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In Malambanyama village in Keembe, Chombo district, there exists a successful
concerned with the problem of Zambia’s street children
Development Aid from People to People (DAPP) is a Danish development project, which has now established itself in Zambia with a number of projects spread across the country. One of the most successful is the Children’s Town in Malambanyama, established in April 1990. There’s 75,000 street children in Zambia and for the last ten years, the Children’s Town project has won the hearts of many people in providing home and education for some of these street children.
Children’s Town is located 100 kms from Lusaka via Landless Corner, 45 kms off the Lusaka-Kabwe highway, to the west on the old Mumbwa gravel road.
The project, which started with one child in April 1990, today has 280 street children and orphans coming from various parts of the country. Most of the children have been sent there through the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services.
Mr Malufeyo Musukwa has been with the Children’s Town project since 1990, and he speaks proudly of its aims: «We want to train these street children so that they become useful citizens. We do this by providing them with education and vocational skills. If I have to leave this place, the only thing I will miss is the love I have for these reformed street children».
Musukwa is happy to see that children who have graduated from Children’s Town, want to remain at the project. Other have settled in surrounding villages, making their own way in life using the vocational skills they acquired whilst in Children’s Town, but constantly referring back to the project in time of need or difficulty. «This is their home. They like it and they won’t go just anywhere», says Mr Musukwa. «We cannot just throw them out».
Let’s consider the case of Andrew Mbewe who is in charge of the piggery project at Children’s Town. He arrived in 1992 and completed Grade Seven in school in 1996 and then followed courses in animal husbandry and farming skills. Andrew comes from neighbouring Kabwe where his parents live. He says: «I don’t visit my parents all that often because of pressure of work involved in looking after 15 pigs. I find it very exciting to work and live here in Children’s Town.» Andrew is perhaps a special case because he was able to come to Children’s Town by virtue of his mother, Milesi Mbewe, who worked for the DAPP frontline youth project in Mkushi in Central province. Musukwa speaks highly of Andrew, saying: «We are very happy that, although he’s rather slow to learn, he is now making a profit from the piggery».
Young people such as Andrew have gone through a five-year programme which incorporates pre-school and primary school education, vocational training in various skills such as animal husbandry, carpentry, home economics, vegetable gardening and farming, etc. Farming is one of Children’s Town’s main activities, with 40 hectares under cultivation for maize, sunflower and soyabeans.
The children follow a one-and-a-half years junior vocational course in mixed farming, with emphasis on crop production. Those in Grade Seven sit for the Government Primary School Leaving Certificate and «we have had children who have gone on to secondary schools with good results».
One such success story is that of Marvellous Katebe who comes from Chingola in Copperbelt province. He is now in Grade Nine at the Serenje Secondary School in Central province. After leaving Children’s Town, Katebe went to sit for his government Grade Seven examinations in Nodal in 1996. Katebe has not specifically programmed his education, saying: «I plan for a lot of things. I admire a lot of things I could do in life but I have not yet made up my mind what I want to be in the future».
Because of the young people’s background when they were associated with drugs, crime and prostitution before coming to Children’s Town, discipline has to be strictly enforced for both borders and day students coming from the surrounding villages. Musukwa explains: «Naturally we have a number of cases to deal with such as stealing. When such problems arise, we try to find a solution through counselling within the specific family group which each young person belongs to in Children’s Town. Here, we don’t beat the offenders, because that is not an answer. You must have your heart in the right place when dealing with these children and their problems. When we can’t make any headway, then we refer the case to the Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare in Lusaka for their advice and help.
Side by side with the Children’s Town project is the Child Aid Chibombo (CAC). The project was started in 1991 to empower rural families to improve their living conditions, especially for the sake of the children, in terms of health, education, food security. Its project manager (Malufeyo Musukwa), says: «This is a three-year project involving 300 family members to educate mothers about health and hygiene matters, so that their children can be protected from preventable diseases such as malaria and diarrhoea».
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