Child’s Protection Committee
One of my earliest visits to the village was to observe a Village Child’s Protection Committee (VCPC) Meeting. VCPCs are one of the numerous tenets of the large scale village based livelihoods intervention, the NJIRA project, which I am working on in southern Malawi. They are several VCPCs that are a part of NJIRA. Their purpose is to bring together community members to address issues such as child abuse, early childhood marriage, child labor, and the like.
At the meeting that I attended, I was pained by some of the stories that I heard, which including the recent marriage of a 12 year old girl to a 43 year old man Yet, I was moved by the sense of initiative and self-empowerment that the committee members displayed.
Following the meeting, the committee engaged in an exercise in which each member placed a rock inside a bag to represent a problem affecting the children in their community. The bag, of course, became progressively heavier. They then had to list potential solutions for removing the rocks from the bag and lightening the load.