Dear esteemed reader,
1st May is International Labour Day and Malawi is no exception. We would like to join all workers in celebrating the Day. This year, International Labour Day comes at a time when Malawi is facing serious economic challenges that have led to retrenchments that have affected many workers. Living conditions in Malawi are getting tough and with the impact of Tropical Cyclone Freddy and the persistent Cholera situation, we are placed in a very difficult situation as a country. While these are realities of life, we still have to celebrate Labour Day. On one hand, we implore all employers to respect the rights of their workers and earnestly engage them. On the other hand, as workers, let us also be diligent to ensure that we are positively contributing to the growth of the businesses or institutions we work for in order to sustain our employment.
In the same month, on 14 May, we also celebrate the legacy of Malawi’s founding father, the Late Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, and the annual commemoration is dubbed Kamuzu Day. For young people who were born after 1990 may not understand how important this day is but one thing to emulate from the life of Kamuzu is the “Quest for Quality”. We are actually seeing the importance when we juxtapose public infrastructure that was constructed before 1990 and those that were built after 1990. We should possibly reflect on the kind of investment that has been made recently. As a people, we need to get back and reflect on quality issues. As the Minister of Transport and Public Works recently pointed out that “Tropical Cyclone Freddy” exposed us in the construction industry. We need to do some serious soul-searching.
Distressingly, children are continuously being subjected to abuse, violence, and exploitation. Year in and year out, children drop out of school because of various factors. As YONECO, we always ensure that the Tithandizane National Helpline Services continue to be a source of inspiration in protecting children from violence and abuse. The Helpline services provide an array of protection and support services through the following toll-free lines: 116 (child helpline), 5600 (GBV Crisis Line), 6600 (Drug and Substance Helpline), and 393 (Youth Helpline) which continue to be major sources of engagement. We, therefore, join the world on 17 May 2023 to celebrate the International Child Helpline Day. We believe that no child should be left unheard. In this regard, we would like to extend our gratitude to the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) for designating 116 as a Child Helpline and free for the callers.
While we are celebrating the importance of the child helpline, we have noted with concern the number of young people committing suicide. As a nation, this is a national tragedy and we need to reflect on this. We, therefore, would like to encourage you to seek help, and YONECO, as the operator of Tithandizane Helpline Service, would like to remind you that your help is always available and a call away on 116, 5600, 6600, or 393. All these spaces are for you to have a chat with our counsellors. You can also reach out to mental health professionals in all our health formations, teachers, and lecturers including your religious leaders.
Finally, as a child protection agency, we are worried about increased cases of violence against children. Our database, media reports and community engagement sessions indicate that cases of violence against children are escalating despite several efforts by various partners. Just recently, we have been shocked by the murder of a girl child who was brutally killed after being defiled and we see this as a new phenomenon. As a nation, we probably need to reflect on what is happening. Children are no longer safe and we need to work together to create a safe haven for children.
I wish you all a productive and prosperous month of May!