NN Council, UNICEF, PACHI Child Marriages Project Phases Out This Month
After eight months of successful campaign on ending child marriages and harmful practices through a UNICEF funded project in Neno, stakeholders have hailed the project.
For example, Senior Chief Dambe has told Zodiak Online today Thursday, that the project which has been run by the Parent and Child Health Initiative (PACHI) has seen a significant decrease in number of child marriages and issues of gender based violence since it also used Youth Advocates drawn from their respective areas.
He said that through the project, parents in his area have realised the importance of sending their wards to school and take care of them, parting away with issues of child neglect.
"We are happy to see that my area is now becoming famous with school going children unlike in the pasta when mainly school drop outs and child marriages were rampant here," said the smiling Dambe.
He then called on Youth Advocates and Community Child Protection Workers (CPW's) to continue reporting issues of child marriages or any form of abuse.
In his remarks, a CPW Kondwani Luya said that through the project they have been able to work hand in hand with the Youth Advocates thereby making their work of identifying cases easier.
Taking his turn, Senior Chief Mlauli has vowed to dethrone any of his Group Village and Village Headmen who perpetrates any form of abuse towards children saying the vice is evil and ought to be uprooted.
Mlauli further warned parents against the tendency of running away from parental responsibility saying such behavior is fueling child marriages and exposing children to sexual exploitation and other unfriendly behaviors.
"We have found out that most men here just come and marry our women and because they are not from here, they abandon their children and worse still not schooling them which is not on, I will be punishing such parents," warned Mlauli.
Bright Khungwa a Youth Advocate from the area of Senior Chief Mlauli applauded the Chief for his role in ending child marriages citing the banning the all traditional initiation ceremonies.
Steve Donda from Chekucheku Youth Advocates team has since commended the police on its role of sensitising people on the ills of marrying off young ones saying now people are aware of the age limit of a child.
Neno police Officer-in-Charge Edwin Magalasi also took his time today explaining to the people the importance of reporting cases of gender based violence to the police saying their door is open and that the victim support unit is there to help solve their family matters.
Neno district Social Welfare officer Paul Sosono disclosed that this year from January to August, they have recorded fewer cases of child marriages thanks to the PACHI and UNICEF project.
"We are glad to report that we have registered 48 cases of child marriages this year compared to 82 of last year in the same period. All this is so because people are aware of the need to respect each other and these projects have helped a lot," said DSWO.
The Neno District Hospital staff are also on board the ship, trying to sensitise young girls on the need to patronize Youth Friendly Health Services so that they become conversant with the modern world in as far as accessing family planning methods is concerned.
Antony Sandiyang'ane heads the department and is encouraging the young stars to cultivate a behavior of seeking sexual reproductive health rights through the hospital so that they get insightful information.
At the meantime, the project is taking its final touches in all the four Traditional Authority's to remind them of their role as the project phases out.