TCF’s Malengo Mamas and Babas are unsung heroes and are perfect examples of how “the ripple effect” is taking place in our community. The men and women in this group volunteer their time to ensure the safety and well-being of the children in their villages. Malengo means “we have a plan” in Swahili and is used as a phrase of empowerment. Over the past five years, TCF has supported the group’s goals by providing them with training in child welfare, mental health, and children’s rights.
“Most importantly, the Mamas and Babas are a constant, trusted and respected voice in their villages, who speak out for children’s rights and fight for their safety and care.”
Over the past 6 months alone, we have seen the number of participants in this program almost double. But it’s the group’s impact that is growing even faster. Leading the Malengo Mama’s and Baba’s fight to change the community’s perception of children’s rights, is RVCV’s Counselor and Child Protection Officer, Betty Mwaikuka. Betty, whose job is to ensure that all 800 students at Gyetighi Primary and Oldeani Secondary Schools feel safe and secure both at home and at school, works with Malengo group members to provide immediate support to students who have been neglected or abused.
Under Betty’s guidance, the Mamas and the Babas also serve as advocates for local students by actively monitoring children’s health conditions, watching for signs of physical and sexual abuse, and reporting any signs of wrongdoing to the counselors at RVCV and the office of Child Welfare and Rights in Karatu. They educate community members on strategies for ending cycles of abuse and provide parents with information on how to best care for their children, including lessons on improving their children’s hygiene, first aid for wounds and injuries, and disease prevention.
With Betty providing counseling at school and the Mamas and Babas continuing that work in their villages, we are helping provide all of the children in our community with a solid and safe foundation on which to lead happy, healthy lives.