What is Tikondane?
Tikondane is the project of Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa in Lilongwe, Malawi, that works with and for the children on/off the streets. We work with close to 700 children per year of which more than 400 are newcomers on the streets.
The main goal of Tikondane is to reintegrate the children back into their families and communities after having worked with them. In order to achieve this goal, Tikondane works towards creating a safe, child friendly and conducive environment at our transit shelter and in the families and communities that the children come from. Some of the main reasons which lead children into the streets are neglect, emotional abuse, peer pressure and difficult behaviour. Some are accused of practicing witchcraft while others are victims of trafficking and child labour.
Outreach on the streets
Tikondane works tirelessly to liberate the children from different forms of bondage. Through street outreach visits, children are educated on the dangers of street life and how to avoid crimes and are informed about the services that are offered by Tikondane in order to reunite them with their families. Apart from the street visits, Tikondane visits also the police cells where we provide the detained children with PSS (Psycho-social support) and plead for their cause so that they access justice. Continual meetings held with prosecutors and the police have had a great impact because currently there are fewer children detained compared to the previous years.
Our transit shelter welcomes and supports children in need. When they arrive at the shelter they show a wide range of difficult behaviours like stealing, fighting, insulting, sexual advances to each other, lack of respect for each other and for adults and at times they have no hope for the future. At the shelter they are provided with food, shelter, clothes, medical care and psychosocial support (PSS). According to the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI), PSS is ensuring that children have love, care and protection. It is a support for the emotional and social aspects of a child’s life, so that the child can live with hope and dignity.
Starting to see the future with hope
Little by little they start seeing their future unfolding with hope because they feel loved, appreciated, respected, trusted and listened to; they learn to participate in searching for a solution to their problem and are empowered with skills that help them regain their dignity.Eventually, they experience behavioural change and they are ready for reintegration.
While accompanying the children at our transit shelter, we visit their families and enter in reconciliation and a mediation process with them. During this time, we focus on best practices and empower parents and guardians with parental skills. Then a child and the family are prepared for a reunion. In 2017 more than 80% of the children we received and worked with were successfully reintegrated into their families, schools and communities and have settled down since.
The children in extreme danger in their home and environments as well as on the streets are reintegrated into the school system while we continue the mediation and reconciliation process with their families and communities. In 2017 we had 4 children who completed their tertiary level education and one who joined university.
From our experience of working with such children we have discovered that in order for them to reach their full potential all they need is love, care, support and encouragement. We feel happy and privileged to participate in making the miracles of love happen daily in the lives of the children.
More about Tikondane project: https://tikondane.wordpress.com/
Sr. Anna Apolinary Massawe, Lilongwe, Malawi