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Dedza, Malawi- Late last year, Kingsley Bizwick dropped out of a school to join a gang in his community that was notorious for doing all the bad things in the neighbourhood.  His father, Mr. Harry Bizwick tried to talk him out of the gang but with little success.

“He started smoking and would also come home drunk,” said Mr. Bizwick from Makankula village in Dedza. “I could see myself losing my son.”

In desperation, Mr. Bizwick reached out for help to one of the counsellors working under the UNFPA supported Safeguard Young People programme funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Luckily, the programme was organizing a training on parent-child communication and Mr. Bizwick was invited as a participant.  During the five-day training, Mr. Bizwick concedes that he learnt a whole lot on parenting than his combined 20 years of being a father.

Mr. Bizwick explaining how the SYP programme has helped him to become a better parent
©UNFPA/Joseph Scott

“I didn’t know that being a parent is not about bulldozing my children to agree with me every time,” he explained. “In fact, I learnt that I have to listen to them as well. If they feel undervalued, they rebel to show their dissatisfaction.”

When Mr. Bizwick went back home after the training, he called his family together and shared with them what he had learnt.  For him, it was more than talking, but also living what he had learnt.

“I tried to become a much responsible father to set a good example for my son and daughter,” he said. “Within some weeks, my family was talking to each other more frequently and Kingsley started disassociating himself with the gang.”

When schools opened, Kingsley asked his father to go back to school. Now, he has enrolled and will write his primary school leaving certificate next year.

This is one of the testimonies given by a happy father during the visit of the His Excellency Stephane Rey, Swiss Ambassador to Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe in Dedza to the SYP programme implementation site.  H.E Rey had a brief but fruitful visit to the district where he interacted with youth groups working of sexual reproductive health and climate change mitigation, the community and implementing partners.

In his remarks, H.E Rey said he had read so much about the SYP programme and was impressed with what it was achieving especially at policy level and also its impact on the communities. He added that his Government will continue to support the SYP programme.

“I am very humbled with what I have seen and I’m 100 percent confident that what we are trying to do in Africa, is starting here,” he said.  “I am really of our support and all for implementing our commitment. This was a short visit but given me a lot of stones to build new bridges.”

Assistant Representative for UNFPA Malawi, Ms. Dorothy Nyasulu expressed gratitude for the support from the SDC saying this has been catalytic in ensuring young people in Malawi access quality sexual reproductive and health services.

UNFPA Assistant Representative, Dorothy Nyasulu said her organization appreciated the support from SDC ©UNFPA/Joseph Scott

In Malawi, the SYP programme is implemented in six districts of Nkhatabay, Dedza, Mchinji, Mangochi, Chiradzulu, and Chikwawa. It was designed to empower young people, reduce HIV and other STIs, early and unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions, early marriages, gender-based violence, harmful traditional practices and to promote gender equity and protective sexual behaviours.

By Joseph Scott, Communications Analyst