People in the country have been encouraged to pay attention to street children’s choices and voices in order to carry out actions that are in the best interest of the children.
This is according to a catholic layman association, Community of Sant’ Egidio which during the last weekend held commemorations of the day of the African Child at the House of Friendship in the commercial city.
The commemorations were held under the theme; ‘In pursuit of the African Child, Street-Connected Children Matter’ and was inspired by 2021 regional theme; ‘30 years after the adoption of the Charter: Accelerate implementation of Agenda 2040 for an Africa fit for children’.
Speaking during the event, Sant’ Egidio’s Coordinator for the Service, Dyna Tembo stated that the Community organized the event as one way of showing that they do not want any Malawian child to be left behind when it comes to child rights.
She said this year the Community decided to focus on street kids saying they are the most vulnerable, usually neglected without regret and that this was to encourage them not to lose hope, through a prayer which the children happily participated.
“We organized this event to celebrate with these street kids know that they are the most victims when it comes to child rights, so we wanted to let them know that we care about them. Further, the kids were cautioned against unruly behaviours that create prejudices that at times fuel neglect,” said Tembo.
In his remarks, social justice Activist, Alexious Kamangila, who volunteers for the Community of Sant Egidio, called upon child rights experts to do more when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable children, those in the streets.
Kamangila then worried that street kids in the country keep on facing numerous challenges and that it is shameful that some of the challenges are perpetrated by top government officials a thing he said should not be condoned.
He added that the institution has since dedicated the whole month of June as the month of the African Child in Malawi, to raise serious questions on the country’s failure to protect all children.
“As a country, we have a lot to do, especially for the most vulnerable groups of children, thus those in the streets and those with disabilities. Sometimes, even a Ministry meant to protect these children goes on adventure violating the rights, in the name of policy implementation. We call upon child rights experts to support our efforts,” said Kamangila.
A 12-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl who left the Blantyre streets for school, testified that if it wasn’t for Sant Egidio, their future would have been so dark and difficult claiming they were misbehaving in the streets.
The two said street kids venture into child prostitution, some are abused by men in the streets, some contracts sexually transmitted diseases, get pregnant and others died.
The day was full of games, dances, food and later, members of Sant Egidio visited some of the child-headed families and other children who are mostly neglected by their parents or guardians.