I first went to Malawi in the spring of 1998. I was immediately struck by the beauty of the country and the friendliness of the people.
However, my visit also revealed to me the horror of both acute poverty and the extent to which HIV/AIDS was ravaging the younger elements of the population. The next eighteen months brought home to me just how dependent are Malawi’ s largely rural people on subsistence agriculture and a single, unreliable rainy season. In this part of the world, there is an almost invisibly fine line between flood and famine.
In October 2000, I and a Malawian friend decided to open a small business in Lilongwe. Our main objective was to give employment to local youths, train them and pay the sort of reasonable wage that would enable them to live above the poverty line. Six years later, the business is still managing, just, to stay afloat, but it has had to adapt, to move out of unprofitable activities and to seize new opportunities.
The creation of Malawi Tomorrow in 2002 was the logical extension of my personal commitment to Malawi. At first, the Trust was content to provide funds to educate vulnerable children and to secure community based care for those that had lost their parents, more often than not to HIV/AIDS. Later, we raised our sights and decided to help rehabilitate damaged infrastructure, including bore-holes and bridges and a water powered maize mill – all in remote rural areas.
More recently, through the provision of scholarships, we have been focusing our efforts on the health and tourism sectors, both crucial to Malawi’s future in different ways. We are also playing a leading role in the development of links between the private business sectors of Scotland and Malawi, promoting the kind of enterprise culture that reduces dependency, instils self-confidence and offers young Malawians an opportunity to make the most of their undoubted talent.
I invite you to join Malawi Tomorrow in this challenging, but rewarding, undertaking.