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In Malawi, 1 in 5 children live without a biological parent. Many of these children grow up alone, facing poverty and exploitation without the protection of a safe and secure family.
As well as extreme poverty, the devastating HIV and AIDS pandemic has left a whole generation of already vulnerable children at risk of even greater suffering. HIV and AIDS-related illnesses claim the lives of 70,000 children every year and rob nearly one million children of either one or both parents. These children are left to cope alone and, without the support and care of parents or guardians, they are most vulnerable to child labour, exploitation, trafficking and abuse.
Many orphans and vulnerable children are left in the care of elderly relatives and older siblings. These families often find it hard to cope and are at risk of separation. Some children are forced to drop out of school to look for work as tobacco farmers or goat herders to help support their families. Many others have to move away from their families to find work in towns or cities. They end up working in badly-paid and demanding jobs as domestic workers and are highly vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and trafficking.
- 42% of the population live below the poverty line
- 1.3 million children are orphaned
- Nearly 30% of children are engaged in child labour
- Just over 50% of children get married before they are 18 years old
Source: EveryChild Malawi
Protecting HIV and AIDS orphans
To help combat the effects of the devastating AIDS pandemic, EveryChild is training service providers to improve access to care, support, treatment and protection for children who have been infected or orphaned by HIV and AIDS. We support families and communities looking after AIDS orphans by providing financial assistance as well as farming equipment. We have also set up community-based childcare centres which provide pre-school education to children who would otherwise have no opportunity to learn in a safe environment.
Fighting against child labour
EveryChild is working with communities and families to reduce the number of children who are forced into child labour. These children are most at risk of separation from their families and communities. To help local communities tackle this issue, EveryChild provides material and educational support to families at risk of separation and raises awareness of the issue of child labour amongst the community.
Onani - Malawi
Onani, 14 years, is employed as a cattle herder. In Malawi over a quarter of all boys aged 5-14 work, mostly in agriculture. Of all children employed in Malawi approximately 5 per cent never attend school. > Read Onani's story
Safeguarding children through Child Protection Units
Violence and abuse against children in Malawi is widespread. Sadly, the majority of cases go unreported. To protect children, EveryChild established Child Protection Units within police stations in three major regions. They have become instrumental in securing convictions for child abuse cases.
EveryChild is also training teachers, community-based organisations and local leaders in key child protection issues in order to reduce cases of child abuse. Child rights clubs have been set up to ensure that children have a voice and can play a part in decisions which affect their lives. The clubs are key to ensuring children are aware of their rights and that victims report abuse cases to the relevant authorities.