The January Focus - a one-page update about the work we are doing in Malawi appears below. You will see from our news that the end of 2012 and the start of 2013 has been challenging for us and also why this newsletter is somewhat late.
As ever, thank you for your support. Without your help, our work would be impossible.
Chimwemwe Focus Issue 11: January, 2013
Welcome…. To the Chimwemwe’s Focus for the month of January, in which we give you an update of what has been happening at our centre. We also give you news of what is currently happening in the lives of some children who were receiving support at the centre. We apologise for the delay in giving you our news, but once you have read our story, you will understand why. Once again, we thank you for your unfailing support towards the work we are doing here!
Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes – natural catastrophes of all kinds – have a way of making us feel helpless. We can do nothing to stop them. We can only do our best to avoid them and then pick up the pieces after they have occurred. The latter part of 2012 was full with what could be described as disasters in the lives of the street children who were receiving support at the Chimwemwe centre. Just a few months before the end of the year, Chimwemwe dismissed three employees from the organisation due to indiscipline: theft, abusing the children and dishonesty. The organisation also suffered bad publicity due to the dismissed staff, who falsely alleged that some of the children were involved in smoking marijuana and that some of the girls were involved in prostitution. A lack of resources at Chimwemwe, such as inadequate staffing and poor bedding also led to the centre having a poor public image. Due to these challenges, Chimwemwe centre was forced to temporarily close in order to renovate the building and improve the conditions for the children.
Chisomo, enjoying a meal at the Blantyre Flea market where Chimwemwe is providing meals to the children while they are waiting for the centre to re-open
In December 2012, the children who were receiving support at the centre were assisted to return back to their families and relations while renovations at the centre were taking place. However, some of the children had nowhere to go. Sadly, although the Malawi Government through the Ministry of Children, Gender and Community Development promised to assist the children by providing them with a shelter, nothing was ever done for them, leaving most of them sleeping in the streets.
Chimwemwe is currently meeting these children in the streets, providing them with a meal each day, and assuring them of the progress of the centre’s renovations. Currently, Chimwemwe has purchased seven new bunk-beds, sixteen new mattresses, and a female house-keeper has been recruited. Chimwemwe has also recruited a security guard. Chimwemwe expects that the children shall return to the centre by the first week of March, 2013. One of the children who cannot wait to return to the centre is six-year old Charles. Chimwemwe helped Charles and his brother Spencer to return back to their mother in Mbayani during the renovations. However, after a couple of weeks, Charles returned to the streets. While in the streets, Charles is reported to have been sexually abused by watchmen who take advantage of poor street children by enticing them through offering them a safe place to sleep. Fresh reports indicate that Charles has syphilis, a common disease in people who are involved in prostitution. Charles’ case is being handled by the Blantyre City Assembly in collaboration with the police.
Charles, showing a beautiful smile at the Chimwemwe centre before its temporary closure. Charles is one of the kids who are eagerly waiting for the centre to re-open soon
The case of Charles is a stark example of what happens to street children on a regular basis when no support is rendered to them. Charles’ abuse has caused the Blantyre City Assembly to request Chimwemwe to speed up its renovations so that the children can return as soon as possible.
Chimwemwe Children’s Centre