YONECO is implementing the “Families Matter Program” (FMP) with funding from USAID. The program is delivering sessions to parents and care givers of children between 9 to 14 years aiming at Strengthening the parents ability to protect their children’s health and help them reach adult hood safely, increasing awareness about the risks and the pressures the children face as they are growing and encouraging parents to take an active role in educating their children about sex and related issues.
Rhoda Asikimu aged 50 is one of the caregivers who is benefiting from these sessions. She is from Chingale in Zomba district which is one of the FMP implementation areas. She is among the 1200 parents and care givers who attend FMP sessions, she has 2 daughters one is 10 years and Another 13 years.
Rhoda Asikimu is very happy to be among those that were enrolled to take part in the FMP sessions as she felt her life and that of her grandchildren will change for the better.
“For me to miss one session I feel like I have missed a whole lot, because what I learn is always interesting and productive, at first I thought I cannot manage to sit down and talk to my grandchildren, I used to talk to them only when they have done something wrong, I never knew I need to establish a good relationship with them so that they can be open to me and tell me their problems, I used to think punishment is better than discipline, I went home after I was given a home work to ask my children where they are going, what they will do, who they will be with and what time they will come back.
After I asked them these questions and let them go to chat with their friends, I asked them the same questions when they came back. I wanted to know: where they went, who they were with and what they were doing. During our evening meal my youngest child told me that I was becoming a good parent because I am taking extra time to spend time and chat with them and also that am showing that I love them.”
Another beneficiary, Lonnie Kaliati aged 26, who has a 9-year old girl said she is also pleased with the coming in of this program. “This is a very interesting project, apart from being a parent learning the situations that put my children at risk, I have also learnt how to help my children to avoid risky situations. I always practice with them how they can avoid peer pressure and help them to make informed choices in life. I started following my children’s passions after learning the Pyramid of Success which made me realise my responsibility as a parent in helping my children to achieve their goals in life. My hope is that this program should also be implemented in various areas so that a lot of caregivers and parents benefit from it as well”.
Apart from Zomba district, the program is also being implemented in rural and urban areas of Machinga and Blantyre districts in order to make sure it reaches to many caregivers as one way of reducing HIV infection among pre adolescents.
FMP has also provided parents and caregivers with a platform to interact and impart/learn skills and knowledge from each other. This has helped improve their social and interactive skills through role plays, finding a buddy and home visitations. The buddies also encourage each other of their important roles towards building a positive and health life of their adolescents.