Malawi clocks 56 years after attaining its independence on July 6 1964. One is able to tell the difference between then and now. Questions we need to ponder on are whether after all these years Malawians have really been liberated. Where do we stand in terms of according equal opportunities of employment to the youth? What are we doing as a country to protect rights of vulnerable groups, the Youth, Women and Children? Is it enough or we are still far behind and a lot needs to be done? However, as the country celebrates 56 years of independence, we might also look at the mental, economic and social independence. Unless Malawians become mentally independent, we might be struggling with poverty. At 56, Malawi still remains among the bottom 10 poorest countries. This is food for thought.

July seems to be packed. The 23rd International Aids Conference runs from 6th- 10th July with the theme Resilience to further strengthen policies and programs that have been put in place to respond to HIV and any other related spates, YONECO will be presenting its abstracts on how it has invested in equipping knowledge to young people and how they can have access to information on HIV and AIDS using ICT. Our youth mobisite, www.letschill.yoceco.org provides information and answers questions one has on HIV and AIDS. Young people can also call 116 or 5600 or write to The Counsellor, Tithandizane Helpline Services, P/Bag 116 or 5600, Zomba.

Amid protecting ourselves from COVID -19, we still need to be cautious of many diseases that are taking many lives of people especially among our many Youths who are sexually active but are limited when it comes to accessing Youth Friendly Health services (YFHS) which is putting them at risk of contracting sexually transmitted Infections and unintended pregnancies. We are having reports of the boom in teenage pregnancies, child marriages and child defilements. With over 700 cases of child marriages and about 500 defilement cases reported on the child helpline and GBV Crisis Line, we need to refocus our strategies and really fifth the malpractices. The youth need to be protected from such and this is the responsibility of everybody to ensure that they are accorded the much needed support.

Aside health issues, people still face many atrocities that impact their freedom and capabilities. Modern day slavery for instance which is popularly known as Human Trafficking is a menace in our society. It is quite unfortunate that people who are in search of better life elsewhere fall prey to human Traffickers. It is everybody’s responsibility to ensure that we protect the women and children across the country. Women and children are trafficked for sexual purposes, child labour and body parts. Report any suspicious people in our areas who we believe are capable of committing such a crime to the police for them to be investigated. Remember that 30th July is Word Day Against Trafficking in Persons; more effort should be put in raising awareness against human trafficking. With Covid19 issues, trafficking in persons will be increased and let us all be vigilant.

Elections are now behind us, whether the outcome has come in our favour or not, there are so many issues at hand that we need to concentrate on in order to develop our country. Let us divert our effort in protecting the rights of the vulnerable, work on shielding ourselves from the pandemic and accord equal opportunities to all regardless of the many factors that one could be attached to. Be blessed.

Let us continue putting more effort in changing things for the better.

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