Friday, 29 June 2018

21 Year Old Youth Hails YONECO Internship Programme

YONECO’s Youth Development Programme was designed to prepare young people to ably fit as leaders and enable them to positively contribute towards the development of Malawi. Thus, in thois programme area, YONECO also established a Youth Internship Programme whereby young graduates from various tertiary institutions are recruited to gain hands-on experience.

The story of 21-year old Vita Mithi is one of positive outcomes of the youth internship programme. Vita joined YONECO after obtaining his Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health from Livingstonia University. Vita’s internship was for six months, a period which he calls “a transition stage from a young graduate to an employable and responsible youth”.

During his tenure as an intern, Vita was imparted with knowledge on various practical aspects of work including; facilitation skills, community mobilization, as well as case management.
“I was motivated by the way YONECO operates and I knew that passing through the institution will help me in terms of gaining more knowledge and skills”, said Vita.

 “This prompted me to apply for internship at YONECO with the hope to learn what really transpires on the ground, as well as giving out the knowledge that I had acquired from school in my field of study.” Explains Vita.

Apart from having a hands on experience, Vita was also given an opportunity to support other young people and he contributed positively to the development of other young people as well.

Mithi was also tasked to handle computer lessons that targeted young people at YONECO’s Drop in Centre in the district so much that over 20 young people benefited from his services.

Soon after his internship, Vita got employed by World Vision and below were his parting words; ‘As an intern, you get exposed to various things within the work environment - internship is a very important journey which young graduates should go through. I am now very confident that I will be able to perform.’

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Drug and Substance Abuse as a Survival Tool: Where the Youth Miss the Point

Apart from the escalation rate of unemployment and bulging population in urban areas in the country. Young people should be able to rise up, wise up and sense up the sole goal benefit of self-reliance and self-sufficiency.

Since independence, we were made to believe that education would attain us better employment and earn extra exorbitant remuneration packages. But, today, the reality is far from what we expected - a paradise in psychological limbo.

Young people both graduates and non-certificated ones are all struggling and they are finding hard to survive. A cross section of young people belonging to various youth groups are financially dependent on their parents or guardians. Frustrations and agony lead them to find ‘refuge’ in using hard drugs and cheap liquor. These are the substances which are locally available in the streets: marijuana, liquor, glue ect. Disappointment after being let down by girlfriend, changes in their socioeconomic status or just a bad moment in everyday business. Despite the fact that these are temporal matters that could be solved by other means and the last one being resorting to drug and substance abuse.

One could question that this dependency syndrome is it drug abuse first and the syndrome second or the venture is interchangeable. It is important for parents to give hope to struggling young people who are addicted to drugs and substances so that they should see the light at the end of the tunnel and find a reason to quit.

Too much drug abuse tarnishes the vision of prosperity. I as a once-addicted survivor, I had lost hope as I was staying with my parents. I almost resented virtues of academic brilliance and progress to achieve great things in life. Long term plans like building my own house and investing in certain business ventures seemed pointless. The following are quotes which many young people used to break free from the cocoon of drug and substance addiction.

o   “I got sick and tired of living the same way day-in-day-out, until a sense of sobriety flashed my mind like lightening”. In its crystal light, I decided to take Total control of my life.

o   “I can pull myself together and willingly achieve better things in life”. That drew my focus and made me to have an affinity of being creative in everything I do. I began to pay attention to sound advice and people who had and are killing it big time.

o   “Stop brooding about trivial things which do not amount to your vision and strategy”. I had to make a decision and surely I did.

o   “Assert yourself in readiness to change and to represent yourself”. I decided to clean myself up and free my soul to be vibrant and independent.

o   “Reflect on positive values more often”. I realized that negativity will take me nowhere and it was true because a few days after focusing on positive vibes, I was a different person all together.

On last thing: Keep on listening to Total Turnaround Radio Programme on YONECO FM every Saturday evening between 19:30 – 20:00! 

The Blog was written by Mabhuchi Nyasulu - A Counsellor as well as Presenter and Producer of Total Turn Around Radio Programme 

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Women, ‘How are You Today?’

