Communities in the two Traditional Authorities of Mulilima and Kasisis have commended Centre for Alternatives for the Victimized Women and Children (CAVWOC) for initiating various activities that have positively enhanced the level of understanding on issues among them.
Cavwoc has done various activities ranging from family planning, safe motherhood, HIV/AIDS and issues of Gender Based Violence in the two TAs where the communities have come out and said the activities have benefitted them quite a lot.
Among the people benefiting from Cavwoc’s interventions are the youth in the district where the organization has set up a youth healthy friendly facility that was expected to benefit over 30, 000 youth in accessing health services.
Cavwoc’s Executive Director, Joyce Phekani said the facility would help many youth to access contraceptives and other sexual reproductive health services.
“As Cavwoc, we believe that such a facility would enable our youth in the district to access the health friendly services in the district as that would be one way of reducing new HIV infections and unplanned pregnancies among the youth aged 10 to 24,” she said.
Phekani added that parents too had a responsibility over their children by counseling them so that they were not entering into early marriages.
She said “we have established that there are more of abuses happening to the youth especially girls in the district such as incest, defilement and many other cases which as an organization we have tried to intervene but also it’s a call that everyone holds a responsibility to the end of it all.”
On his part, Chikwawa District Health Officer, Amber Majidu commended Cavwoc for the initiative adding that the facility is of paramount importance as issues to do with health care services, youth friendly health services among other issues will be easily accessed.
He said “As a district we have missed out a lot in the absence of such a facility and that this time around Cavwoc has provided the facility we will look after the facility well. It is the facility I would urge youth in the district to fully utilize for their benefit.
We have issues to do with family planning where the youth would be able to access condoms, they will be counseled, they will get tested of HIV/AIDS, and they will also get health promotion messages. We believe that when such things are not used, there are high rates of early pregnancies as well as violence.”
Traditional Authority Mulilima said the facility came at a time when his area was registering high rate of early marriages among girls putting the blame especially on some civil servants working in the area who took advantage over the disadvantaged girls.
Mulilima further urged his subjects especially the youth to make sure they were going for HIV/AIDS test before marriage and that they were entering into marriage when they were matured enough.
Apart from other messages the organization delivered to the people, issues of Gender Based Violence within families were also described as key hinderers to development within communities and to the nation as a whole.
The organization’s Project Officer in Chikwawa district, Judith Chisi Pangani through various forums organized in villages under the two TAs said there was need for members of the families especially husbands and wives to unite so that through the peace enjoyed inside their houses there was full participation to whatever was taking place in the community hence, development.
“When peoples’ rights are infringed, and there are more of GBVs most people are affected psychologically and they would not be fully patronizing in developmental issues. On top of that, you will find out that children are not sent to school or they perform bad in class because they are greatly affected with whatever is happening around them.
“We are in the 21st Century where we would not expect to see children not going to school at the same time men must learn to love their wives so too are wives so that in the long run, they both join hands because one would not stand by him/herself without the help of the other,” said Pangani
She further stated that local leaders had the authority to make sure that everyone’s right was protected so that communities enjoyed the oneness which would originate from the families and that the whole nation would be of peace hence development.
On his part, Officer In charge for Chikwawa Police, Macmillan Nyirongo concurred with Chikwawa District Social Welfare Officer Rosemary Mahata saying the cultural practices such as Kulowa kufa, Dzomwa were also forms of abuse to women.
They said such practices were destroying peoples’ future calling upon all traditional leaders to protect the girl child by not allowing her to sleep with older men in the name of cultural preservation also adding that forced marriages were not tolerated and that any person involved on the same would be dealt with accordingly no matter their status.
The two officials called upon all people to report to police any forms of abuse be it in a family or from their traditional leaders citing there was a Victim Support Unit (VSU) at police as well as the office of the social welfare that would handle such issues responsibly.
Traditional Authority Kasisi said there was a need that all children were sent to school adding if they were denied that chance they were abused of their rights.
He said, “Never shall you force your girl child to get married in exchange of anything and I urge my entire village heads to seriously look into these issues and give punishments where necessary.”
In a bid to promote welfare of the people especially women in Chikwawa the organization gaven out K2,800,000 to 288 flood survivor women as capital to start their own small businesses.
According to CAVWOC, the small businesses are expected to uplift the lives of the communities after the January devastating floods in the district.
Judith Chisi Pangani said such was one of the interventions her organization has put in place so as to see to it that women were having something to do at a household level especially after the devastating floods when a lot of property was lost.
“After when the flooding period was over, we decided to do group discussions with the people especially women in camps and of course we were told they were living happily but they were very much interested to go back to their homes so that they would be able to engage themselves into other issues. Most of them resorted to a kind of small business which they would do so as to assist their lives in whilst at home homes.
Most women though complained of loss of skills during the flooding disaster, some of them also said to have lost people they depended on and that their fertile land was also lost among others and that was the reason why we resorted to bail them out by giving out some money as a startup capital whereby each woman among the 288 got K10, 000 for the small scale businesses,” said Chisi
She said most women had decided to venture into Village Savings and Loans (VSL) programs on top of the other small scale businesses such as baking, selling vegetables among others.
Chisi said, “We focused much on women because they were marginalized and that was one way of empowering them so as to be able to stand on their own.”
The organization has also carried out activities especially popularizing the laws in order to make sure that the communities were conversant with the laws.
Said Pangani: “the major problem we have noted as Cavwoc is that many communities are not aware of the laws governing the land and when an issue happens they do not know where to go. The communities do not really know what police officers or magistrates do.
Cavwoc has done activities with support from the Simavi of Netherlands, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) among other donor organizations.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :