Lost hope for vulnerable family

About six kilometers from Mangochi boma, you will find Masi Village in the area of Traditional Authority Chowe where a vulnerable family of six is languishing in poverty.

Angile’s family, which lost both parents, comprises five boys and a girl aged between 14 and 21 years. The family lives in a very small grass-thatched dilapidated house with just one bedroom.

The door of the house is made of bamboo materials thereby pausing a threat to their security.

In an unbelievable circumstance, the youngest child, a 14-year-old girl, is eight months pregnant. The pregnant girl sleeps on a tattered mat laid on the floor at the sitting room which is also crowded with home utensils, while her brothers use the small bedroom.

The sitting room turned bedroom

Sometimes some of the boys chose to sleep in Mangochi street building verandas and shacks to avoid congestion in the room and also the water leakages from the grass thatched roof more especially during this time of rainy season.

According to Stambuli Angile, who is the eldest in the family, matters started to turn ugly in 2014, when their father died, leaving a jobless mother to head the family.

He said after their father died, their mother got married to another man but in 2016 their mother became sick until in 2018 when she died on March 3.

Stambuli said: “After the death of our mother, life became more difficult because our stepfather could not bother to play his part as a bread-winner, a development which forced us to start fending for ourselves.”

“The challenges also forced me to drop out of school while in form 2 to dedicate my time to supporting the family and ensure that my five siblings remain in school,” said Stambuli.

But as he could not manage the responsibility alone, his little brothers also joined in doing piece works and begging from well-wishers while going to school.

Another heartbreaking issue is that while the boys in the family were busy doing piece jobs to sustain the family, leaving their little sister at home, little did they know that their stepfather, was taking advantage of the situation to defile the innocent girl.

“Our neighbours told me that they were suspecting my grandfather was sleeping with my sister saying sometimes they would see him following her to the bathroom,” Stambuli said.

Stambuli was forced to confront his step father who strongly denied the allegations and the enmity between the two was created, a development which forced Stambuli and his siblings, including the girl, to leave the house and to stay at Masi village where the village headman offered them a small grass thatched house in which they are staying until today.

Village Headman Masi concerned with the situation

Village Headman Masi was short of words but rather told YFM that “he just felt sorry for the family” and further asked well-wishers to come up with assistance.

As all the boys depend on casual piece works and begging from the streets, their eight months pregnant sister stays at home waiting for them to bring food on the table. It is proven that her stepfather is responsible for the pregnancy.

When YFM visited the family at their wretched home, we managed to engage Pemphero, who admitted that her step father had been repeatedly defiling her and she is eight months pregnant.

“He has been forcing me to sleep with him for a number of times while promising to provide me with all my needs in return,” said the girl.

Rodrick Maida: The step-father is in custody

According to Mangochi Police spokesperson, Inspector Rodrick Maida, the stepfather, whose name is Stuart Bello, is currently in police custody waiting for his verdict.

Another pitiful side of the story is that the arrested stepfather has been on Antiretroviral (ARVs) long before he started defiling the girl.

The whole ordeal of Angile’s family came to light when Stambuli, who is heading the mantle of the family, took the matter to Youth Net and Counselling Organization (YONECO).

According to YONECO District Manager for Mangochi, Funny Chilembo, her organisation intervened swiftly by facilitating the arrest of the evil-minded step-father and also raised some funds and items to assist the family.

Chilembo, also described the situation of the family as pathetic and has since expressed the need for immediate assistance from well-wishers to bail the family out of the dilemma.

Child Protection Worker at Mangochi District Social Welfare Office, Ceaser Jafali, said the office has engaged Stambuli into a project which the Community Development Office is implementing and will be trained in life skills.

Human rights campaigner, Emma Kaliya

Commenting on the challenges which the family is facing, a human rights campaigner, Emma Kaliya, has pleaded with the duty bearers to ensure that the children in the family are supported and protected.

Kaliya also called on the law enforcers to ensure that stepfather who defiled the girl should be given a stiffer punishment.

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