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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                             

Republic of Malawi

Landlocked Malawi ranks among the world's most densely populated and least developed countries. The economy is predominately agricultural with about 85% of the population living in rural areas. Agriculture accounts for more than one-third of GDP and 90% of export revenues. The performance of the tobacco sector is key to short-term growth as tobacco accounts for more than half of exports.

The government faces many challenges including developing a market economy, improving educational facilities, facing up to environmental problems, dealing with the rapidly growing problem of HIV/AIDS, and satisfying foreign donors that fiscal discipline is being tightened.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Malawi

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Malawi.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspect(s) of street life are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got there, how they survive, and how some manage to leave the street.  Perhaps your paper could focus on how some street children abuse the public and how they are abused by the public … and how they abuse each other.  Would you like to write about market children? homeless children?  Sexual and labor exploitation? begging? violence? addiction? hunger? neglect? etc.  There is a lot to the subject of Street Children.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


More street children as Malawi food crisis deepens

afrol News (African News Agency), 5 February

[accessed 17 June 2011]

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly also be accessible [here]

Grinding poverty, family breakdown and HIV/AIDS are among the main reasons why children come onto the street in Malawi.  It is estimated that 80 percent of the street children in Malawi are orphaned by HIV/AIDS. But as the food crisis has deepened, it is currently the main reason that children are coming onto the street in Blantyre.

Life on the streets

[Last access date unavailable]

Mavuto, not his real name, is fourteen-years-old.   Born in Neno, his parents died two years ago. Consequently his frail grandmother assumed the responsibility of taking care of Mavuto and his two young siblings.   Mavuto says that lack of food and other basic amenities forced him to leave the village and start a new life as a street beggar in the city of Blantyre.   As a result he has been a consistent beggar for close to two years, moving through the streets, begging for change.   “I do not have any place I call home. Most of the times, I sleep without any covers together with my friend in that restaurant,” says Mavuto, pointing in the direction of an old tin-made structure.   “Older boys and minibus touts often beat us up and rob us of our meager resources,” he admits.

Last week Mavuto was raped and sodomized by two men.   “It was on Wednesday around midnight when two men entered our shelter and asked for a space to sleep,” he explains.   “Almost immediately they produced knives and ordered me to undress. When I tried to protest they threatened to kill me if I refused or shouted out,” says Mavuto.   As he talks Mavuto bows his head, his eyes cast down, sweater shielding his young face.   “Then they introduced their members into my anus. One after another. I was sodomized right in my room,” he says.   But it wasn’t the first time. And according to Mavuto, he isn’t the only young boy on the streets in Blantyre to experience this.   “When I was just a novice beggar I was also sexually assaulted, that was before I knew that these things happen,” says Mavuto, who never reported the rapes to the police.   “I live in a very dangerous environment,” he admits.


*** ARCHIVES ***

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 19 February 2011]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - A 1999 study estimated the number of children on the streets of three major cities to be roughly 2,000.  Approximately 22 percent of primary school age girls were not in school, and another 60 percent of those enrolled were found not to attend school regularly.  Indirect costs of education, family illnesses, and lack of interest in education are lowering school attendance

CURRENT GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND PROGRAMS TO ELIMINATE THE WORST FORMS OF CHILD LABOR - The Ministry also collaborates with stakeholders to form the National Task Force on Children and Violence, which deals with child labor as well as other threats to children’s health and well being.  Street children receive assistance through the Department of Social Welfare and the Ministry of gender, Child Welfare, and Community Services.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 10 February 2020]

CHILDREN - More than half of the country's children lived in poverty, mostly in rural areas. Children in rural households headed by women were among the poorest. Only one‑third of children had ready access to safe drinking water, infant mortality was high, and child malnutrition was a serious problem. On June 21, the government launched a National Plan of Action for Orphans and Vulnerable Children to mitigate the impact of poverty and HIV/AIDS on the country's estimated one million orphans.

