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Category Lusubilo Orphan Care

Children and Caregivers at Lusubilo ECD Centre
Understanding Risks and Protective factors in child protection; tips for Child Care Institutions (CCIs)

Vitumbiko Ngwira*  

Child protection unavoidably involves uncertainty, ambiguity and fallibility. The world rightly expects high standards from child protection workers in Child Care Institutions in ensuring that children are at all times in a safe environment, but achieving this is not an easy task. Well, before going further it is good to note that there is no single known cause of child abuse and neglect; it occurs across all socioeconomic, religious, cultural, racial, and ethnic groups. Child Care Institutions must ensure that they conduct periodic child protection risk assessment to ensure that children are at all times safeguarded against harm. This short reflection can also be beneficial to ECDs, primary and secondary schools, churches or any other place that looks at the welfare of children. It’s always important to keep in mind that the aim is not just to minimize the danger to children but rather to maximize their welfare. Let us look at some key areas of risk assessment for child protection.

Children and Caregivers at Lusubilo ECD Centre
Children and Caregivers at Lusubilo ECD Centre

Always have enough and qualified staff to ensure that children are given good attention at all times. Lack of enough and qualified staff is a risk factor for the protection of children. The responsibility of protecting children from harm requires an institution to have competent people in child protection. It is not enough just to have many staff in a CCI, but it is imperative to have staff with knowledge about child protection. This gives them confidence to provide protection to children at all times. In order to enhance knowledge in child protection, institutions need to organize continuous trainings to their staff and children on child protection. Understaffing in a CCI is huge risk factor for child protection. This becomes even worse when the few existing staff do not have the right qualification to adequately protect children from harm.

Special needs children require extra attention to ensure that they are safe at all times. Special needs increase caregiver’s work. Examples of special needs in CCIs may include children with mental health issues, and chronic physical illnesses. As an institution it is always important to assess your capacity for taking care of children with special needs. Lack of adequate capacity in handling special needs cases might lead to more harm to the children.

Having children under the age of 4 is another risk factor that CCIs need to pay particular attention to. The admission conditions to CCIs of these children are solely based on the fact that there is no close relative who can offer good care for their upbringing and in this case CCIs become a safer environment for their upbringing. Normally, Under 4 children require extra care which will be difficult if your institution does have enough staff to take care of them.   

Lack of clear child protection policy is also another huge risk factor for the protection of children in CCIs. A child protection policy gives guidance to caretakers on how they can best create a safe environment for children. CCIs must ensure that they have a working Child Protection Policy in place. The policy should be oriented to all staff members and all children.

Having looked at some of the risk factors it is important to also look at some protective factors for children in CCIs.

CCIs need protective factors to buffer children from abuse and neglect. These include having caring caretakers who put the welfare of children at the centre of everything. Caring caretakers can help children to be resilient and have ability to cope with any situation that exposes them to risks. Caring caretakers can help children to have self-esteem, cultivate a sense of independence, and positive attitude.

CCIs need to offer a good environment for the safety of children. For example they must ensure that any electrical appliances are far from reach of children. They must also ensure that children have enough space in their rooms to avoid congestion.

Preparation for any danger is a very important protective factor. CCIs should invest in preventive measures for any potential danger. For example, fire drilling sessions should be conducted to all workers and there should also be provision for fire assembly points within the CCIs.

In conclusion, understanding the risk and protective factors for child abuse and neglect is important for developing effective prevention interventions in CCIs.

The Author is Director of Lusubilo Community Care

Participants pose after Graduation Model workshop
Lusubilo Community Care Pilots Graduation Model

By Vitumbiko Ngwira

Graduating the ultra poor from their desperate living conditions has been the main goal of Lusubilo Community Care over the past 20 years. Many people have seen their lives improving through the various interventions by the organization.

From humble beginnings of late Sr. Beatrice Chipeta, the organization has matured in development interventions, reaching out to 3 districts, and targeting more than 50,000 vulnerable people annually, especially orphans.

In pursuit for sustainability of its interventions, the organization is in its final stages to commence a pilot project called “The Graduation Model Approach”. The approach presents a transformative model contrary to the conventional safety nets that only provide short term support to the poor.

The model will target 1,000 beneficiaries in 4 impact areas; Livingstonia in Rumphi District, Kakoma in Karonga District, Chisenga and Kameme in Chitipa District. The pilot project will largely lean on 4 main pillars; consumption support, livelihoods promotion, social empowerment and financial inclusion.