The world today needs to take stock of what has been achieved in the promotion of women’s rights and their participation in political, social, and economic spheres in the past 41 years.  This stock taking exercise being proposed here begins in 1977, the year in which United Nations General Assembly invited member states to declare 8 March as the UN Day for Women’s rights.

The question we need to ask ourselves is on whether as an individual, Civil Society Organization (CSO), and governments have really contributed towards attainment and realization of women’s rights at various levels. This is a battle that started long time ago even before the actual International Women's Day (IWD) was proclaimed by the UN and its member states.  

Narrowing this issue to Malawi as a country, I can see a commendable progress. There are some areas we have tremendously done well while some aspects still need to be accentuated. It may not be fair to use a relative measure in terms of finding out how Malawi has performed in terms of promoting women’s rights and welfare. Malawi and many other southern African countries had serious challenges that emanated from deep rooted patriarchal tendencies that were inherited from the ‘ancestors’. Thus, comparing where we are coming from and what we have done so far is a clear indication that with effort and sustenance of the current momentum, we will achieve!   

According to the current Malawi Demographic Health Survey (MDHS), the country has an average of 4.4 children. This is a decrease from 6.7 children per women in 1992. This represents a dramatic decline of 2.3 children and translates to improved health and welfare of women in the country. Further to this, the enactment of the Gender Equality Act, Marriage Divorce and Family Relations Act as well as other gender-related laws really prove how serious Malawi is in its efforts of trying to achieve gender equality. Malawi once had a female president who was voted as a presidential running-mate and became president after the death of the then incumbent President, the late Bingu Wa Muthalika. Let us also note the progress in terms of university selection at the University of Malawi whereby the 2015/2016 intake shows that a total of 1,919 students were selected to pursue various courses. This is a move away from the time when a very few females had a chance to reach secondary school.

CSOs in Malawi also deserve a pat on the back for raising awareness about women’s rights, women empowerment initiatives, spearheading the war against Gender Based Violence (GBV) and many other commendable efforts. CSO should really be applauded - ‘Ending GBV starts with reporting GBV’ and YONECO’s toll-free Gender Based Crisis Line is there to fill this gap. It helps to ensure that women have a confidential alternative reporting mechanism. Further to this, the line is a source of information as well as a tool where women access psychosocial counselling on GBV. GBV awareness campaigns that have been conducted across the country have contributed to increased understanding of women’s rights so much that women are now able to voice out their rights. 

Despite the numerous milestones, there is also a need to acknowledge that GBV is still prevalent in the country and in 2014 USAID included Malawi as one of 35 GBV priority countries due to the high rates of child marriage in the country. Women’s participation in decision making processes is still a challenge and the country is still grappling with the problem of child marriage.

This year, the World is commemorating the #IWD under the theme; Time is Now, Urban and Rural Activists Transforming Women’s Lives. This theme befits the current efforts in women empowerment programme by various players. 

The International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. Let us further remember that the fight for women’s rights is not a once off activity and let the fight continue after the commemoration.

Further to this, women should be given more spaces. Sometimes we may feel we are making positive strides while we are creating new problems. For instance, we can increase the number of women in politics but then their meaningful participation is the democratic processes could be limited. This is why there is a need to understand that it is more than just the figures.

This is your day: women, how are you today?  

Monday, 22 January 2018

The Fruition of Meaningful Youth Empowerment Interventions in Mangochi.

By Esnart Priminta

Whoever thinks that the youth are incapable of bringing about positive change in their communities should properly examine this claim.  This entry is based on positive outcomes of youth empowerment initiatives that really technically refute the misguided view of young people as individuals who are wayward, irresponsible, na├»ve and defiant.  

YONECO strongly believes in the youth. The institution looks at young people as capable human beings who are dynamic and able to contribute positively to the development of their society. For quite some time, the youth have been sidelined in different decision making processes and even denied access to critical information. This has led to a lot of young people making uninformed decisions which have led to negative outcomes in their lives and to an extreme extent, this has costed their lives. The environment has not been friendly for youth development.

 In countries like Malawi, a lot of young people have suffered the cruelty of the world in the hands of socio-cultural norms and beliefs.  All these things have in one way or the other contributed to the overall stagnation of development in the country. HIV prevalence rate among the youth is shockingly high, with an increased rate of child marriages which is currently at 47%, increased teen pregnancies and school dropout rates among other things.

