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Mzimba children applaud NGO for rescuing them from child labour

Some children from Traditional Authority (TA) Khosolo in Mzimba have commended Impact Centre for Economic and Development (ICEED) for rescuing them from child labour in the coffee and tea estates they were working in and offering them vocational training.

The children were speaking Saturday in Mzimba when ICEED, with funding from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), presented start-up tools to some of the 150 youths who completed a three months vocational training.

In an interview, 17-year-old James Longwe from Lunkhumba Village, TA Khosolo said he dropped out of school in Form One into one of the coffee estates in the district to escape poverty.

“Things were not rosy at home and I decided to look for a job to earn a living. I left school due to lack of financial support.

“When ICEED came looking for under aged boys and girls I was identified and offered a place at Buwe Technical College where I studied carpentry and joinery. I can now earn money in a conducive environment,” said Longwe.

Another rescued youth, Anile Banda, who dropped out of school in Standard Six due to poverty said she has worked at a coffee estate for two years.

“I left school in 2021 to look for work. Looking at where I come from, where we could sometimes sleep on empty stomach, I decided to leave school and find work to support myself and survive,” she said.

Banda studied tailoring and plans to launch her tailoring business.

Anile Banda (middle) surrounded by Inkosi Khosolo and Regional Labour Officer North receiving machine

ICEED Project Officer, Elvin Kalomba, said they are running a project called “Accelerating action in the elimination of child labour (ACCEL)” to rescue children from child labour and those at risk of child labour.

“Most of these children venture into child labour because of poverty in their families hence we thought by empowering them with vocational skills we will prevent them from being employed or engaged in child labour. They can start something of their own and make their own money,” said Kalomba.

Chief Labour Officer in the Ministry of Labour, Francis Kwenda, said the country faces a daunting task to end child labour because of poverty as most households struggle and as such send their children to work in estates.

Chief Labour Officer Francis Kwenda

“Currently child labour in Malawi stands at 38 percent, according to the 2015 National Statistical Office (NSO) survey. This is up from the 2002 survey which had child labour at 37 percent. Of these statistics, one percent of the children work in the agriculture sector,” said Kwenda.

He said the ministry is working with various partners such as ILO, tobacco industry players and other NGOs to end child labour.

Mzimba District Youth Officer, Yamikani Nyalugwe, applauded ICEED and ILO for empowering the youths with vocational skills which, he said, would help them become independent and self-reliant.

Inkosi Khosolo warned communities against offering children in estate saying he will punish every community member whose child or ward would be found working in estates.

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