Tito Jeffrey with the James family
Tito Jeffrey with the James family Nandi Bwanali/One Community

Kennedy James's Story: From Child Labour to School Pupil

Feb 01 2018

Kennedy is a 12-year-old, single orphaned boy who lives in Malembo village, Group Village Head Dalamponda, Traditional Authority Nsanama in Machinga district. His father died in 2014 leaving him to be looked after by his mother. Being a single parent and in dire poverty, the mother could not manage to provide for the family. Both Kennedy and his mother would go to sleep for some days without food. They had no land to cultivate and no assets or livestock to raise money from. This made Kennedy go hunting mice in order to get food for his mother and himself.

 Tito Jeffrey, a CRP from the area, observed on several occasions that Kennedy was always hunting mice and was at home during school times. He observed this for at least five days in a row and concluded that something was wrong.

He approached the child’s mother, Faines James, and asked her why Kennedy was not in school. He was told that Kennedy had to hunt mice for food and for sale as she was a widow and has no means to survive. He was told that Kennedy was the bread winner for the family. Tito gently told the mother that she was violating her child’s right to education by keeping him out of school. He explained that this was a child protection violation according to the laws of Malawi.

Tito continued to make further assessments of household and he discovered that three out of five children were of school going age. He also found out that they had inadequate clothes and had no uniforms. They did not have mosquito nets and were involved in child labor.

Tito also found out that Kennedy’s father left a will indicating that his son should get the bicycle he owned, however, his paternal uncles took it for “safe keeping until Kennedy was old enough”. At 12, Kennedy felt he was now old enough to get this bicycle. He went to his uncle’s place to retrieve the bicycle but he was told by his uncles that ‘’we caught your mother sleeping with another man yet culturally we have not released her; as a result we are keeping our relative’s bicycle.’’

With Faines’s consent Tito enrolled the James household into the One Community program. He ensured that Kennedy and his siblings returned to school. He also took the case to child protection worker Patricia Makangana who set a meeting with Kennedy’s uncle to discuss the issue of the bicycle.

The uncle’s family admitted to taking the bicycle and agreed to giving Kennedy a new bicycle as the old one had been dismantled and parts were shared amongst family members.

Tito, together with his supervisor continued to follow up on the matter and informed Faines of the progress. Their constant visits made the family of Kennedy’s father anxious and they have since given Kennedy a bicycle.

One Community is currently working to ensure that Faines is financially stable so as to keep Kennedy and his siblings in school. One C will continue to provide economic strengthening interventions and referrals to the James household to address this.

Since October 2016 to September 2017, 25,446 children below 18 benefited from interventions to keep them safe.

One C has approximately 873 children in the current cohort who report that they have experienced abuse or neglect in one form or the other. These children were identified through household CRPs who were trained to screen and identify signs or risk factors associated with violence against children (VAC).
About 36,478 OVC and caregivers were provided with child protection services including positive parenting education, the difference forms of VAC and how they can prevent them. They were also provided with information on appropriate action to take in case a child in the household has been abused. At least 25,446 children below 18 benefited from interventions to keep them safe.

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