In 2016, YONECO with funding from Simavi embarked on a programme called Get Up Speak Out (GUSO). The five-year programme is aimed at contributing towards ensuring that all young people, especially girls and young women, are empowered to realize their SRHR in societies that are positive towards young people’s sexuality.

Justin Yusuf who hails from Nankumba, which is YONECO’s GUSO project impact areas, said young people are now able to take active part in different developmental activities as well as voicing out their rights
“YONECO organized a training for community leaders and young people in Meaningful Youth Participation and I was one of the young people who attended the training.

“After the training I went back to my village and held some discussions with chiefs and other community leaders to start considering young people in various community development processes. As I’m talking to you now, I am an influential member of the Village Developmental Committee.” 
Yusuf further stated that currently there are 4 young people in the VDC a thing that has greatly contributed towards ensuring that young people’s needs and aspirations are considered in the formulation of community and district development plans and activities.

“Older community members are now appreciating the role which young people are playing in the society,” said Youth Network Chairperson at Nankumba – William Phiri.  

Among other things, the youth have managed to lobby for the establishment of two under five clinics so that children can be accessing medical services easily as was not the case in the past. Young mothers were unable to travel long distance to access postnatal care services but now, this issue is water under the bridge.

According the Youth Network Chairperson, youth involvement in developmental work has also increased their access to sexual reproductive health service. The change has come about dude to the fact that they are now able to take up issues and engage the right authorities to address the issues.  This has further nurtured young people’s commitment in taking care of their reproductive health and there is hope that by 2020 the issues of child marriages and teen pregnancies will be history in his area.

Yusuf said “As young people, we know that we have a greater responsibility of developing this nation. GUSO project has helped to stimulate our action towards improved SRHR and other essential services.

He continued to say that increased uptake of sexual reproductive health services will ensure that young people are protected from unplanned pregnancies and contracting sexually transmitted infections and HIV.

“At first parents would not allow their children to access SRH services and use contraceptives but after the training we reasoned with them and are now able to appreciate the need for  us to access SRH services. Even chiefs are now taking an active role in fighting harmful cultural practices and socio norms that bars young people from accessing SRH services,” said Yusuf.

As if that is not enough, Yusuf added that they have now planted tree seedlings as one way of dealing with issues of climate change. He said they are now able to coordinate and collaborate with different organizations and networks and currently a construction of a bridge is under way which will help ease the challenges people were facing particularly during the rainy season.

Yusuf thanked YONECO for still believing in young people and equipping them with the necessary information and the needed skills. He said as the youth, they are planning to do more to improve their communities as time goes.

“Let me also take this opportunity to ask my fellow youths that we should utilize these kind of opportunities and not wasting them. We are leaders of today and tomorrow hence the need for us to be proactive in whatever we do,” concluded Yusuf.

GUSO Project is being implemented by a consortium of 6 organizations that formed what is called the Malawi SRHR Alliance. Apart from YONECO, other implementing partners are; Centre for Alternatives for Victimized Women and Children (CAVWOC; Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR); Centre for Youth and Civic Education (CYECE); Family Planning Association of Malawi (FPAM); and Coalition of Women Living with HIV (COWLHA. The project is being implemented in Chikwawa and Mangochi district where YONECO is targeting T/A Mponda and Chimwala. 

Lessons from YFM Roadshows on GBV in Mulanje

by Esnart Priminta 

Communities in Mulanje district have condemned the tendency of some men who sleep with their step and biological daughters.

This was revealed during roadshows that Youth Net and counseling-YONECO conducted in the district in raising awareness on gender based violence during the 16 days of activism against gender based violence.

According to one Mr Jabu who patronized one of the shows, men threaten their daughters to stop giving them support if they refuse to have sex with them.

On the other hand, women conceal the truth when they find their husbands sleeping with their daughters for fear of losing their marriage and the support they get from them.

Another girl from Mathambi in the district confessed of a certain family where the man sleeps with his 15-year-old step daughter but threatened the woman not to reveal to anyone saying this might lead to his arrest and the family will suffer which she obliged to.
However, this behavior is risking the lives of many girls said Mary Deston.

