By Duncan Mlanjira
Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati has urged the general public to support foster homes, orphanages and other organizations that take care of needy children as opposed to giving alms to street kids.
Kaliati said this when she graced the Blantyre-Zomba Big Walk on Saturday, November 7 which NGO, Yohane Banda Foundation, organised to fundraise for the welfare of street kids.
The core mission of Yohane Banda Foundation is to work towards removing young beggars from the streets of Blantyre by offering them alternative means of survival and it conducts fundraisers to meet their initiatives’ financial costs.
And the Big Walk was also part of sensitising the general public from giving cash to street kids that encourages them to keep to the streets — benefiting from the begging.
Kaliati, whose one of the portfolios under her cares for good welfare of underprivileged children, said the support for such needy should be done modelled through what Yohane Banda Foundation is working on achieving.
“Give, yes but support the needy by doing it the smart way,” said Kaliati, who donated K250,000 towards the fundraiser and also walked 6.8km of the 57.5km route from the start at Mpingwe Sports Club in Limbe up to Mapanga.
“Giving alms encourages street begging and bad behaviors that they learn from [adult street smart] criminals.
“Parents should also take care of their children by keeping them in schools and that we should all work together towards withdrawing kids from the streets,” she said.
The Mayor of City of Blantyre, His Worship Councillor Wild Ndipo also walked the same distant 6.8km from Mpingwe Sports Club to Mapanga and other dignitaries included Blantyre City Council CEO and high profile members of the Asian Business Community — who donated K500,000.
On the day of the event — that attracted over 60 participants of all ages — managed to raise about K1.3 million and several pledges were made in the Foundation’s target to raise not less than K3 million for the cause.
Other sponsors included Kips Restaurant (K100,000); FG Investments (10 tshirts); Frost Premium (water refreshment, 10 tshirts); Mpingwe Sports Club (water, juice and sponsored two walkers with K20,000 each) while Paulendo Tours guided the walkers.
Oasis Designs did the posters while Blantyre City Council provided an ambulance for medical rescue.
Yohane Banda Foundation has made several initiatives and successfully managed to engage six kids away from the streets by affording them a home and integrated then into a private school.
Trustee, Yohane Banda said from the experiences they have had through interactions with the street kids, they perceive themselves as the most neglected and disliked members of the community.
He said they previously engaged 30 kids in Limbe who were being taught some art, literacy classes and other skills training but the program was cancelled after they were evicted from the location because the owners perceived the street kids as a threat.
The plan is to empower the kids’ homes by involving their parents in business and to offer startup capital while those that are 17 years and above shall be imparted with income generating skills.
The fund shall be sustained in phases — economically empowering the first 10 families and move to help an extra 10 and so on.
Yohane said they intend to engage the right authorities to hold the parents accountable for their children if they shall return to the streets and shall also work tirelessly with the police to take accountable on anyone who gives them alms because this is against the law.”
Yohane Banda Foundation was registered as an NGO in 2015 with a mission to empower vulnerable groups through economic activities.
Its executive director is Kondwani Mzumara with Lumbani Manda as the financial director while trustees are Banda, Sydney Zgambo, Bennie Manze and Kondwani Mzumara with Bennie Mande as general secretary.
Banda said 90% of the funding comes from the founders incomes and the remaining 10% from wellwishers and fundraisers such as the challenge to Zomba.