Minister of Gender and Community Services, Patricia Kaliati on Saturday commissioned the information and communication technology classroom that has been provided by Blantyre Round Table No. 20 at Mpemba Reformatory Centre along Chikwawa Road in Blantyre.
Kaliati applauded the charitable organisation of these young men of under 40 years of age for their long-standing partnership with this reformatory centre that has existed since 1962.
She took cognizance that the ICT facilities donated will undoubtedly enrich the teaching and learning scope of the institution, that reforms minors who had been in conflict with the law.
“This is an enriched learning tool for these kids and is set to give them an opportunity to connect with the rest of the world that in turn will assist them to reform far much better,” she said.
“You have provided these kids with a stimulating environment for reform that will assist them to come out of this place and harbour the ambitions to become responsible citizens.
“This assistance from the private sector is indeed appreciated because the government has already rolled out e-learning in most schools as well as e-health services.”
She took an opportunity to inform the public that they should take care of their children by sending them to school and providing for them so that they should not end up committing crimes.
“Most of these kid offenders resort to stealing because they fend for themselves since their parents neglect them.
“I must warn such parents who are not protecting and caring for their kids that my Ministry, in conjunction with the Police, will be arresting them in order to instil a sense of responsibility on those who might think of doing the same.”
As she walked towards her seat after opening the ICT lab, Kaliati stopped by some of the kids and asked them the offences they committed while encouraging them not to repeat such bad behaviours by taking advantage of the skills that the reformatory centre offers.
Then she noticed a little girl who is less than 10 years old whom she was told had just been neglected in the streets and the police decided to bring her and her younger sibling to Mpemba for caretaking.
Kaliati immediately ordered that the two should be relocated to a proper orphanage that the Blantyre social welfare office works in conjunction with, saying they were not supposed to be mixed with the young offenders.
In his speech, Mpemba Reformatory Centre’s Principal Mike Maulidi asked if Kaliati’s Ministry could approve their plans to open up to the surrounding communities to benefit from the education and vocational skills they offer.
He said the institution can also operate as a social welfare office since all the teachers there are trained in that capacity and that other kids could learn there rather walk long distances to other schools.
He also suggested that the centre can also be turned into a business development centre for women from the surrounding community, whose positive presence can motivate their wards to emulate in their reform process.
Meanwhile, Blantyre Round Table No. 20 chairperson Andrew Luka appraised the Minister that Blantyre Round Table Blantyre 20 is non-political, non-religious international community-based charity organization of like-minded professional young men from the ages of 18-40.
“As Roundtable, we pride ourselves in getting fully involved with all our community-based projects,” he said. “We meet every second Tuesday of the month to discuss our business affairs as we plan our projects to raise funds for use in our community.
“We use our fellowship meetings to interact with captains of different industries to exchange ideas and develop each other as young professional men who want to give back and develop our local communities.”
Their motto, Luka said, is adopt, adapt and improve and “we do this in all aspects of our Tabling career as well as our individual lives”.
He outlined some of the notable projects that have undertaken over the years that include building and commissioning the Louis Marchesi Physiotherapy ward at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in 1983, which is still in use today and is supported by the Tablers.
“In 2013, we partnered with PEP stores when they gave us a donation of clothes, sports equipment, sanitary items and shoes to the tune of K30 million [which] we distributed communities such as Blantyre, Bangwe, Thondwe and Chiradzulu and touched the lives of over 1,000 people.
“In 2017, we partnered up with Banja and Queens Hospital and carried out an extensive cervical cancer screening drive in Chikwawa District [where] we managed to screen over 600 women.
“In 2018, we supported flood victims in the Lower Shire, in partnership with our parent body Round Table Malawi, international Tablers and our corporate friends with funding to the tune of K15 million.
“We donated food items, maize seeds, blankets, cooking utensils and black sheeting to over 2,000 flood victims in the Chikwawa/Nsanje area.”
Luka also appraised Kaliati of the Tablers long-standing 49-year friendship with Mpemba centre that started in 1962 it which it has been long-standing annual tradition to interact with the kids in celebration of the Christmas festive season.
The Tablers treat the children on a bus ride into Central Business District of Blantyre City, stopover for an ice cream treat before going back where they are offered a hearty Christmas meal.
Thereafter, they donate various items — academic and otherwise — before playing their ritual football match.
“Today, it gives me great pleasure to be handing over this state-of-the-art computer lab, which will empower the children with basic IT skills which are much needed in the world we live in today.
“What started as a simple concept a few months ago, has now become a reality. This would not have been possible without the team behind it” that include Computer Schools for Malawi for donating and installing the computers in conjunction with Hitech (donation of a UPS).
Others were Round Table USA and Round Table Aloa for the funds donated. Luka profoundly the Minister for accepting to commission the ICT lab herself.
Tabler Jason Pereira, who was Mpemba ICT project co-convenor, quoted renowned global Bill Gates philanthropist as saying: ‘Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important’.
“I found that to be very fitting for today’s occasion and going forward,” Pereira said. “Whilst the new Mpemba ICT lab will provide opportunities for the children to develop new skills to take with them when they finally leave, principal Mike and his team of teachers will always be needed on their journey of reconstruction,” he said as recognition of the work and services the centre offers.
He called upon the fellow Tablers that what that are achieving as a team and very powerful and to never “ever doubt the significance of our efforts”.
“Mahatma Gandhi said ‘the future depends on what we do in the present’ [and] in RoundTable, the relationships we develop; the values that we learn and the experiences we share, should become part of who we are and have an impact on how we live.
“Tablers, our movement is strong! I stand here as a proud Tabler. Tablers, thank you and well done for all your effort and commitment,” Pereira saidFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :