People Saving Girls at Risk (PSGR), a non-governmental organization advocating for the rights of women and girls in Malawi, has embarked on a six year ‘creating space for survivors’ project to mentor commercial sex workers with income generating skills.
Speaking on Thursday during interface meeting with commercial sex workers at a brothel in Ndirande, the organization’s Team Leader Caleb Ng’ombo said apart from commercial sex workers, the project targets victims of human trafficking, child marriages and child labour.
“Our core purpose is to empower them with vocational and other skills that they could use to generate income to reduce their vulnerability to sex work, early marriages or child labour.
“Currently, we are into negotiations with different institutions like Malawi Institute of Tourism to enroll those willing to be trained at the institution with financial support coming from PSGR
“After graduating, it will be up to them to form a Cooperative where they can choose to run a food café and if that will be the case; the organization shall support them with equipment. Or if they will opt to join the job market, PSGR shall provide necessary referees,” he said.
The team Leader said currently, the organization has earmarked drop-in centres in Blantyre, Balaka and Mangochi where the targeted group could access counseling and mentorship services at short and long term respectively.
“Much as we would have loved to implement the intervention across the country, we thought of scaling it to only three districts in the southern region targeting 600 people by the end of the project.
“We target Blantyre because is a hub of social-economic activities, Mangochi because it is a tourist attraction place and together with Balaka, it is the place where cases of child trafficking and early marriages are rampant,” said Ng’ombo.
Ng’ombo therefore expressed satisfaction with the overwhelming response which the organization has so far received from commercial sex workers since the inception of the project in March this year.
“Most of the commercial sex workers have welcomed us positively and they have agreed with us that prostitution is a formal exploitation and they want to pull out. As an Organization, we will do everything possible to rescue them through our programmes,” he said
One of the sex workers at a Brothel in Ndirande, who opted for anonymity thanked PSGR for taking the project to victims of sex and human trafficking women and girls, describing it as a catalyst towards rescuing them from economic exploitation
“In offering this service, we encounter sexual and physical abuses. However, we never quit because it is our only source of income for survival. But today, we are more than willing to pull out,” she said.
Creating Space for Survivors project is a consortium of five countries including Malawi and is being bankrolled by a French Organization Foundation called Pellon Bellon.