Happy New Year to all readers, supporters and funders of YONECO. We would like to welcome you into the year 2022. If you have made it this far, you should be grateful as 2021 was very eventful but also painful. Therefore, it is important that we should begin this new year with work that will make the year more memorable and meaningful. We do hope that we have learnt enough lessons in 2021 that will be used in 2022.

2021 was quite a challenging year and in terms of child protection, it was even the worst. We saw over 2, 000 children being defiled and around 2, 200 others being married off way before their 18th birthday. These figures only represent the cases that were reported through YONECO and this means the national figures are too big for all of us to be comfortable.

As YONECO, we are shocked that some funny posts have been circulating on social media like ‘Girls who were born in 2004 are adults now and YONECO should put its hands off”. As YONECO, we believe that the fight against child abuse and violence is a big task and everyone’s responsibility. We were, however, proud that there has been association of YONECO in child protection. We were proud that we protected these children who were born in 2004 until they transitioned into adulthood. We just want to assure the nation that we are committed and will continue protecting and serving the youth women and children. We are therefore banking on your support to have this properly done. Bravo YONECO Board, management and staff for such a ‘protective brand for children in Malawi’.

As the year begins, we want to urge you all to reflect on the pans you had in 2021 and see what you accomplished. Several questions need to be asked and answered if we are going to make progress. What have we planned to do? What are the goals that we want to achieve? There are twelve months ahead of us and how do we intend to do with the time? One key challenge is that often times, we come up with new year resolutions but sadly, the resolutions are broken along the way. Why does this happen? Can we reflect seriously and ensure that the resolutions are not broken along the way? If we have plans fair and square but if we do not, then there is a problem. It might be that we will waste the time we have and come January next year will be complaining that we are not seeing any growth. On that note also take some time to reflect on the just ended year. Where you able to accomplish what you had set out to accomplish? If the answer is no, what is the reason you failed to do what you planned, are there any lessons you learned as a result of failure and going forward how do you intend to use your failures to your benefit. Having reflected on this, it is important to set a vision and ensure that you are committed to it. There is need to have a long term plan and also a short term plan. Plan out each month as clearly as possible which should give you a map for the year. Ensure that you are committed to achieving those plans when you implement them.

There are several times that we take success as a miracle. There will never be success by chance, you need to plan and work for it. For this to have, as Jack Caifield says, “You need to take 100% responsibility for the changes to take place the way you want”. You need to be disciplined, focused and engaged. You need to manage your time well. There are some of us who graduated from the ‘Graduate School of Blaming’. We continue blaming each other. In homes, parents are blaming children and children are blaming parents. It is not surprising because we are all graduates of school of blaming and we blame everyone except ourselves. Can we spend time and take total responsibility of our actions, thoughts, beliefs and results? The challenge is that as you continue to blame others, you do not learn. As Malawians, let us learn to own our mistakes and move forward. We have erred and we need some changes to make progress.

Recently, YONECO had a visit from the members of the Malawi Parliamentary Women’s Caucus and the Speaker of Parliament Rt Honourable Gotani Hara was in attendance. In her remarks, she asked YONECO to consider working with different groups including the National Economic Empowerment Fund (NEEF). Well, one message for our political leaders is; ‘please help the government to depoliticize the NEEF issues. It was not surprising therefore that recently we had young people pressing on NEEF offices to move forward.

Well, YONECO has a new Strategic Plan for 2022 – 2032. We welcome you to the new thoughts and operations in the next few years. Financial independence is one critical aspect that we need to work on.

Finally, we still have COVID-19 in our midst and we now have different variants of the disease. It is important that everyone works hard to ensure that we are not contributing to its further spread. By this, I mean should religiously follow the preventive measures. Let us make sure that we are masking up, we are not gathering in large crowds without any form of protection, we are observing social distance and we are also frequently sanitizing. Let us also remember that COVID-19 Vaccine is offering a lifeline therefore I would urge you to get the jab.

Have a fruitful month and happy new year to you all.


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