Lilongwe (Fides News Agency) - There are 15,000 children living on the streets in Malawi. A tragedy caused by poverty, family breakdown or HIV/AIDS. It is estimated that there are 1.2 million AIDS orphans in the country alone.The number of street children is increasing as growing food insecurity puts pressure on families. Poverty causes children to drop out of school and run away or be sent away from home.
Very often, street children join criminal gangs in order to survive. The youngest have to beg and steal to survive and are protected by older gang members in return. Even those who eventually manage to return to their families often continue to earn a living through street crime.
Over the years, the crimes attributed to these youth gangs have multiplied. Many Malawians now live in fear for their own safety and that of their property. The children, in turn, are abused by older youths, and as adults they fear being jailed for vagrancy, not to mention the girls who risk being sexually abused and exploited.
Among the initiatives dedicated to those affected is a project by the Community of Sant'Egidio to provide education and improve the welfare of street children in Lilongwe, the capital city.
During the inauguration of the House of Hope at Chitedze in Lilongwe, the regional coordinator Community of Sant'Egidio'sfor Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, and Tanzania, Paola Germano, expressed concern about the growing number of children living on the streets in the capital city of Malawi, stressing that it is time for the government and its partners to work together to address the problem.
"The problem of street children is very much felt in Malawi. And as the Community of Sant'Egidio, we see it as our duty to complement the government's efforts to solve the problem," said Paola Germano. "The street children are our sons and daughters. We must not abandon them". Sant'Egidio's project is initially scheduled for five years and will provide school and extracurricular education to 40 street children.
(LM) (Fides News Agency 11/10/2023)