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”...
Great to hear from the team out on expedition in the Cairn Gorms with the group from 10th to the 16th October 2012. The group challenged themselves, made significant progress over the course of the week, and had time for reflection and personal goal setting....
We are just back from our 7 days and 6 nights out on expedition. This trip was spent in the Cairn Gorms which host 4 of the highest mountains in the UK.
A mixed bag of weather as you’d expect from Scotland. We experienced it all in the week.
We started off at a base camp not far from Braemar. The group arrived and set up camp. Camp consisted of three tipis and a kitchen area with a tarp tied to trees. The day stayed dry for us and we all enjoyed a warm meal whilst sitting watching the mountains. We spent the night in two tipis with fires going to keep us warm. A quiet night for all apart from the sounds of deer rutting through the night.
On day two we headed to an Abseil venue not far from Ballater. The group stepped out of their comfort zones by abseiling off a 50ft vertical rock face. Everyone had a go and many a second.
The weather was kind to us again on day two and although chilly, it stayed dry until the evening. We all cooked up a feast and spent this night in our tipis and tents.
Day three was the start of the expedition journey. We packed up camp and headed off further into the mountains. The weather was less than kind to us and the group battled through the rain all day. Everyone put in an amazing effort and kept in good spirits through the cold and wet times. We arrived at our wild camp spot and hit the jack pot with an empty bothy. We put on the log fire and everybody dried out and cooked a meal. We spent the evening inside the bothy reviewing the day and enjoying the fire. We all got into our tents that night warm and dry.
Day 4 we were headed to the top of a mountain. Luckily for us the weather was a bit drier. There was some wind and cloud but apart from this it was calm. The group got a good breakfast in them and then psyched themselves up for climbing 900m into the clouds. A challenging and rewarding day when we got a fantastic view from the top. Every minute or so the clouds would open and we could see for miles. The group descended on their own and made their way back to camp.
On day 5 we packed up our camp and started the next part of the journey. This was the group solo day and after the group descending the mountain on their own, the staff were happy to let the group explore their own route. The group spent the day walking through the mountains, navigating their way to their next wild camp spot. They stuck together in a strong team and did themselves proud.
On day 6 the group got up and got themselves packed and ready for the last bit of their journey. Having had 5 days of practice now, it was an impressive sight to see the group make their breakfast, break down camp and pack their bags. Very efficient! This was a solo walk, meaning the group got to walk individually. A fantastic way to have time to think in an amazing setting. We all met up back at the mobile bus and headed back to our original camp.
We spent the evening preparing and enjoying our celebration dinner. A Mexican Hotpot with homemade bread. The group got a camp fire on and we enjoyed an evening watching the millions of stars above our heads. It was -4 but the camp fire and tipi fire kept us cosy.
We woke up to a cold morning and packed up camp. Everyone enjoyed a warm breakfast and then it was time to head back home! An enjoyable trip with a great group
Venture Trust's 'Next Steps' women's programme was featured in the Herald newspaper on Tuesday 9th October 2012. Through discussions with three women who've taken part in the programme, the article highlights the life-changing impact of Venture Trust, and its relevance to the political climate emerging from the Commission on Women Offenders.
The article reports that it [the Next Steps programme] 'is the type of initiative likely to become more common in Scotland as its approach reflects many of the key recommendations put forward by former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini in her report on women offenders published in April.
One of its central aspects was the importance of addressing the high number of low-level women offenders who ended up in prison as a result of addiction, abuse and poor mental health. Responding to Dame Angiolini's report, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill stressed that for female offending to fall, vulnerable women needed help in tackling those issues'.
Margaret, one of the women featured in the article, describes standing terrified on the edge of a pier deciding whether or not to take the plunge. Today it's become a metaphor for her new confident approach to life.
"It was the most frightened I'd ever been. The rain was pouring down, the sky was black, the sea dark, yet I jumped.
"Now whenever I'm worried about doing something I think back to how I plucked up the courage to give the pier-jump a go and even though I'm anxious I know I can always try."
Homeless young people are being failed by a lack of support in overcoming inadequate life skills, a Scottish parliament committee has found.
Unsurprisingly, the recent expeditions have been.... wet. Here's a report from one of our short overnight expeditions, where everyone managed to stay positive despite the conditions.
After the last course, which involved a lot of very high winds, we headed out on Thursday for a short 1 night trip with the rain falling steadily. We picked up 8 young people in Sterling who were all ready and rearing to go despite how wet it was.
By the time the group had all changed into their kit, and we had walked to the campsite we were all starting to feel quite soggy, and the grassy area we had to camp on was covered in puddles. Amazingly as we set up camp, and then played some games there was absolutely no moaning about the weather and everybody was getting on really well.
The group’s fantastic attitude was maintained throughout the evening, with them almost achieving the amazing feat of finishing all the vegetables we had given them. The next morning we were greeted by a frost, but at least there was sunshine.
Again the group’s attitude shone as we finished the morning’s tasks. We then moved on to canoeing on the loch, which despite some of the group’s fears everybody participated in fully.
A change of clothes, and a good lunch then took us to the end of the course.
Well done to the whole group. The staff team were all really impressed with you attitudes, and we look forward to seeing you on a 7 day expedition sometime soon.