Our Africa Director, Oswald Malunda, spends time each year visiting our partners in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe, and meeting the children and young people we support. Here he reflects on some of his memories from 2018.
In March, I visited one of our Kids’ Clubs in Malawi and saw the young boy above take part in an activity similar to one many of you will remember from your childhood. As he looks to the other members of his Kids’ Club and has the confidence to fall back into their arms, he shows so much of what we want for every child; a support system they can trust and the skills and belief in themselves to succeed.
When a child is vulnerable, they can very quickly lose hope. They are often dealing with emotional issues that are beyond their years and it can be very difficult for them to talk about their situation, or have access to people who can help. Without this, we know that vulnerable children become more isolated, lonely and even more at risk.
For every one of these children, our aim is to provide them with educational, social and economic opportunities so they can build a future for themselves. Together with our partners, we have developed a way of doing this through seven sustainable, community-focused programs.
Our Kids’ Club Program is one of them. Through it we establish after-school and weekend clubs that give vulnerable children from ages six to sixteen a safe place to learn and play, without fear of stigma, abuse or exploitation. The Clubs are run by community volunteers who we train in counseling and who build the children’s self-esteem and life skills through specially designed activities.
This involvement of the community is crucial to the longevity of the Kids’ Clubs and is a core element of everything we do. Thanks to the time and energy of the volunteers, children start working together, creating new friendships and receiving support.
In November, I visited another Kids’ Club in Tanzania and met 16-year-old Rachel*. She read to us from her ‘Memory Book’, an exercise designed to encourage children to talk about their lives and the challenges that they have overcome. Rachel spoke about her parents’ separation and her feelings of sadness, but how counseling and finding new friends who have faced similar challenges has helped her to know she is not alone;
“The Kids’ Club helps us to support one another. It helps us to deal with our problems together. Before we had no one to help us… and that is important to us.”
At WeSeeHope, our aim is to reach many more children like Rachel and make sure they have the support and help they need to succeed – we would love if you would help us to do this by getting involved with what we do.
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