Limbe Leaf Tobacco Company Limited (Limbe Leaf) has handed over a K23 million worth Community Based Child Care Centre (CBCCC) to Chipeni community in Dowa District.
Speaking during the handover ceremony on Friday at Chipeni Village in Traditional Authority (TA) Mponela, Limbe Leaf Agricultural Labour Practices National Coordinator Ndidza Ngoma said the company decided to build the centre to take care of young children in the community when their parents work in the field.
“We observed that young children of less than 6 years old were being taken to the field by the parents. This had the potential of exposing kids to a hazardous environment. We therefore came up with a plan to introduce CBCCs in some our areas of operation as an immediate intervention to the problem.”
“For Chipeni, a decision was made to construct a building for the Community. The village leadership including the Village Development Committee (VDC), was consulted on the plan and agreed with Limbe Leaf on the importance of having a safe place where children would play and learn while their parents are busy working in the field,” said Ngoma.
The spacious centre has two classrooms, a sick bay, storeroom, an office, kitchen and toilets for the children.
Ngoma said the initial enrollment was 40 but the number has not gone up to 120 children aged between 1 and 6.
“We have also supplied the centre with chairs, tables, chalk, chalk boards and some learning and playing materials for the kids. We also supply them with gluco phala for the kids to take while at the centre. The learning environment will give a good background for the kids and prepare them for primary education. We believe an early good start to education will motivate the kids to remain in school and aid in the general initiatives the Company is undertaking to eliminate child labour in tobacco fields,” said Ngoma.
Group Village Headman Chipeni hailed Limbe Leaf for constructing the centre saying many tobacco formers had challenges where to leave their young children when they were working in their tobacco fields.
Dowa District Council Social Welfare Officer Frank Damalekani also thanked Limbe Leaf for the centre and urged the community to take full ownership of the structure.
“Limbe Leaf has done its part. It is up to you to take full ownership and responsibility of taking care of this facility. Parents have no excuses of taking their kids with them to work in tobacco fields,” said Damalekani.