35 percent of the education services are faith based.
“For instance, 50 percent of university education [in Malawi] is provided by FBOs,” Banda said.
On good governance, President Banda recognized the efforts made by the church in Malawi’s political transition from colonialism and one party State to multiparty and democratic State.
“During the transition from colonial political system to self-rule in the late 1950’s at the height of dictatorship by Malawi’s founding President, it was the Catholic Church through their pastoral titled Living our Faith’ and other faith based institutions like the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) in 1992 that helped to among other things spearhead the transition from one party to multiparty.”
“PAC played another historic role between 2000 and 2002 when they gallantly fought for the respect of the Malawi Constitution following attempts by Malawi’s second President to unconstitutionally extend the ten year mandate with an open and third term in office,” she said.
Banda later attended a reception in her honour at the St. David’s Episcopal Church. During the reception, the President spoke of her work in helping women attain economic empowerment through her Market Women Activities in Development Initiative that provides small loans to women.