Kamtukule (L), Musician Nyago (C) at the LiFest cocktail on Friday
Deputy Minister of Labour Vera Kamtukule has commended LiFest Malawi for using the power of music to tackle issues of mental health and gender-based violence (GBV).
LiFest has organized the Lilongwe Music Festival to be held from 29 to 30 October in Lilongwe where Nigerian artist JoeBoy and Jamaica’s Christopher will perform.
Through the festival, LiFest is seeking to reach out to young people who are struggling with mental health and facing GBV.
Speaking at a cocktail which LiFest held for partners on Friday, Kamtukule said it is encouraging to note that LiFest is leveraging the power of music in bringing people together to tackle issues of mental health and GBV.
She said people of all ages are going through various issues amid the Covid-19 pandemic which has affected businesses and has led to loss of jobs.
“So, if we have a group that is mobilizing resources to help people who are facing mental health issues, I think that is something we should commend but also something that we should support,” said Kamtukule.
She further said that government is taking issues of mental health very seriously and is looking into the issue of shortage of mental health practitioners.
“I think in the next three to five years there should be a very big change. Access to mental health support is also expensive in Malawi and that is also one of the issues that we are trying to manage so that people can get mental health support in public hospitals,” she said.
LiFest project coordinator Mayamiko Kalumo said they are trying to bring a different approach in order to connect young people to the help that they need.
“There is stigma out there, people can’t go out there and be open to talk about what they are facing. We have heard a lot of stories of people killing themselves or hurting each other. So, we are just trying to use music as a common language to approach mental health but also gender based violence,” said Kalumo.
He added that using proceeds from the festival, the organization wants to construct a rehabilitation centre for youth facing mental health issues and GBV to have a safe space where they can seek guidance.
LiFest has also partnered Caring Hands for a program where people can anonymously seek help from professionals.
During the cocktail, musician Nyago was unveiled as LiFest GBV and Mental Health ambassador.
As a young girl, Nyago was forced into child labour and later as a young woman, she was forced into an arranged marriage where she suffered GBV. She overcome such challenges and her music speaks about her story of survival.
“The messages that I am carrying are strong messages. This is personal for me and my aim is to tell people that they are not alone, there are other people that they can talk to,” said Nyago.