A few charitable organizations attempted to reduce the number of child beggars in urban areas; however, the problem of street children worsened as the number of orphans whose parents died from HIV/AIDS increased. Extended family members normally cared for such children and other orphans.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1 February 2002

[accessed 19 February 2011]

[53] While noting the challenging socio‑economic situation, the Committee remains concerned at the increasingly high number of children who do not enjoy their right to an adequate standard of living, including children belonging to poor families, AIDS orphans, street children and children living in remote rural areas.  In addition, the Committee is concerned at the lack of a social security system that would ensure access to health services for children.

[65] The Committee expresses its concern at the increasing number of street children and at the lack of specific policies and programs to address this situation and to provide those children with adequate assistance.

Vasco's Story: Running to Stand Still

Cathleen Falsani, Huffington Post, Blantyre, October 29, 2007

[accessed 17 June 2011]

They said to be careful, to not get too close, to not let "it" get to me, to not become overwhelmed or "too emotional."  After about three weeks of behaving myself and keeping my head and heart in check while traveling through east Africa, I did exactly what they said not to do.  I fell in love. Hopelessly, helplessly, achingly in love.  His name is Vasco. He's 10. It was love at first sight on my part, though I can't speak for the Malawian child who has broken my heart with his.

Street kids miss family values

Duncan Mlanjira, The Daily Times, 16 July 2007

[accessed 18 January 2017]

“From what we have discovered, most of these children are not orphans, they have parents whose marriages broke up.  “Most of them are from single parent homes and are encouraged to go into the streets to beg because they are not well provided for at their homes,” he said.  He said it was wrong to give the children money because such handouts encouraged them to stick to the streets.

Miss Malawi 1st Princess to educate street kids

Marcus Muhariwa, 05 December 2006

[accessed 18 January 2017]

Almost clocking six months basking in the glory of being Malawi’s 1st Princess, Tusekile Wilkinson has dedicated all her energy during her reign to change the lives of street children in Lilongwe by sending them to school.

“I have learnt that not all children that we see loitering in the streets of our cities and towns are orphans. They have parents and guardians and these people simply don’t have the capacity to support the children’s education and provide them with the necessities,” she said.

Lilongwe street children get new home

Dickson Kashoti,  06 November 2006

[accessed 18 January 2017]

The population of street children in Lilongwe is expected to go down following the construction of a K11 million Chisomo Children’s Club, which officially opened its doors on Saturday amid concerns of rampant abuse of children in the country.

Kaluluma said she was concerned with reports that some watchmen in Lilongwe were cashing in on street children by charging a fee when the street kids sleep on the verandas of shops.  “The government would take drastic action against such watchmen. There is no need to charge these poor children, the government would not sit back and watch,” warned Kaluluma.

Lack of love in homes increasing street children

Chikumbutso Ndaferankhande , 20 October 2006

[accessed 18 January 2017]

One of the facilitators Phoebe Kufeyani said unfair and biased treatment of orphans by guardians in homes force them join the streets. She added in the face of HIV and AIDS, orphan hood was on the increase. She decried the tendency of property grabbing by relations, which makes the deceased children poor.

Street children to benefit from Scout Extension Project

Patrick Msowoya, 04 September 2006

[accessed 18 January 2017]

Hundreds of street children in Lilongwe would from this month benefit from a Scout Extension Project under Gift of Peace where the children, most of them orphans, will receive voluntary education.

Chiefs Commissioner for Scouts Association of Malawi Evans Mphalasa said this on Saturday during launch of the project. He said his association has targeted a number of street kids who will go under formal training aimed at incorporating them back into society.

Mphalasa said during the initial pilot phase for the project, the Scout Association of Malawi intends to identify over 40 children who will be taught life skills under a number of scouts clubs currently operating in the city.

CHILD DAY concentrates on street children

Deborah Nyangulu, 15 May 2006

[accessed 18 January 2017]

This year’s International Day of the Child, which falls on June 16, would concentrate on the street kid, Minister of Gender, Child Welfare and Community Services Joyce Banda has said.  Banda made the revelation last week when she lunched with street kids supported by a Farmer’s World feeding programme under the Support the Child initiative.  The Gender Minister said street kids face a lot of hardships but get very little help because they are only deemed as street criminals.

Handouts encouraging street kids

Jacob Nankhonya, 25 April 2006

[accessed 18 January 2017]

The tendency by rich people to give out money and gifts to youngsters is one of the factors encouraging kids to be on the street.

