Posted by: rhoban | March 5, 2009

Day 4 – Village Outreach

Protecting Children in Malawi

Hear the story of Malawi Children’s Village by clicking here or here:

One of the reasons that Malawi Children’s Village works is that its director, Chakunja Sibale, saw that the program needed a presence in the villages where orphans live.

One sad reality is that many orphan children in Malawi end up becoming de facto unpaid servants – close to slaves – even in the households of relatives who take them in.  That includes ‘marrying’ off young girls to older men.  According to UNICEF, 39 percent of ‘married’ people in Malawi are between the ages of 15 and 18 – many of them are girls.

UNICEF's Stop Child Abuse Campaign is visible throughout the country

UNICEF's Stop Child Abuse Campaign is visible throughout the country

The problem is so prevalent that UNICEF started a “Stop Child Abuse” campaign .  No matter where you drive around the country, you’ll see dramatic billboards and bumper stickers displaying black handprints on a red background.

That’s why programs like MCV are so important to kids. Sibale knew his culture when he realized he needed to insure that the children under his care actually got what their guardians said they’d give them.  So, early on, he recruited several volunteers from each village to monitor the progress of the children.  72 volunteers receive a small stipend – ‘soap money’ – of about 3 dollars per month, a t-shirt identifying them as MCV volunteers and – most important – they are loaned a bicycle to use for commuting back and forth to their villages (they get to use the bicycle in other parts of their lives too, like to bring produce to market). Now THAT’S a big deal, in a country where most people walk and there are few motorcycles.

Sibale says monitoring the children using local people has insured that they get what guardian families have been given to support them.

Outreach worker Florence Mndala gets ready to go out to a village - carrying a scale on her head!

Outreach worker Florence Mndala gets ready to go out to a village - carrying a scale on her head!

Another part of village outreach consists of two outreach workers – Catherine Shabanie and Florence Mndala.  They travel a circuit of all the 36 villages where orphans are living with guardian families, teaching basic health education, monitoring child nutrition and health.

One morning we took a trip to a nearby village to check on orphans there. Check out our trip in this  small slide show.

In the past few years, MCV has also initiated a malaria prevention program in the villages.  The organization distributed donated malaria bednets to people in villages where orphans live – the families every child under 5 years of age in these villages received bednets.

Tomorrow we’ll find out what happens to older orphans involved with MCV.  But here’s a preview… Director Chakunja Sibale says Malawi needs more schools, more education.   Take a listen… (or if you have problems hearing the audio, try clicking here)

Comments? Send them to ncvoices@wunc.org

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