Awards with flair, jack up the ‘resilience’

Somanje with girls her article helped to rescue, Matewere and Child Justice Judge
Somanje with girls her article helped to rescue, Matewere and Child Justice Judge
Kunyungwa getting award from Canada Anmbassador
Kunyungwa getting award from Canada Anmbassador
Mayor Chalamanda speaking
Mayor Chalamanda speaking

We are drawing into the year 2015, not with much to show for, as far as interventions on the girl child and recognition of selfless players is concerned.

A bit of show?

In 2013, my mind setting me right, I did an article that saw a girl child – hopeless but intelligent, get a scholarship and other support to continue with her studies at Salima Secondary School. Rahima who was always first position since form 1 to form 2, despite often sneaking into class after been chased back for no school fees, was at her most vulnerable stage in life, when puberty issues would easily possibly have sent her into early and/orc child marriages.

This is the stage most girls are often conflicted about education!

A lot has happened around that girl child, courtesy of that article and of course, dedicated follow-up by one McBain Mkandawire of Youth Net and Counselling (Yoneco) based in Zomba. That man, forget his tummy, has done a lot to continue to pool resources for the lucky girl, Rahima, and others in her predicament.

McBain led in opening a special account, the YONECO Girls Education Fund account number 1000913509 with Zomba Service Branch of the National Ban of Malawi. Kind people, including a Pearson Nkhoma, a J.M. Nyasulu, an Esnart Jere, a Madalitso of Northern Region Water Board, and one calling the self ‘SupportRahima’ and another ‘RahimaOffer’, all went flat out to pool together resources for Rahima and many other less privileged students.

In Rahima’s case, working closely with the Salima District Social Welfare office. That was from 2013.

Which is why before closing this year, it is imperative that two more souls, selfless souls, be commended for their actions towards removing hurdles ij the lives of girl children and children in whole.

A pen for the ‘oppressed girl’

One of these is a journalists. A ‘girl-journalist’ by the name of Caroline Somanje.

She is not new in the trade. And she is inspiring to the girl child in her daily journalistic chores, strutting her whole as she goes from one rural place to another to sniff out issues that impinge on the girl child with a view of exposing social stresses around their wellbeing.

Carol, as I will call her for now, as she is my good lady media colleague, was on 18th December 2014 awarded the Child Protection Award 2014 by Eye of the Child (EYC) for her outstanding Performance.

Let me start by explaining that every year the EYC Board of Trustees presents a Special Award to a nominated individual that has excellently contributed in protecting the rights of children in Malawi.

EYC executive director, Maxwell Matewere, told me on the outskirts of the awards, that run on the sides of a Life Skills Training for Girls selected from various schools and communities in the commercial city of Blantyre, that Caroline’s nomination is in recognition of the two child marriage stories in Nsanje and Blantyre she wrote and were published in The Nation newspapers.

“The determination which she demonstrated and the end results of her involvement in the stories are so impressive. Apart from ensuring that justice is served, her determination also ensured to secure support towards changing the lives of the victims by using her journalism profession,” he said.

Cop Changer

The second, surprisingly for this kind of selfless conduct, is a cop – or policeman if you insist. Often Malawi police officers are known for the wrong things, like forcing suspects to pay them for release or faked up bail, and stealing from road users in the name of being Traffic Officers. You know what I mean. Our police, sorry to add, are also blamed for leaguing up with killers, Cashgaters, and all other manner of criminals when they should be working to stop them. The writing is on the wall, should we argue?

Well, that may be true or not, but with one Sergeant Benjamin Kunyungwi, the story is different.

Not very blessed in height nor light complexion, the slim man also carted home the 2013 Child Protection Award. No wonder his superiors wondered and expressed: “Internally we fail to often recognise such great works and performances by our officers. I am glad that you out there, are able to see what some of our super police officers do and award them.”

That aside, Sgt. Kunyungwi smiled off that training event an even more inspired Child Protection Officer which he has been for some years now.

Now posted at Limbe Police Station, Kungungwi whilst at Ndirande Police Station personally resumed a discontinued case and personally took the case to court leading to successful prosecution involving a rape and defilement of a minor. I bet some police officers would have received a ‘khaki envelope’ from the offender to frustrate the case. Not with this Sergeant.

“About four girls have also been rescued from early marriages in the areas of Machinjiri, Mikolongwe, and Bangwe since the policeman followed up their cases and arrested each of the involved men, taking them to court with success. Street children in Limbe are also Kunyungwi’s concern, with him single handed managing to help some of them back to school and also helping the street children by reaching out to different stakeholders to lobby and secure for their support,” explained Matewere.

Kudos of the Year should also go to His Excellency Shawn Barber, the Canadian High Commissioner to Malawi, Mozambique and Swaziland for personally gracing the occasion and presenting the awards, support EYC efforts, and at large, helping inspire Malawian girls to stay in school and become valuable assets to the national cause.

Any ‘resilience?’

I may not be of old in age, but Sgt. Kunyungwi’s efforts can be likened to those of one Mapulanga, a no nonsense policeman who conducted single man patrols and cleaned Limbe and surrounding areas clean of would be and established criminals, no matter the odds. How Malawi would be a better place if we had more of today’s Kanyungwi and yesterday’s Mapulanga amongst us today.

Which forward tracks me to our so-called city establishments. As for Blantyre, Mayor Noel Chalamanda who was at the event, openly told the girls present he would personally frog them if he found them loitering in his city streets instead of going to school or staying at home doing normal chores.

For Lilongwe, well, that man (what is his name again?) may continue to sleep and we pray for a Sgt Kunyungwi Lilongwe version to do his job. That man is becoming a ridicule to the efforts of the reestablishment of the Councillors domain.

As for Mzuzu or eMzuzu, can that man stop pursuing councillor emoluments as a priority and get to work?

Lets learn to be resilient against these social ills. Who knows, you could get your own award as an individual or community or office for protecting less privileged and/or some vulnerable people in 2015.

Wishing us all the best of the year 2015 and God bless Malawi.

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