Lack of information and conflicting Sexual Reproductive Health messages in Malawi negatively impacts on the development of young people. Young people in Malawi are also being deluded by harmful cultural practices and other traditional norms.
Further to this, other prevalent SRHR challenges among young people in Malawi include high prevalence rates of unwanted teen pregnancies, unsafe abortions and child marriages among others. This justifies the need for workable strategies of ensuring that young people are empowered to fully understand their sexual and reproductive rights.
YONECO, with financial and technical support from UNFPA and Praekelt Foundation is running the operations of a Mobisite called Tune Me. Tune Me is a mobile technology channel that engages young people and delivers behaviour change communication that empowers them to improve their sexual and reproductive health.
Tune Me as a Mobile Platform, will greatly promote young people’s sexual reproductive health and rights through increasing their access to information and counselling services. The initiative is being operated by YONECO with technical and financial support from PRAKELT Foundation and UNFPA through Safe Guarding Young People Programme (SYP).
In its untiring efforts of promoting the rights and welfare of the youth, women and children in Malawi; YONECO has distributed school uniforms to children who live under residential care at Lilongwe Social Rehabilitation Centre (LSRC).
The children could not manage to hide their jovial moods and gratitude when Prisca Malaenga of YONECO handed the school uniforms to the Centre Manager, Austin Chafuwa who reced the uniforms on behalf of the beneficiaries.
Chafuwa applauded YONECO for what he described as a well-timed donation as the children had no school uniforms and a few others had worn out uniforms. Chafuwa further added that education makes children of today responsible and productive adults of tomorrow hence the need to give them full support.
In his address, Chafuwa urged the children to take good care of the uniforms and take YONECO’s gesture as encouragement for them to work hard in class.
In her remarks during the handover ceremony, Prisca Malenga stated that YONECO thought it wise to provide the uniforms as one way of kindling the children’s interest and seriousness in their studies.
“I am very happy to receive this uniform and I am also thankful to YONECO for the support they give us”, said one of the recipients of the uniforms.
Recently, YONECO signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare to support government’s efforts in running the rehabilitation centre.
Currently, YONECO is also providing financial support to the day to day operations of the facility as well as conducting life skills and leadership development sessions to the children who live at the centre.
On 29 August 2016, the Principal Secretary (P/S) in the Ministry of Labour, Youth and Manpower Development; led the Malawi nation
in commemorating the International Youth Day at a function that was held at Mpamba Primary School Ground in Nkhata Bay district.
As one of the leading youth development organizations in Malawi, Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO) was among the organisations and institutions that mounted pavilions to showcase their interventions in youth work.
During the function, the Principal Secretary appreciated various interventions which YONECO is implementing to enhance the rights and welfare of the youth in Malawi. Among other things, YONECO showcased a number of interventions and among them was how young people access sexual reproductive health (SRH) information through the Tithandizane National Helpline Service which has a toll free number as well as Youth Drop in Centres.
Furthermore, YONECO also showcased how the organisation is spearheading the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to engage and empower the youth in Malawi. On this aspect, YONECO ICT Manager, Panji Harawa, explained to the PS how Tune Me; a Mobile Platform which is aimed at promoting young people’s sexual reproductive health and rights through increased access to information and counselling service called Tune Me. The initiative is being operated by YONECO with technical and financial support from PRAKELT Foundation and UNFPA.
The ICS-Prossio Volunteers who are working with YONECO to promote young people’s sexual reproductive health also explained the strategies and impact they are registering in their impact areas.
Various groups of young people took turns to showcase and entertain people who were present during the function. Chikwina Youthful acrobats were a darling of the crowd after putting up an enthralling performance. The event was also spiced up by poem recitals, traditional dances and drama.
YONECO Radio Station (YFM) was also there and the youth-oriented broadcaster covered the event live from Mpamba Primary School ground.
Among other notable individuals who graced the occasion are; Mac Bain Mkandawire – Executive Director for YONECO, Dan Odallo – UNFPA Resident Representative, Senior Chief Mkumbira as well as Honourable C. Nyirenda.
The Day was commemorated under the theme: The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Production and Consumption.
Bawo is a favourite traditional pastime among men in Malawi and some parts of the African continent. Bawo is in the group of ancient ‘count and capture’ board games. The game is popular in both rural and urban areas where men form a circle around the board which only allows two challengers at a time. Passing by a Bawo
Game; what welcomes a person is the sound of laughter and shouts from the players and other men who sit or stand to watch the game as they also wait for their turn.
Bawo Game presents an opportune time whereby most men find it easy to have man-to-man discussions and crack jokes with their peers. Thus, YONECO has thought it necessary to use Bawo Game as a way of engaging men in the fight against Gender Based Violence (GBV), Violence against Children (VAC) as well as preventing the spread of HIV and mitigating its impact. YONECO is in a drive to make sure that in their discussions, the men should also talk about GBV, HIV, VAC and other social challenges as a way of influencing positive behaviours among men.
20 August, 2016 marked the launch of K 400,000 YONECO Bawo League which will be played in Zomba and Machinga districts.
In his keynote address, the Board Chairperson for YONECO, Professor Dixie Maluwa Banda, stated that it is YONECO’s strategy to actively involve men in the fight against GBV, VAC and HIV.
“As an institution, YONECO realised that men are usually left out in the interventions that are aimed at fighting against HIV and ending violence which is usually perpetrated by them. Thus, we saw it wise to innovatively and continuously incorporate men in our programming”, said Professor Maluwa.
Talking to the press; the Executive Director for YONECO, MacBain Mkandawire, stated that the organisation will also train some of the men as Peer Educators so that they should, at a particular point in time, facilitate the discussions. He stated that YONECO is very optimistic that the Malawi society will benefit a lot from the Bawo League as men will eventually start looking at issues of gender inequality, child rights and HIV from a different angle.
“Having men to discuss and engage each other on various developmental issues is very cost effective and it is a pathway to the creation of an HIV and violence free society”, said Mkandawire.
Mac Bain Mkandawire further added that the Bawo League will also be used as a tool that will inform YONECO’s programming. On this aspect, the Executive Director for YONECO stated that there is a fundamental challenge in social behaviour programming whereby organisations think that they know everything while they do not. This, he said, is the reason why there is a need to cast the net wider and engage communities through various innovative approaches in order to solicit and unpack the information so as to design effective and efficient interventions.
The Chairperson for Zomba Bawo Association, Hasheem Banda, thanked YONECO for the support and he stated that it will help men to understand what constitutes GBV, its dangers and how it can be prevented. He further stated that the intervention will help the men to spend their time wisely as they will benefit a lot from the discussions and eventually prevent HIV as well.
The launch was held at YONECO Head Offices in Zomba district.
Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO) joined Zomba District Council, various institutions and individuals in the commemoration of the Day of the African Child at a function that was held at Sunuzi Primary School ground in the district.
YONECO displayed a number of its innovative approaches which the organization uses to enhance the rights and welfare of children in Malawi. On its pavilion, YONBECO showed how it intensified child protection activities in flood evacuation camps during the January-2015 floods. Furthermore, YONECO also publicized its toll free child helpline number (116) which has also become a beacon for protecting the rights and welfare of children in Malawi.
The function was also aired live on YONECO FM Radio (YFM) with two children co-presenting alongside YFM presenters. YONECO children’s Band was also present during the function and the youthful band dished out a number of thematic songs.
The function was graced by the presence of Hon. Charles Thikiwa, Member of Parliamnet for Thondwe Constituency and the Guest of Honour Councillor Namakoka.
The function was also spiced up with a football match between Sunuzi and Sakalawe.
The Day of the African Child is celebrated on 16 June every year since 1991. However, Zomba district chose a special day to hold the commemoration at district level. The event was commemorated under the theme; Protecting Children’s rights in conflict and crisis in Malawi.
The Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare; Hon. Dr. Jean Kalirani has launched Tune Me Mobile Platform for promoting young people’s sexual reproductive health and rights through increased access to information and counseling services.
The Mobile application requires an internet data plan (A mobile Phone with Internet access) which is being operated by YONECO with technical and financial support from PRAKELT Foundation and UNFPA.
In her remarks, Hon. Kalirani stated that the tool will go a long way helping young people as information has been one of the major causes of various SRH Challenges among young people.
“I am very happy for this initiative and I know it will help to fill information gap. Young people who will be able to access the right information and eventually share with their peers”, said Honourable Dr. Kalirani.
The Executive Director for YONECO, Mac Bain Mkandawire, has also reaffirmed YONECO’s commitment towards ensuring a successful implementation of Tune Me in Malawi.
The launch took place at the commemoration event of this year’s World Population Day in Dedza district at Mankhamba Primary School ground.
The function has been graced by the presence of various traditional leaders including Senior Chief Kachindamoto, UNFPA Representative; Dr Dan Odallo and the US Ambassador to Malawi; Her Excellency Virginia Palmer.
The World population Day was commemorated under the theme; Investing in Teenage Girls at an event that was held at Mankhamba Primary School Ground in Dedza district. The Day is commemorated every year on 11th July, 2016 but Malawi opted to have the actual commemoration event on 29 July, 2016.