People Matter, an independent organization that assists street kids to find new homes, has embarked on a special mission to rescue 200 street kids from the streets of Malawi to safer homes as a direct response to the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The organization which was founded by Michael Walker, a Yali RLC alumni, has since rescued and connected 15 street kids with new families as well as providing them with Covid-19 preventive messages and face masks and putting them back to school.
Walker said the government’s restriction and encouragement to Malawians to stay home in the wake the Covi-19 has rendered street kids hopeless as City Council authorities are evicting them from the streets and yet the kids have no homes to go to.
“Everyone is being encouraged to stay home but the street kids only have the streets as their home. This motivated our rescue mission,” said Walker.
According to Director of Child Development Affairs McKnight Kalanda, Blantyre, the commercial city and Lilongwe, the capital city have approximately 2,000 street children each while enumeration study in Mzuzu, the third city in northern Malawi, is yet to be released.
Out of these, 217 of the streets kids are completely homeless in Blantyre, 237 street more are equally live permanently in streets in Lilongwe while 360 children are estimated to also live permanently in the streets of Mzuzu.
Walker, once a street kid himself and now a University graduate in ICT says he is inspired by personal experience in the street kids’ rescue mission.
“I know how it feels being called a street rat, being beaten and chased down every single day,” he said.
Through a program called Street Kids Scholarship program, Michael aims at sending a minimum of 40 street kids to primary school using his personal resources.
Walker’s initiative has attracted the attention of some renowned charitable organizations such as Queens Samaritan Trust, Yohane Banda Foundation, and Mthuzi Network, a network of street kids’ rights organizations, who have committed to support his initiative.
Malawi, a Sub Saharan country branded the warm heart of Africa, had registered 56 COVID-19 cases as of 10th of May, 2020, with three deaths and 14 recovered cases. The pandemic has exposed a system failure regarding child welfare and protection.
Despite being a signatory to several protocols and ratifications that promote children welfare, there seem to be no tangible immediate solutions to the issue of street kids, hence authorities have found themselves in an awkward situation as they have at times used force to flush out street kids from the streets too but to nowhere.
Covid-19 has forced street kids in Malawi to be between a hard place and a rock, putting them at risk of losing their space in the streets they usually call home but with minimal alternatives for permanent homes.