Lilongwe Rural District social welfare officer, Jean Nthengwe has called on Malawi Institute of Journalism (MIJ) students in Lilongwe to join hands with government in a bid to protect children from any form of violation of their rights either through abuse or by engaging them in hard labour.
Nthengwe made the sentiments when he addressed MIJ students on Tuesday, October 26, 2021 on the need to protect children especially street connected children saying it is possible to nurture street connected children and have them attain descent education that can improve their livelihoods.
She has said children are the most vulnerable in the society hence the media, being the fourth estate of government must take special interest in matters of children welfare as government alone cannot do everything due to many limitations -one of which is inadequate funding- citing her office got Mk6 million only funding for the current fiscal year-which is just a drop in the ocean if the country is really geared to improve the welfare of children.
“If children’s rights are not being protected, then they will be abused and violated in different forms, either physically, emotionally, sexually or socially. This calls for all stakeholders including journalists to join hands to protect children.
“If we join hands in this venture, we can create a country conducive to children. I must stress that our office has helped many street connected children and some of them are now graduates after we took them back to school and some are now running their own organizations. If we join hands in the fight for uplifting the welfare of children, together we can remove the street connected children from the streets and bring them back to school to start a new lease of life,” said Nthengwe.
Statistics from Lilongwe social Welfare Office shows that in 2020, Lilongwe rural registered over 4,000 cases of child marriages which is very worrisome development to the country.
“As a government, we are trying to establish more reformatory and child care centers where children who have behavioral problems would be sent for rehabilitation. Problems of funding impinge on the projects, no wonder we are yet to complete the construction of Mzuzu reformatory Centre.
“Currently, as government, we only have 13 Child Care Centers in this country. The rest of the child care centres belong to non-governmental organizations, which is not positive development. We have other juveniles who have behavior disorders without necessarily having criminal elements. These children are supposed to be rehabilitated in care centres and not reformatory centres therefore as government we need to have more child care centres,” she said.
One of the students who attended the public lecture, Memory Msatilomo, said she is impressed with what she has learnt as she is now able to differentiate what constitutes child adoption and trafficking in persons. She said there has been confusion in the sense some people engaged in human trafficking in the name of adopting the vulnerable people.
MIJ is running a project called Strengthening Child Rights Reporting (SCRR) with financial support from UNICEF.
In addition to the print story from the public lecture by Jean Nthengwe, there is also a five minute video summarizing the event. Enjoy watching it on this link……. https://fb.watch/8YZhDpDV-s/
By Priscilla Mzama and Gift Tembo