Consortium for Street Children – Malawi

Consortium for Street Children UK

[accessed 17 June 2011]

The rise in street children numbers is the result of worsening economic conditions aggravated by the breakdown of extended family structures and the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. An estimated 25% of the urban population is infected with HIV; there are an estimated 1.2 million children orphaned

Our work with victims of abuse

Rita Hieble, Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa MSOLA, Lilongwe

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 17 June 2011]

STREET CHILDREN IN MALAWI - Some people think that they help these children by giving them money, but that undermines our objective, which is to reintegrate them into society. Parents no longer have authority over their children because they can too easily obtain money by begging. Other parents encourage their children to beg because they receive more than adults do in their work. The young mendicants are often forced to support the older children and even the adults with the results of their begging.

True Stories - Street children in Malawi

Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa MSOLA

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 17 June 2011]

Emmanuel problems with stealing / Maloyano stole food / Doreen, an orphan accused of witchcraft./ Nakiline, an adolescent mother, raped /

Child Labour Rages On In Malawi

Charles Ba, News from Africa, 10 March 2011

[accessed 17 June 2011]

Poverty and cheap labor are factors that have fueled child labor in the country. Child labor has deprived the Malawian society of a skilled and educated workforce for the future and so perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

Street Children – The Situation by Martyna Bec

[access information unavailable]

Martyna Bec’s report highlights the situation facing many children in Malawi and the harsh life they are forced to lead.

Street Children's Ministry — Blantyre, Malawi

The Salvation Army, Blantyre

[accessed 17 June 2011]

Every Wednesday lunchtime eight dedicated young people from Blantyre City corps (church) distribute food to 80 - 100 vulnerable children. Some have become orphaned because of HIV/AIDS or Malaria, or as a direct result of last year's food shortage in the country when many fled the village areas looking for food and shelter in the city of Blantyre, finding neither when they arrived.

Malawi: The Word on the Streets

Heather Loomes, The Salvation Army


[accessed 25 September 2011]

The number of children varies. Often there are up to 60 or so children, and other weeks there are fewer. On arrival, two helpers walk around the railway the market finding the children and telling them we are by station. There are also around 20 adults who know they will be offered food if there is any left after the children have been served. Many of the adults are blind and several have other physical disabilities. I never saw them go without any food.

Man Utd Help Malawi Street Kids

BBC News, 10 June, 2003

[accessed 17 June 2011]

Since 1998, the club has worked to enable hundreds of children to return to school or start apprenticeships in skills such as carpentry and metal work.  Many of these children have also been reunited with families.


[accessed 17 June 2011]

[accessed 24 December 2016]

BACKGROUND - The need for the establishment of the orphanage arose due to the high rate of HIV/Aids infection in the country, which is continuing to rob many children of their parents. The extended family system in Malawi has largely collapsed, and HIV has become the single biggest cause of death among Malawians between the ages of 15 and 49 years old (the child-bearing years for women).

Due to the fact that many other orphanages would not admit babies because of the cost, and the fact that it is labour-intensive, Kondanani embarked on admitting such babies rather than leaving them to die in the villages. The first baby was admitted to Caring Hands Infant Home on 7 November 1998.

Our criteria for selecting the children are: that all our children come from poor families, only babies below the age of 6 months are admitted, every child is either affected or infected by the HIV/Aids pandemic.

Hundreds of children are orphaned or abandoned in Malawi everyday. HIV/AIDS has reached epidemic levels. Mothers who have contracted HIV often die during childbirth. Those that don't die, often abandon their children in the hope that they will be found by someone who will be able to care for them.

SOS Children in Malawi

SOS Children's Villages

[accessed 17 June 2011]

At the beginning of 2002, SOS Malawi reacted to the growing AIDS epidemic with a community outreach program, which is coordinated by the SOS Social Center in Lilongwe. Through this, local families and children that are directly or indirectly affected by HIV/AIDS are supported within their familiar environment through the provision or improvement of housing, food and medical aid, the payment of school fees and general psychosocial support.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Street Children - Malawi",, [accessed <date>]