Deston therefore commended YONECO for conducting the awareness campaigns for this has made them to understand the gravity of the behavior and know where they can report the cases.

The shows were conducted in different parts of Mulanje including, Mathambi, Namphungo, mwanakhu, Namphungo, Mkando, Chinyama, Likhubula and Chinyama among other places. Different artists performed during the shows as one way of entertaining the audience and keeping them active throughout the shows. The artists were Blaze, Stich Fray, Phil Jay and Katelele Ching’oma.

YONECO conducted the roadshows with financial support from Action Aid through Christian Aid under the project Adolescent Girls and Young Women-AGYW.

Saturday, 6 January 2018


By Mabhuchi Mujuma Nyasulu

Doll drumming over the years of drinking and smoking heavily. I discovered that ‘Urges’ are an invisible bad and ugly company to be-friend with. The worst thing is they make you dance to their tune and end up doing what you don’t want to do. 

Contrary to the mental independence of Young people, The Youths in particular, Malawi. There are, a - don’t want to be forced to do something - but rather, the subject to be brought around the table were they discuss in groups and express their opinion and experiences. I am glad to say that after the desire of freedom enters in my heart of change, this is how my mind balances my life style in overcoming ‘Urges’.

v  Doing exercise @ Home or go to the gymnastic;                                                                        whenever my heart is confronted  with the thirsts to smoke, my mind tells the ‘Urge ‘company to flee from me and do a 40 – 40 press up or else I get angry Go jogging.
v  Drinking something non-alcoholic;
My substitute to Cannabis it’s what I love to called Avocado syrup. It is a traditionally known as Chindongwa, Thobwa or Mahewu.The drink grows better when it ferment with pounded vegetable ital. fruits in it like Bananas and Avocados.
v  Take a shower or Laundry;
The consequence of adhering to ‘Urges’ is they don’t just frown your face they also spoil your pillow. Your Pillow is where you lay your head all night long.The very places were the mind rests, having a spare clean Pillow and Stockings is important.
v  Cooking Something Interesting;
My ‘Urge’ of smoke are totally dissolved with my favourite African Potato dish, which  heart yearns and it is served with a well boiled goat brown stew and mashed Irish potatoes.
v  Getting to watch a Video;
My ‘Urges ‘are now wrestled with my love to watch Educational movies. Inspecting the loop holes in the movie and my desire to raise the standards is esteemed. I have no doubt that it will make the world of wonderful counselling more serene.
v  Take a drive;
I have come to realise that to be uplifted in a tri - cycle, motor bike or motor vehicle. Time passes swiftly as if you are meditating. The mind is made to be active as if its introduced are new to the mother earth. The joy of riding in tales the life of an overcomer. The comfort it brings looking through the window as if the mind is browsing through the moving environment, I have no doubt that it’s healthy for the brain.
v  Have Sex;
The benefits of having sex  are that it eases stress; may make prostate cancer less likely; lessens pain; improves sleep; lowers heart risks; count as exercise; boost libido and  helps immune system humming. Though it’s considered a taboo by tradition.
v  Getting a haircut or Manicure;
I have managed to label my bold head hair style, Zero. When I look at the mirror I do admire myself and so my friends tell me so. I feel better than the illusions of the mind that are triggered by ‘Urges’.
v  Starting a woodwork project;
Apart from looking for a job, I do have a narc of designing anything which I see and call it lovely. Probably that how I was inspired to design my YONECO tie. With the few days I have worked at the Town drop in centre have seen children coming to eat and immediately off they go. It is necessary to launch a hands on project which transform the mind of street kids to do something positive in their life.
v  Go to the Library or book store;
Books they have an open arm of transforming the mind to be stable. Learning something new every day it is an excellent habit of transforming our dreams to reality.
v  Write an autobiography;
I found it worth it to Google my genealogy on the internet discover my refined identity which is worth it to speak better things about. You never know that you are greater than what you think. A man’s memory is bound to be a distortion of his past in accordance with his present interests, and most faithful autobiography is likely to mirror less what a man was than what he has become

There is a need to adhere to counselling and consultation time after time