With the graduation model, the organization hopes to strengthen family resilience, enable the parent to provide for and protect their children by making sure that they are adequately fed, educated and have a sense of hope and positivity for the future.

No Food No Education: Lusubilo’s School Feeding Programme Promoting Education

By Tilekeni Kaunda

Lusubilo Community Based Programmes in partnership with Catholic Relief Services has been implementing school feeding program in Karonga Diocese through HOPE Project with support from Coppel Family in Mexico.

The project is supporting 43 primary schools, 3 secondary schools and 315 Community Based Child Care Centres (CBCCs) with Likuni Phala flour for porridge preparation. This year the project has reached out to more than 20,000 children with the provision of Likuni Phala.

School Feeding Programme keeping children in school
School Feeding Programme keeping children in school

The project comes in to curb the challenges that families face in sending children to school. Before the project, children would not go to school consistently because of lack of food in their homes or, sadly, they would go to school on empty stomach.  

Since Lusubilo started the program, there have been many positive outcomes in the supported schools. According to head teachers, the program has improved performance of learners since most of them don’t miss classes. Furthermore, it has increased learners’ retention at school. The provision of porridge at school has also reduced dropout rate.

Apart from improving nutrition and health, the project has also increased access to, and achievement in, education. It is also acting as an incentive for parents to consistently send their children to school.

In a similar program, Lusubilo also collaborates with Karonga Diocese’ Sunday School feeding intervention, which reaches to 28,992 children in a year in all parishes of Karonga Diocese.

Lusubilo is also working with these families, through its Sustainable Options Recommended for Testing program, in empowering them to cultivate enough food for their families.

Lusubilo’s Visitors from Malta Support Vulnerable Households

By Kondwani Nyasulu

In July, 2019, Lusubilo received visitors from Malta; a team of three ladies namely Martha, Ramona and Stelvana who have come to spend their precious time with children in the children home of Lusubilo.  

The three spent their time taking care of children by bathing, feeding, and playing different games with them as well as providing the much need psychosocial support.

One of the beneficiary households who received the food items under Njalayamoto CBO
One of the beneficiary households who received the food items under Njalayamoto CBO

Understanding that Lusubilo works with communities, the visitors felt the need to extend their love to orphans in the communities by supporting them with food items. The package comprised of a 50 Kg bag of maize, 10 Kgs beans and 2 litres of vegetable cooking oil per household.

The visitors have supported a total of 31 households that were identified by CBO members after a thorough assessment on the most vulnerable households.

On the first day, the team went to St Steven’s Parish in Nyungwe where 7 households were given the food support. The needy families were identified from Chipulikano and Njalayamoto CBOs. On the second day, 7 households were supported at St Steven’s Parish targeting Chitemwano and Kakoma CBOs. On third day, 17 households at St Mary’s Parish were given the food support.

The food support will help the guardians to be able to feed the orphan children under their care. This complemented Lusubilo’s efforts in to reach out to needy families. Most of these families keep orphans and others have an elderly person taking care of the family with no means of earning to be food secure.  The families and the community are very grateful to the visitors Malta and the support of the food items they have received.

The management of Lusubilo is also thankful for the good gesture the visitors from Malta have shown in supporting the vulnerable households and special thanks to Fr Joseph Sikwese of St Mary’s Parish for bringing us the visitors to support our work.

Lusubilo Community Based Orphan Care works with communities in the Diocese of Karonga to alleviate the suffering of vulnerable people. With support from well-wishers, the project supports orphans and other vulnerable children by providing them with basic needs.

An elderly woman who keeps orphans thanking the team on the support given at Kasantha
An elderly woman who keeps orphans thanking the team on the support given at Kasantha
Some of the household who benefited from the donation at Chitemwano CBO in St Stevens Parish
Some of the household who benefited from the donation at Chitemwano CBO in St Stevens Parish
A Flame of Charity Goes Off: Sr. Chipeta Goes to the Father

By Moses Raymond Kamanga*

Scores of people woke up to the sudden demise of Sister Beatrice Chipeta founder of Lusubilo Orphan Home Based Care and Village. The Wednesday morning of 19th of June, bright as it promised, went dark; the flame of charity grew weaker and weaker and went off at sunrises at Karonga District Hospital where she was rushed after a sudden illness.

Born in 1942 at Echiziweni Village in Mzimba District, Sr Beatrice, born a Presbyterian, was baptized in the Catholic Church on 23 September in 1958. Later, she joined the Congregation of Sisters of the Holy Rosary and took her first vows on 8 December, 1962.

