Malawian Initiative for National Development (MIND) is an international development organisation. It was founded by Malawians In Aberdeen (MIA), an association of Malawians in the northeast of Scotland, in summer of 2007. The organisation was officially launched as a project by the Malawian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Dr. Francis Moto, and the Rt Hon. Jack McConnell, the former First Minister for Scotland, on 16th September 2008. MIND is a United Kingdom charity, No: SC040751, and works in close cooperation with Scottish Government and Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO). MIND is a Diaspora and Development charitable organisation whose mission is to formalize and coordinate volunteering efforts of UK-based Diaspora Malawians and use such initiatives to support the Malawi government’s socio-economic development efforts aligning with the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS).
MIND UK’s main areas of focus are: adaptation of the successful MIND approach and models for programme implementation among diaspora communities in the UK, advocacy for development led by MIND and fund raising for MIND programmes in Malawi. MIND has a fundraising Officer.
During the past two years, MIND has developed working partnerships with the Scottish government, Volunteer Services Overseas (VSO), the Diaspora Volunteering Alliance (an alliance of 14 Diaspora Volunteering Organisations in the UK linked with VSO), the Scotland-Malawi Partnership (SMP) and the Malawi government. MIND’s voluntary partnerships with these and other organisations have continued to grow.
Since its launch in September last year the organisation has been carefully working on the development tasks including programme planning and design culminating in the current launch of the pilot phase of the project. For instance in January this year the organisation’s Programme officers were in Malawi and carried out a needs assessment on MIND’s three main project areas of Health, Education and Secure Livelihoods. MIND personnel held detailed discussions with key government officials including Principal Secretaries for the ministries of Education and Economic Planning and senior officers at the Ministry of Health. Discussions were also held with organisations such as TEVETA, the Principal of Kamuzu College of Nursing, Director of College of Health Sciences in Lilongwe, Lilongwe Technical College and many others. A workshop was conducted where representatives from these organisations and other nongovernmental organisations attended. The outcome of the research exercise was twofold. First, the organisations identified the Needs where they needed input of skills by UK based Malawians. Second, the signing of placement agreements between MIND and these organisations where volunteers could come and undertake assignments.
At the same time as the Needs Assessment was being done in Malawi, a skills audit was carried out amongst Malawians living in the UK. The research confirmed not only that there is a huge and wide range of available expertise, but also willingness amongst Malawians to return to Malawi to undertake various tasks on a voluntary basis. The research was funded by DFID and supported by VSO.
The initiative is centred on skills transfer. MIND facilitates the involvement of those Malawians interested in helping in the socio-economic development of their country of heritage to undertake short term assignments in Malawi on a voluntary basis.
The pilot phase will involve the despatch of ten (10) volunteering recruits who will leave at different times in the month of November to undertake various professional roles in Malawi. The ten were carefully chosen following an assessment / interview exercise the organisation carried out of Malawians living in the UK. The group will work in close collaboration with the Director of Vocational Education and Training in the Ministry of Education, TEVETA and other key stakeholders in the Education Sector in Malawi. MIND aims at supporting current efforts on expanding vocational training access to rural areas and improving the provision for delivery of entrepreneurial courses to technical college students on campus as well as practising artisans.
MIND Diaspora volunteers will also work in partnership with the Ministry of Health, Malawi College of Health Sciences, Kamuzu Central Hospital, Bwaila Hospital and Kamuzu College of Nursing on issues of training and delivery of good quality health services.
The professional skills of the volunteers include
- A motor vehicle engineer who currently lectures in the field at a UK academic institution. She will work at Lilongwe Technical College.
- A registered Mental Health Nurse who will be attached to the Ministry of Health to be assigned to a health institution
- A registered Nurse and Ergonomist to be attached to the Ministry of Health
- A Health economist who will work at College of Health Sciences
- A registered Nurse and Senior Health Manager who will volunteer at Kamuzu College of Nursing
- A registered Nurse and Health Specialist who will work at KCN
- A curriculum development specialist who will work at TEVETA
- A Barrister and MBA holder who will work with staff members at College of Health Sciences
- An HIV advocate who will work with the Ministry of Health.