By Duncan Mlanjira
Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati will participate in the Blantyre-Zomba Big Walk on Saturday, November 7 which NGO, Yohane Banda Foundation, has organised to fundraise for the welfare of street kids.
Kaliati joins Blantyre City South Constituency Member of Parliament (MP) Noel Lipipa as well as Blantyre City Mayor, Councillor Wild Ndipo as solidarity.
Yohane Banda, who is one of the NGO’s Trustees, said Kaliati was approached to see if she could sponsor one of the participants but after seeing that this noble cause falls under her portfolio of Community Development and Social Welfare, she opted to be part of the event.
Banda said this is a huge boost in their effort to raise a minimum of K3 million they initially planned for.
“We really are thankful of what these three high-profile people have done by supporting us by being on the ground itself,” he said.
When he expressed his interest to be part of the Big Walk, Lipipa had said he felt it duty bound because, as MP for Blantyre City South Constituency, he is in direct contact with such street kids and feels something ought to be done on their increasing numbers.
The core mission of Yohane Banda Foundation is to try and remove young beggars from the streets of Blantyre by offering them alternative means of survival and conduct fundraisers to meet their initiatives’ financial costs.
MP Lipipa said he has always harbored same ideals that these young beggars ought to be removed from the streets but that can only be achieved if they are, indeed, offered alternative means of survival.
Lipipa also observed that lately the population of street kids in Blantyre City has increased.
The Foundation says interested people to take part in the Big Walk and are free to do any distance of their choice. They can register at a fee of K10,000 and get a fundraising form through contacting 0888 222 921/0885 499 749.
Donations can be deposited to National Bank account name: Yohane Banda Foundation; Mandala Service Centre; account number 1005624122.
Yohane Banda Foundation said the Big Walk was also part of sensitising the general public from giving street kids cash that make them remain on the streets benefiting from the begging.
He said the 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.
“They were rehabilitated and still are under rehabilitation,” he said. “It’s now a year as four of them were taken in July 2019 and two in October 2019.
“We managed to keep four students in colleges and three students in secondary schools.
“We had 30 Limbe street kids who were coming for drawing, literacy classes and other skills training but unfortunately the program was cancelled after we were evicted from the location because the owners perceived the street kids as a threat.”
From the experiences the Foundation had through the interactions, the street kids perceive themselves as the most neglected and disliked members of the community.
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 will be sustained in that after we have economically empowered the first 10 families, we will move to help an extra 10 and so on.
“Through the authorities, we shall hold the parents accountable for their children if they shall return to the streets and we 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.
It’s 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.