“The year 2020 is slowly winding up. The year, started with excitement and prospects of hope to be a great year but a lot came to a standstill. For us, we had to simultaneous, face two pandemics: the rampant increase in the number of girls who got into early marriages and unintended pregnancies during the closure of schools due to COVID-19 and of course the corona virus itself. Now that schools are fully opened, businesses have started normalizing. But the key question is, what next? The comeback after every down fall is what matters. How do we recover from this atrocity? What strict measures have we put in place to make sure that girls go back and remain in school after giving birth?

As individuals, let each and every one of us reflect on the efforts we have made to render protection to young people. As a nation, where did we go wrong or missed the plot to protect young people? What could we have done differently in order to contribute positively towards the development of this country? The pandemic taught us how unprepared we were and are when it comes to disaster and child protection.

The pandemic has been a heavy breeding ground for Gender Based Violence. It is very unfortunate that despite numerous efforts of awareness to end the vice, young girls still remain prey to men who still continue to rob them of their childhood innocence. Can we go back to the drawing board and formulate laws that would ensure stiffer punishment to offenders? Recent revelations around the matter from various parts of Malawi, makes the entire child protection system seem to be in total disarray.

This month is all about voicing out and increasing awareness drive on the different kinds of abuse that young people and children continue to face. The 19 Days of Activism for the Prevention of Violence and Abuse against children rolls out on the 1st to the 19th of this month, which will be followed by 16 days of activism against Gender based violence from the 25th of November to the 10th December. We hope that this will be an opportunity to reflect on violence against children and ensure that children are continuing to be part and parcel of the protection system.

YONECO will be featuring various topics on the matter through its YFM radio station and also have a number of activities with a petition that will be presented to government on the conclusion of the 19 Days of Activities on 19th November 2020 in Lilongwe with a Children March against VAC. We will be inviting all of you to this important event so that we rally behind the children of Malawi as they engage with the leadership of the country to present the issues relating to VAC in the country. YONECO will venture into massive awareness through its programming, as well as social media platforms besides providing psychosocial support to its walk-in clients and others seeking online counselling in our call centers. The general public is also encouraged to visit YONECO offices near them to report any cases or issues of abuse/ violence.

Nobody is a whole team… we need each other. You need someone and someone needs you. We are not isolated islands. To make life work, we have to learn to support each other, as well as relate and respond meaningfully. At the same time, we ought to give and take; and confess and forgive, as we reach out and embrace and rely on each other! Since none of us is a whole, independent, self-sufficient, super capable, all powerful hotshot; let’s quit acting like we are.’ John C. Maxwell, The 17 Indisputable Laws of teamwork.

Together we can achieve greater heights if we coordinate. All the best, keep on fighting in order to reach your goals

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