Mwai Wosinthika- Inspiring Future Leaders

Mwai Wosinthika Programme

As we approach Christmas, IRLI are busy preparing for a next Mwai Wosinthika Programme. The Mwai Wosinthika Programme aims to give young people the chance, and opportunity, to change their circumstances. Most importantly, the programme seeks to empower young people by giving them the responsibility, and the choice, to make changes in their behaviour and in the ways in which they deal with life’s problems.

New facilitators are currently being oriented on the programe and police officers around the Central Region continue to be trained on how to deal with child suspects, in accordance with the law, and the concepts of restorative justice and diversion. Further, at a recent National Child Justice Forum meeting in Blantyre, where Mwai Wosinthika facilitator, Insp. Fanny Chimbaya, spoke about diversion and explained about the IRLI programme, His Lord Justice Edward Twea, the Chairperson of the Forum and Supreme Court Judge of Malawi, encouraged all stakeholders to focus on capacity building in the areas of child justice and diversion and stated that similar programmes should, and will, be rolled out across the country in the coming months.

So with so much to look forward to in the coming months, IRLI took the opportunity to catch up with one of the most recent participants of the programme, Thokozani Malimbika. Thokozani, who has only recently turned seventeen years old, completed the programme in July 2014 and has come a long way in just six months.

When she first came to the attention of the Mwai Wosinthika facilitators, Thokozani was loitering around the streets and markets of Area 24 in Lilongwe, with nothing to do. Area 24 is one of the poorer areas of Lilongwe. Thokozani‘s father passed away in 2005, after which her mother returned to her home village. Thokozani has since lived in a tiny room with her brother and younger sister, who is deaf and dumb, in her uncle’s small house. Thokozani’s uncle allows her and her siblings to stay with him, but he is not in a position to provide them with food or to pay for school fees. As a result, she stopped attending school in 2010. She had no vocational skills and was unable to find work. Overall, her future prospects were quite bleak and there was a very high risk that she would fall in with bad company and come in conflict with the law or become a victim of crime herself.

After Thokozani joined the Mwai Wosinthika Programme, it quickly became clear that she was an extremely intelligent girl. She had been making every effort to learn sign language in order to be able to communicate with her sister and really wanted to return to school and continue her education.

When IRLI asked Thokozani what were the greatest benefits of participating in the programme she replied that the most valuable thing was that she learned the importance of avoiding bad company and the skills to be able to deal with peer pressure. She also now has the confidence and skills  to achieve her ambitions.

After the Mwai Wosinthika Programme was completed, IRLI linked Thokozani up with an organisation called Tikondane, which assisted her in returning to school. She is currently writing exams and hopes, one day, to become a nurse. She tells us her favourite subjects are English and Biology.

She was also linked up with The Samaritan Trust, who provide a vocational skills training programme in Lilongwe, and was recently awarded a Certificate of Achievment in Tailoring.  As a result, Thokozani is now equipped to provide tailoring services, which will both help her family meet their most basic needs and help her to pay for her school fees and ensure she finishes her education.

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In November, Thokozani had the opportunity to meet the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, on his recent state visit to Malawi. She explained about the importance of having programmes,such as Mwai Wosinthika, in Malawi and how it had benefited her and her family.

IRISH PRESIDENT VISIT_Toko

There is no doubt that Thokozani still has many challenges to face. She has to manage her time so that she can make enough clothes to provide for herself and her siblings, while also ensuring she has the time to study and pass her exams. We hope, however, that she will continue to benefit from the Mwai Wosinthika programme and that she is now adequately prepared her to overcome whatever difficulties and challenges she may encounter in the future. IRLI looks forward to inviting Thokozani back to the Mwai Wosinthika Programme to share her story as we are sure that she will be an inspiration to the new participants.

 

December 2014