As a Sister of the Holy Rosary, Sr. Beatrice trained in Primary education, qualified
and taught for 33 years before she retired in 1993. She then went to Tanzania for a course in counselling and 1997 she set up Lusubilo Home Based Care and Village through which she gained special recognition; one of such being the Opus Prize she received in 2010.

Despite touching thousands of lives through her initiative, in many interviews and conversations, Sister Beatrice never mentioned her name but that of Christ in all the achievements.

The 77 year old nun, has been described by many as “Mother Theresa” of our time due to her selfless approach to charity and prayer. She served as a nun for 57 years and till her death she has been the Director of Lusubilo Home Based Orphan Care and Village. Laid to rest on Thursday, 20th of  June, 2019 at Katoto cemetery after requiem mass held at St. Peters Cathedral in Mzuzu Diocese, Sr. Beatrice has been mourned by people from all walks of life as a woman of all people.

May her Soul rest in God’s Eternal Peace.


*The author is the Press Officer for the Diocese of Karonga

8 members of the Review Board on Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults (front row) during the swearing in ceremony
Tips for Preventing Cases of Child Abuse in Institutions That Take Care of Children

By Vitumbiko Ngwira


Child protection is increasingly becoming a popular topic in many countries. This is because of the increased number of child abuse cases that the world at large is experiencing.  Malawi lacks comprehensive statistics on child protection but the little available data indicates that around 65 per cent of girls and 35 per cent of boys experience some form of child abuse during their lifetime (UNICEF, 2012). This alone is huge gap for a country that has a young population.

Everybody is responsible in ensuring that children are safe and are living in good conditions. For those organizations, in charge of taking care of children, the obligation is even tougher due to their role of ensuring that children under their care are raised in a safe environment. Extra caution must be taken by such organizations. This brief article presents some of the tips that are helpful in the eradication of child protection cases, especially for institutions that are taking care of children in Malawi and across the globe. These institutions can be Early Childhood development centers, Orphan care centers, churches and schools.

  1. Recruitment

Organizations that are taking care of children must ensure that they employ people who do not have a record of child abuse in their previous lives. Recruiting people who have been involved in child abuse is a big risk for your organization; they are likely to repeat the same in your organization. All workers in child care institutions must not have any record of child abuse.

It is also important to recruit people with the right qualification in order to give good support to the children that are being taken care of.  It is always advisable to have a social worker and a psychosocial counselor in order to handle cases with professionalism. This is important because most of the case that are handled in institutions are complex and require professional knowledge.

  1. Having enough resources for taking care of children

Institutions for taking care of children must be ready with enough resources to take care of the children. It is very important to have the required resources for taking care of children. For example, there should be enough money, infrastructure, food, and human resource to make sure that children are given the adequate support.

  1. Teaching children about child abuse

The best way to prevent child abuse is to empower children to protect themselves. First of all, it is important to make sure that children know about child abuse. Child abuse should never be taken as something normal. Additionally, they should be taught where to report in case they are suspicious of an abusive environment or situation. Institutions should deliberate create sessions for children on child abuse. Similarly they should also create session for child abuse for the staff involved in their institution.

  1. Have a clear child protection policy

Institutions should have a working child protection policy to help guide and reduce cases of child abuse. There should a thorough orientation to all members of staff and children on the policy. Once breached, people should be willing to bear the consequences. The child protection policy document should be available at all times to every staff member for reference.

  1. Rules and regulations

Institutions that take care of children should have rules and regulations for guidance. These rules should stipulate clearly what is expected of the children and the staff in the institutions. For example, children should not be allowed to walk at night. Similarly, staff should not encourage meetings with children of opposite sex in closed areas. This can raise suspicions.

  1. Capacity building in child and youth development to the staff

From time to time organize sessions on child development. This will help the staff to understand the changing behavioral patterns of children as they grow. It is important that staff should have an understanding of the importance of their role in the development of the children. Factors that are known to create a positive effect on child development include respectful communication and listening, consistent rules and expectations and safe opportunities for independence.

The capacity building can also be in form of visits to similar institutions that take care of children. Institution can also send their staff for further education in child development depending on the gaps and staff development procedures that they have.

  1. Developing children’s spirituality

Caring for children and especially for those that are vulnerable is very noble responsibility. It is important to make sure the children’s spiritual dimension is adequately developed. Institutions should make sure that children have time with their Ultimate being without being forced.

