Chance for Change works with young people, who have experienced challenging living conditions when growing up and are ready for their transition to adulthood. They work in the UK, Malawi and in Nepal with unique and innovative ‘rites of passage’ – personal development programmes that enable young people with complicated life stories to become independent and take responsibility for their future direction.
In Malawi, the disproportionately large population of children and young people in prisons is a result of many factors. One of them is the impact of HIV and AIDS on the Malawi population. Many children are forced into becoming the heads of their households due to the death of their parents or guardians, leaving them with little or no support. These children have little choice but to take to the streets and do whatever they can to survive and to look after their younger siblings, many resorting to petty crime to survive. Another main cause is the lack of a viable alternative to a jail sentence for judges after a guilty finding or plea. Vagrancy is another connected issue for these abandoned or orphaned children.
Chance for Change believes that young people in conflict with the law need to be welcomed back into their communities and included in them, not rejected by them. They believe in playing to strengths not weaknesses, in rehabilitation not punishment, and in not defining young people by the mistakes they have made. The main overarching theme of their set of programmes is access to justice; both social justice and humane treatment of children within the criminal justice setting.
Chance for Change believes that the provision of a practical, rehabilitative, community service programme for children in conflict with the law will enable the judiciary to divert young offenders away from custody and impel them into reintegration within their communities. At Chance For Change, they not only have the challenge of building and running a rehabilitation facility, they want to strive to change attitudes and values to children in conflict with the law. These young people are a critically important resource to Malawi and the country cannot afford to ignore and exclude them. Operating out of Lilongwe, where unemployment is extremely high, their participants are inspired to become the next generation of young leaders, focused on building a stronger and more prosperous Malawi.
Chloe Allan from Octopus Investment is going to Malawi in 2018 to work with Chance for Change. She will help them develop their enterprise strategy and program, empowering young offenders to become entrepreneurs and take charge of their future. Stay tuned for updates!