Atlanta, (MaraviPost): The brainchild of Kantilal Desai, Hasmukh (H.P) Rama, Raman Patel and many others ten years in the making finally bore fruit and got together in Atlanta Georgia this week end, in a room full of proud Indian-Malawian friends who shared memories of beloved Malawi with Malawi Ambassador and Permanent Representative Dr. Perks M. Ligoya and H.E. Ambassador Edward Yakobe Sawerengera.
Malawian Indian Diaspora in Atlanta 2018 conference was organized by many who were born, lived in Malawi and had businesses at one time or another. Some were born in Malawi like Sanil Patel Deekay, now living in Chicago no longer practicing Law but has ventured into the world of Finance. Sanil still travels to Malawi and sees the hardships Malawians experience in their daily lives. Lack of effective everyday services that many of us in the diaspora are accustomed to and take for granted.
Talking to Maravi Post Hasmukh (H.P) Rama said it is their Emotional connection to Malawi that brought everyone together. His vision for the group is to see formal organization for networking and sharing of ideas on how they can help Malawi. Hasmukh (H.P) Rama said the group has Fond memories of Malawi. Even after running successful businesses in the USA they have not forgotten Malawi and they feel obligated to assist Malawi and Malawians in whatever way they can.
Hasmukh (H.P) Rama is Chairman of Auro Hotels which among its portfolio boasts such elite hotels as the Marriot, Hyatt, Delta and many more. . While talking to the Maravi Post Mr Rama mentioned that they have a University in India Auro University and they intend to provide Scholarships to Malawians.
In its inaugural the Malawi-Indian Diaspora Conference in Atlanta raised over $120,000 with promises for more. While the Ambassador was talking 1 Million Kwacha was pledged from Orlando Florida by amarat. V Patel. However one of the leaders of the group said the 1 million was not enough as it only converted to around $1,200. He was going to nag him to increase that pledged amount.
Raman Das who now lives in Houston but lived in Balaka, Malawi promised to pay costs for any container shipped to Malawi carrying any form of Aid Materials.
The group implored Ambassador Sawerengera to make sure the money will be used for the people who really need it most in Malawi. In his brief remarks in the evening Ambassador Sawerengera said Malawi is opening doors for Diaspora Investment to grow employment and provide educational skills for developments.
Kantilal Desai and Sawerengera were old friends. The Ambassador said to fight poverty in Malawi we need The Diaspora participation. Ambassador Sawerengera promises VIP treatment to everyone If and when they visit Malawi and as usual he had the room. The Ambassador closed his remarks by thanking everyone who was at the conference.
Malawi Ambassador and Permanent Representative Dr. Perks M. Ligoya in his remarks said he could sense that this was the beginning of a great things to come. Ligoya the former Reserve Bank governor said converting the pledged $120,000, would be equivalent of 90 million Kwacha. Dr. Perks M. Ligoya then turned to Davie Snr Wirima who was visiting from Malawi and works for the Finance Ministry that he had a good idea what this money means to Malawians.
Ligoya said the money pledged could be used to drill many boreholes that would improve sanitation in the water Malawians drink. Ligoya also said the money could be used to buy MRI machines currently not available in many Malawi hospitals. MRI machines are used to help diagnose or monitor treatment for a variety of conditions within the chest, abdomen and pelvis. If you’re pregnant, body MRI may be used to safely monitor your baby and thus are needed to help save lives.
In a lighter moment one of the organizers said they still had their passport which had a lifetime Stamp from Nyasaland. This then prompted Ligoya to remind H.E. Ambassador Edward Yakobe Sawerengera that Malawi should consider dual citizenship as many in the room would then find it easy to contribute to Malawi.
Ligoya also encouraged participants to encourage others who were not in attendance see how they can network to contribute to the development of Malawi. Ligoya also stressed that all contributions do not have to be financial in nature. From his past visit to South Bend Indiana he was reminded that Malawians in the Diaspora would like to be involved in the planning and formulating of policies. He told the group that many of them who had experience in the hotel industry can advise government on developing 5 star hotels along the Lakeshores of Malawi. Specifically he mentioned need to develop Cape Maclear for tourism.
Ligoya then to the amazement of the audience explained why Lake Malawi is referred to as the Calendar Lake because it borders 7 districts and is number of days in a year in Length and number of weeks in a year in width. The group was also introduced to Coordinator of diaspora activities at the Malawi Embassy in DC violet Skeva.
For now the Malawi-Indian Diaspora has plans to meet once every two years even though many encouraged them to shorten the intervals between meetings.
The big lesson to me was that a lot can be done when people with a purpose get together. Kantilal Desai and the group did not wait for government to lead instead they took the initiative and I agree with Ambassador and Permanent Representative Dr. Perks M. Ligoya that this is the beginning of great things to come