In conclusion this article has provided some of tips that can be used to eradicate cases oc child abuse. The focus has been on institution that take care of children, but the knowledge can be used anywhere to keep children safe from any abuse.

Some of the beneficiaries of Lusubilo's SORT project interacting with Bishop Mtumbuka of Karonga Diocese
Embracing Development and Spirituality: A Call for Development Workers

By Vitumbiko Ngwira*

The smoke curled its way up from the thatched house in Wiliro, as we went around the household admiring the fruit orchard that we had helped establish for Mr. Ipyana and his family (not a real name). I wondered whether the poverty of Mr. Ipyana was being taken away with the smoke.

Mr. Ipyana was our SORT (Sustainable Options Recommended for Testing) project beneficiary. We were a team of 5 field workers from Lusubilo Community Based Organization, supervising our interventions. The greatest achievement for any development worker is to find communities living self reliant lives while owning and finding sustainable solutions to their social-economic gaps. We were contended, feeling like accomplished development workers seeing Mr. Ipyana gradually graduate from poverty.

As we were about to get into our Toyota Land Cruiser to go the next household on our schedule, Mr. Ipyana came to me and said, ‘we thank God for your interventions, for without Him, no development is possible’. This reminded me of my social ministry lecturer who insisted that any development work without God is incomplete.

Before we delve deeper into our discussion, it is relevant to have an understanding of spirituality. Narrowly put, spirituality is the fire within; that which pushes us to be and do what we do in relation to the Supreme Being and the community. It shapes our values and convictions about who we are. So, where does spirituality and development meet?

Development work is a sacred work. This is not disregarding other professions. Development work begins with Jesus; everything he did was to empower the disadvantaged to live self sustaining lives. His mission becomes more vivid in Luke Chapter 4; 17-21.

The Spirit of the Lord is of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.

It is proper to keep in mind that development work is the ministry of reconciliation which entails moving people closer to glorifying God by living in right relationship with God, with self, with others and with the rest of creation (Corbert &Fiffert, 2009).  Once we understand this, we will never think ourselves as solutions to people’s poverty. How then can we help people to develop?  In Malawi more than 80 percent of people live barely to survive and almost every Malawian knows poverty very well. That is why it is crucial to understand development in its entirety.

Furthermore, as development workers we have to understand that our primary relationship should be with God. We have to clearly understand that we were created to serve and give praise to the creator through thoughts, words and actions. This should be clearly understood by all development workers. This will enable us to respond to the experience of those suffering and indeed of our own experience.

Sustainable development work constitutes a faith based response to social gaps. As a result of this all development workers are called to link faith and development. Perhaps, that is the reason why Peter Henriot repeatedly emphasizes the importance of theological reflection as part of development work.

It is, therefore, imperative to make sure that all development interventions do not disregard the faith component. It is for this reason that it is important to begin our work with prayer. Sustainable social-economic change involves a constant connection between theological reflection and all the stages in the process of development.

From the above brief reflection we have seen that development and spirituality are inseparable. We have also appreciated the sacredness of development work and understood that all work ought to be linked to faith. In the next article we will look at some of the challenges of linking spirituality to development work.


Corbert, S, &Fikkert, B. (2009). When helping hurts . Chicago; Moody publishers.

Wijsen, F, Henriot, p, &Mejia, R. The pastoral cycle revisited. Nairobi; Paulines Publications Africa.


*Vitumbiko Ngwira is the Deputy Director of Lusubilo Community Based Organisation

Health promotion session at Lusubilo
Infant Feeding Program; Touching the Hearts of Orphaned Infants

By Vitumbiko Ngwira

Through the feeding program Lusubilo Orphan Care supports many infants who have either lost their mothers or those whose mothers are in critical illnesses that cannot allow them feed their babies properly.

Health promotion session at Lusubilo
Health promotion session at Lusubilo

The project supports 300 babies who have lost their mothers during birth or during the first 12 months, those that have been abandoned or rejected by their mothers and those with non-lactating mothers who have been referred by the district hospitals.

To ensure that these infants grow into healthy adults, the project supports them with infant formula. After that they are also supported with educational health sessions for their parents or guardians at the Lusubilo-based infant feeding centers, as well as at outstations.

These Health Promotion Sessions cover the following themes; hygiene and sanitation, good childcare practices, nutrition, meal preparation, including the use of iodized salt, use of Water Guard and other hygienic practices to avoid diarrhea and other water-borne illnesses.

