Prison Fellowship Malawi (PFM) has rolled out an initiative that intends to assist children whose parents are ex-prisoners or are currently incarcerated in prison.
The initiative dubbed Children of Prisoners project (COP) will ensure that children under the age of 12 are given education bursaries until they finish their secondary school education.
According to Chimwemwe Magawa Kondowe who is the program coordinator of the initiative, PFM appreciates the shame and challenges that children of prisoners face in their communities.
“It’s quite difficult for these children to be accepted by their communities once their parents are imprisoned. They face various forms of torture and it’s really hard for them to cope up with life living under such traumatizing conditions,” she said.
For a start, the program will be implemented in Balaka district and some parts of the Southern Region before it spreads across the country.
To ensure that there is transparency and accountability in the selection of beneficiaries, Kondowe said PFM is doing a comprehensive screening exercise to identify the right beneficiaries of the bursary.
“We are very strict on the selection criteria. Our wish is to make sure that we touch the right people. Therefore, we have partnered with various stakeholders like the police and social welfare office to help us establish the right beneficiaries. I can assure you that there is no shortcuts in this program,” Kondowe emphasized.
The program will see 50 beneficiaries from September this year and plans are that the number will triple to 150 by July 2020.
The program is being financed by Prison Fellowship International (PFI) to the tune of $20,000.
With its secretariat in Balaka, PFM is an affiliate of PFI and it opened its doors in Malawi in the year 2001.
Its core function is to restore and rehabilitate in the smooth integration of prisoners and their families.