Rex Tikondane Kalima executive director of the organisation says the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected his organisation’s operations attesting to the fact that expected donor funds to roll out disability friendly projects have been put on hold. Kalima holds the view that Government should come up with a bail-out package for the less privileged that encompasses street kids and youths with disabilities in this pandemic period.
“COVID-19 has affected our operations very much in such a way that our education related project is now on hold with closure of schools. Noteworthy is an Adult Literacy project which we earmarked to roll out last April but hit a snag due to the prevailing conditions,” said Kalima.
He also noticed that closure of schools has created room for youth with disabilities to tarry in the streets, begging.
“Much as Government is putting measures to curb escalation of the pandemic but since most economic activities have slowed down, we have seen more youths with various disabilities flocking to the streets. In our view this is quite risky as they are prone to contracting the virus. Our request to Government is to set out a bailout package for these youths even for their immediate families that while schools remain closed they should engage in some economic activity.” He said.
In a separate Interview Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati said Government is aware of the tough economic conditions created by COVID-19 and is working on all modalities to lessen the burden.
“We have a number of programmes that are addressing such challenges. We have Social Cash Transfer Programme for instance and in fact soon we will roll out Urban Cash Transfer in Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba. Our focus will be in high density areas such as Ntopwa in Bangwe, Manase, Mgona-Mtsiliza, Mchengautuwa, part of Chikanda in Zomba and Chirimba in Blantyre.
“These are areas where children on the streets come from. We have records that very few of these street kids do not have parents but the rest do. So while Government is rolling out all these initiatives parents should take their rightful roles in protecting the children else we will invoke Child Protection Legislation of 2006,” said Kaliati.
FDYD officials with some youths at their base in Bangwe
The Minister also hinted that some street children who prove troublesome will be taken to rehabilitation centres while the rest are attached to various NGOs where they will be trained in various vocational skills.
The 2012 Disability Act urges Government to protect and promote economic rights of persons with disabilities which shall include:
“Creating a conducive environment for persons with disabilities for self-employment, entrepreneurship, and the development of cooperatives; and (/) promoting the employment of qualified persons with disabilities in the public and private sector, through appropriate policies and measures, which shall include affirmative action programmes and incentives,” reads the Act in part.
FDYD was established in July 2012 and is a youth-led disabled persons’ organisation, run by and for young disabled people in Malawi. FDYD is dedicated to achieving equality, inclusion and empowerment of disabled youth in Malawi.