With the Infant Feeding Program, Lusubilo has seen a great improvement in the health of these infants.

Farm input distribution in Chitipa District
Lusubilo Distributes Farm inputs to 3100 Vulnerable Households

By Tilekeni Kaunda

Smallholder farmers, especially vulnerable householders, face risks to their agricultural production mainly due to effects of declined soil fertility which reduces their household food and income security.

Farm input distribution in Chitipa District
Farm input distribution in Chitipa District

Because smallholder farmers typically depend directly on agriculture for their livelihoods and have limited resources and limited access to loans to buy farm inputs, any reduction to agricultural productivity has significant impact on their food, income and general well-being.

To enhance food security and strengthen resilience of poor and vulnerable households, Lusubilo is encouraging these households to adopt new technologies such as the use of improved maize seed varieties and fertilizer to increase production. The use of new technology holds greatest potential for reducing their vulnerability.

Yield of hybrid maize could reach its potential levels when grown under optimum management practices. Use of improved hybrid maize varieties and optimal fertilizer application practices are very important to achieve yielding potential of hybrid maize. Access to improved seeds and fertilizer is an integral factor for stimulating technology uptake and increasing agricultural productivity in smallholder agriculture.

Access of such inputs by poor and vulnerable households is constrained by their low income levels. In view of this, Lusubilo Community Based Program through Sustainable Options Recommended for Testing (SORT) Project is supporting vulnerable households in Karonga Diocese (Karonga, Chitipa and part of Rumphi district) with fertilizer (basal and top dressing) and improved seed for maize and legumes.

The project is supporting 3100 farmers with 50kg bag of basal dressing fertilizer and 50 kg bag of top dressing fertilizer for each farmer, the package also includes 10 kg of maize seed and other legumes seed. The whole package is for one acre of land. Distribution of these farm inputs is underway in Chitipa, Karonga and Rumphi.

Lusubilo is implementing SORT Project with financial support from the Coppel Family of Mexico.

SORT Project Enhances Livelihoods in Kasikizi

By Tilekeni Kaunda

Vulnerable households in rural areas, who mainly depend on agriculture, face many challenges including declining soil fertility, erratic rains and limited access to extension services. With limited access to credit and farm inputs, these vulnerable households struggle to support their families.

Edna Chihana standing in her pigeon peas garden
Edna Chihana standing in her pigeon peas garden

The involvement of Lusubilo community based programs, in the promotion of sustainable agriculture in Karonga and Chitipa districts, has had positive impact on its beneficiaries on multiple dimensions. For example, from economic perspective, improvements in technical efficiency has ensured the viability of farming as an economic activity.

In Kasikizi, a remote area of Karonga, Edna Chihana, who was once a Sustainable Options Recommended for Testing (SORT) beneficiary tells her story on how the project helped her household to achieve food and income security through farm inputs and better extension services.

Edna, who hails from Wiscot Village under Group Village Headman Mwenenguwe in Karonga District, was selected to benefit from the SORT project in 2014 due to her vulnerability status. Now 42, and a mother of five, Chihana admits that it was difficult for her to take care of her children as a single mother after being divorced by her husband and had no any future hope.

Supported by Lusubilo Community Based Programs with farm inputs such as fertilizer, improved maize and pigeon peas seed and extension services to grow maize and other crops on a land she farms for her household, Edna says her yields have been good and the income she earns has allowed her to do things for her children.

Edna drying her maize yield
Edna drying her maize yield

Edna said that she received a 50kg bag of top dressing fertilizer, 50kg bag of basal dressing fertilizer, 10kg packet of maize seed and 5kg packet of pigeon peas. With the these farm inputs and better extension services from Lusubilo staff, her maize crop yield increased from 200kg per acre to 3500kg per acre.

She continued with pigeon pea production which, according to her, is her main source of income besides making her farm fertile. The profit she makes from selling pigeon peas has helped her to acquire livestock and other assets which significantly reduced her vulnerability.

Lusubilo introduced SILC in Kasikizi to allow people save their money and also have access to credit/ loans. According to Edna, SILC has helped a lot of people in the including herself. She said people in her community are now able to start small businesses because they have easy access to loans. Through the businesses, people have been able to acquire assets which have enhanced their resilience to natural shocks.

“I am also a member of village savings and loans group and have borrowed money to generate extra income through small scale businesses. I buy rice that I sell at a higher price in the village. Today, I have hens and other poultry”.

“I thank people at Lusubilo whose mentorship and support has significantly contributed to my well-being.”