The COVID-19 is fast spreading in many cities of Malawi, a vast majority of citizens in the country are taking further steps in trying to protect themselves and their communities.
For Charles Lupe, aged 16, the current situation is challenging and dangerous. Charles lives in Blantyre, together with his two siblings, he moves into the city to beg for food and money, they do jobs in local markets on daily basis.
When asked about COVID-19, Charles said that he is fully aware of the pandemic and that he is taking proper measures to protect himself and his two siblings.
For instance, Charles always uses hand sanitizers that are readily available on many bank’s Auto Teller machines (ATM) found within the city.
“It’s given that everyone has to be using hand sanitizers, but because of lack of enough money to buy portable bottles of hand sanitizers, we always opt to use resources that perhaps the city council or banks has made them to be of public use. Accessing ATM hand sanitizers is not challenging as compared with begging money from people, most people especially security officers often allows us to use this resource,” he said.
Mercy Manda, aged 8, says she always walks with a soap tablet that she received from a shop owner who once sympathised with her. She says she knows the importance of washing hands with soap as demonstrated by health officials who once visited the city grounds.
Fortunately, the Blantyre District Social Welfare has been engaged in a program of identifying street kids in the city. The main aim of this initiative is to gather together all the children together and equip them with materials and information in line with the pandemic.
Joseph Stephano, a Social Welfare officer in Blantyre, says the initiative has been a success since its establishment. He says that the office has also been providing soap, water disinfectors and mosquito nets as one way of cushioning the street kids.
“For now, the program is going very fine and soon, with the coming of Urban Cash Transfer programme, we are hoping that many more households of street-connected children homes will be targeted. We are also conducting awareness campaigns in different hotspots in an effort to reach every street kid with information about the pandemic,” he said.
Meanwhile, various social commentators have commended the local authorities and the government for considering the street children in this difficult time. Enditem