Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO) in collaboration with Save the Children (SC), Total Land Care (TLC) and Centre for Creative and Community Mobilisation (CRECCOM) is implementing a four and half year project known as Child Labour Elimination Actions for Real Change (CLEAR) in Rumphi, Ntchisi and Mchinji districts with funding from Elimination of Child Labour in Tobacco Foundation (ECLT).
The major objective of the project is to protect children (5-17 years old) from exploitative, hazardous and worst forms of child labour in tobacco growing areas and to protect legally working children (15-17 years old) in non-hazardous work in tobacco fields. The project is being implemented in three districts and these are Rumphi, Ntchisi and Mchinji. In Rumphi the project is being implemented in Mwazisi zone. YONECO’s major role in the project is child protection and awareness on worst forms of child labour and hazardous work. In order to achieve this, the organisation is working with Youth clubs, child protection workers and child labour monitors that were trained by YONECO in child protection in March, 2012.
The trained volunteers have been conducting child labour monitoring, Psycho-social support and counselling sessions to abused children with technical support from YONECO CLEAR Project Officer in Mwazisi zone. Currently YONECO with support of the trained volunteers has managed to withdraw 53 children of which 43 are males and 10 are females who were being engaged in child labour in tobacco farms. The organisation has also managed to reach 84 children of which 43 are males and 41 are females’ ages from 6 to 17 years with Psycho-social support and counselling services. In total 137 (86 males and 51 females) children has been reached as of May, 2012 and all these children were not going to school but currently all of them have been enrolled back in various schools in the Zone. One of the children is Chawalazila Malongo aged 15 who have been enrolled back at school.
Chawalazila comes from Msochano village, Group Village Headman Jeka, in the area of Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe in Rumphi district but his original home is Mthalire in Chitipa district, and his father is a tobacco tenant. He dropped out of school in 2010 and he started assisting his father in tobacco farming. Chiyola Child Labour Committee reported the issue to YONECO CLEAR Project Officer who went to counsel his father and on 16th April, 2012, Chawalazila returned to school and is in STD 5 at Chiyola Primary School. According to the headmaster of Chiyola School reported that Chawalazila is one of the intelligent students in the class and he assured YONECO that if the child can be supported he will be able to achieve his Ambition of becoming a motor vehicle mechanic.
“Am very impressed with the way Chawalazila is performing in class despite that the child is facing many challenges like inadequate school materials and poor clothes but if he can be supported am very sure that the child will be a role model among the children of tobacco tenants”, Chiyola School Head Teacher, Mr Hillard Kamchocho said.
Chawalazila comes from a very poor family of 13 children and his father has two wives even though he only depends on piece works and payment which he get after selling tobacco once it have been sold. Due to poverty, the family managed to send only three children to school out of 13 children (one is in STD 8 at Chankhalamu and another one in STD 3 at Chiyola).