Tikondane Care for Children decries negative publicity on street-connected children

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Tikondane Care for Children on/off the Streets (TCCS) – a Catholic-based charity organization advancing the welfare of street-connected children in Lilongwe – has decried negative publicity on the children on the streets.

TCCS Social Work Coordinator Bridget Chetama lamented that bad publicity on the street-connected children is frustrating efforts to reform and reintegrate the concerned children into society.

Chetama emphasizing a point with a picture–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu

Chetama made the remarks during a training the organization conducted to equip journalists and producers with child protection and safeguarding policy insights as they build up for the 25th anniversary in September this year.

During the training, TCCS also sensitized journalists and producers about street life and the responsibility society must take to address the ever-growing problem of street children.

Chetama disclosed that there are many push and pull factors that fuel children to flood the streets in search of means of survival.

She cited breakdown of family structures leading to divorce and separation in parents, domestic violence that has displaced the children, neglect among parents and guardians as they do not take their responsibility as primary duty bearer and ill-treatment of children by the parents as some of the factors driving children onto the streets.

“In some cases, socioeconomic hardships have made it impossible for the families to raise their children in the way they ought to. On the other hand, parents have been overwhelmed by behavioral challenges of own children,” she said.

A cross-section of the journalists and producers who attended the TCCS training in Lilongwe on Tuesday–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu

Sister Marie Sakina stated that while one the streets, the children interact with people from all sorts of backgrounds and are also involved in criminal activities such as theft and drug abuse.

Sakina said this exposes them to all forms of abuse and exploitation such as rape, sodomy, child labour and trafficking, drug abuse, bullying, insults, and being used by robbers, among others.

She appealed to journalists to help in raising awareness on the plight of the street-connected children to initiate public discourse on how to tackle the problem.

The 2020 findings indicate that Malawi had approximately 4, 000 children living on the streets of the major cities, with experts estimating that there would be at least 6, 000 street-connected children in the country by 2022.

Thus, in the buildup to the anniversary day, TCCS intends to conduct an awareness campaign in parishes and outstations to raise awareness on the plight of street-connected children.

TCCS was started in 1998 by the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa (MSOLA) in collaboration with the Catholic Archdiocese of Lilongwe.

Its mandate includes giving holistic care, protecting and empowering vulnerable, marginalized children, facilitating their re-integration in their families and school systems and advocating for their cause in fostering a spirit of justice, healing and reconciliation.

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