Boy in Malawi. (Source: Jakob Studnar)

Help for street children

Malawi: Half of the country's 14.4 million inhabitants are children and youth under the age of 18. This segment of the population has to deal with a wide range of problems. HIV/AIDS, dysfunctional families, inadequate healthcare and a lack of vocational training force an ever-growing number of children to live on the streets. Since 2004, we have supported the "Tikondane Care for Children on and off the Street” project implemented by our local partner MSOLA in the capital Lilongwe. This initiative aims at getting children off the streets and reintegrating them into their families. The project relies on prevention and education to rescue children from a life on the streets and build their resilience. Please support our work with a donation or sponsor a child.

A rising number of AIDS orphans

The 1990s saw a rapid rise in the number of children living on the streets. This development has been fuelled by growing poverty and severe social issues families and communities are facing. An estimated one million orphans live in Malawi. Roughly 45 percent of them have lost their parents to AIDS-related diseases. Extended families, communities and welfare organisations provide the bulk of the support for these children. Unfortunately, the continuously rising number of orphans overwhelms these important institutions.

Poverty, hunger or the death of their parents compels many children to leave rural regions. In some cases, families send their children to live with relatives in the city because they can no longer feed them. Often these relatives cannot afford to care for the children. In many instances the children are unable to find their relatives in the city and end up living on the streets. Other children grow up in broken homes or flee domestic violence.

Street children project in Lilongwe

Children playing with a tire. (Source: Bastian Strauch)
Children receive comprehensive care in our projects.

"Tikondane Care for Children on and off the Street" is a project implemented by the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady Africa (MSOLA) based in the Malawian capital Lilongwe. Many years ago, MSOLA decided to tackle the issue of street children. In 1999, the organisation hired a team of dedicated social workers and launched the first street children aid programme in Lilongwe. Today, the Tikondane Street children project has proven to be effective in getting children off the streets and reintegrating them into their families.

An important activity of tikondane is to aid “new arrivals” on the streets. These girls and boys have just stared living on the streets, or go back and forth between living on the streets and living at home. As part of its preventative work, the project also addresses the needs of children whose rights have been violated and who are in danger of ending up on the streets.

Our project partner also looks after the returnees. These are children who have returned to their families and schools, or have been placed in a boarding school. Children continue to require ongoing supervision and support. Without the support of the project they are most likely to end up back on the streets. What's more, the project supports children and young people who have lived on the streets for a long time, known as "veterans".

Tangible achievements

Street social work: Staff members reach out to street children to protect them from the dangers of living on the streets. The project seeks to achieve this with the help of street social work, a halfway house and efforts to reintegrate children who have run into the law. Social workers regularly visit the streets of Lilongwe to establish relationships with the children and gain their trust.

The halfway house: The House offers children the unique opportunity for a short-term stay - less than three weeks - or a long-term stay (up to twelve months) on a voluntary basis. The halfway house gives children healthy and regular meals. They receive psychological counselling, clothing, food and medical care. Children who are held in police custody receive visits at least twice a week. Staff members seek to establish a dialogue with the police officers in charge of these children to speed up the processing of their cases and safeguard rights.

Children sitting on the ground in a village. (Source: Andreas Wagner)
Home visit to a reintegrated child (left).

Reintegration: The ultimate goal is to reintegrate children into their families, communities and the school system. Tikondane staff members accompany the children to visit their families and communities and support them if difficulties arise. The parents receive assistance to cope with family-related problems and child-rearing skills. In addition to helping parents, staff members pave the way for a number of children and young people to receive vocational training if they require additional support after graduation.

Awareness raising: The idea is to inform the general public, parents and legal guardians about the situation of children living on the streets, their rights and their needs. Public meetings, an open house day at Tikondane and informational materials help to get the word out. The media play a key role with radio programmes and newspaper articles.

Networking: A key part of our activities includes strengthening networks with other project partners and organisations that implement programmes in support of children's rights. Staff members hold meetings with potential new project supporters, conduct continuing education activities collectively and launch joint research efforts and campaigns to share lessons learned and generate synergies.

Enhancing the organisation: Existing structures need to be revisited and possibly reorganised. For instance, the project regularly holds internal training sessions and workshops for staff. Furthermore, the halfway house needs to be renovated and maintained. The project will make new furniture available for the renovated building and establish a small library for the children.


From 2010 to 2012, the project’s street social work addressed the needs of 208 children who were new arrivals on the streets. What's more, it managed to reach 224 children who were in trouble with the law and 129 children who had been living on the streets for an extended period of time. Meanwhile, some 1,200 children used the services of the halfway house, the only institution of its kind in Lilongwe. Tikondane’s important educational work is raising awareness of Lilongwe’s population on the problems and challenges street children are facing.

Project No. 62200

Our objective: Realising children's rights

Our objective: Realising children's rights

Any interventions aimed at a long-term positive impact on children's lives must contribute to realising and safeguarding their rights. This is the focus of our work, both in Germany and abroad.

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How we protect children

How we protect children

Kindernothilfe supports numerous protection programs and makes every effort to prevent the children involved in its projects abroad and in its German-based activities from sexual abuse and maltreatment.

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