Mwai Wosinthika Graduation Ceremony
We're delighted to have this update from Greg Watson, Community Links & Outreach Officer at Venture Trust's Moving On: Malawi programme, about our Mwai Wosinthika (a chance for change) graduation ceremony.
This graduation event was the culmination of three months of Venture Trust's work with Malawi Police Service's Crime Management Unit, Juvenile Prosecution Team and Community Police Officers. It had the support of Venture Trust’s patron in Malawi, Dr Mary Shawa (Principal Secretary for the The Ministry of Gender, Children & Community Development), and was held in conjunction with our 'celtic cousins' at the Irish Rule of Law. This was Malawi’s first ever diversion programme under the criteria set out by the new Child Justice Act as per the Malawi Constitution, running for three months at the Victim Support Unit in Lilongwe Model Police Station. There were over 20 participants who engaged and had been diverted from the Child Justice court, the police custody cells and off the streets. Some mothers even brought their own sons!
Mr. Nelson Bophani – Commissioner for Police for Central Region - welcomed attendees to the event:
Good afternoon, I would like to welcome you all to the inaugural Mwai Wosinthika Graduation Ceremony. The ceremony has been organised by Venture Trust, Irish Rule of Law International and the Malawi Police Services. I would like to applaud them for their hard work and efforts. “Mwai Wosinthika” aims to give young people the chance or opportunity to change in both their circumstances but perhaps more importantly and more empowering by giving the responsibility and therefore a choice about wanting to make a change in their behaviour and therefore how they deal with life’s problems. One major consequence of which it is hoped will be the reduction in numbers of young people that are placed in custody so that they can continue to learn in school or become productive members of their community and Malawian Society. I ask you to join with me today in praising these young men who have worked hard at successfully completing the training course. Let us all support these young men as they continue on their journey to improve their lives and to implement their ‘Dongo Solos’. Thank you
The main focus of the programme is to support participants to begin to think about what they want in their lives, and how they are going to overcome challenges to reach their goals. Towards the end of the course young people are invited by a Chief Makanga of a local mountain N’Gala (and later to Mt Mulanje for the leaders). Venture Trust firmly believes that this different environment gives young people time and space to reflect on their lives in the city and make plans for their future.
As well as facilitation by police officers Sub Inspector Chimbaya, Constable Chaonaine and Social workers (and in particular Mr Chosa Sakwiya), the young people were led by 'graduates' who had previously been in conflict with the law and had previously attended a “mwai wosinthika” course run by Venture Trust. On return they make a commitment to themselves and their family and friends that they will continue to make a change in their lives. Of course they will need support in this which is where their nominated friend or mentor will be available to assist and guide.
Looking forwards, as well as rolling this programme model out to other Police regions via partnerships there is a plan to undertake a Restorative Justice “mwai wosinthika” programme at Chinsapo (one of Lilongwe’s most notorious troubled townships).
Watch this space for more participants taking “mwai wosinthika”...