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Balaka man arrested for abandoning his children

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By Wezzie Gausi:

Three weeks after Times exposed the abandonment of two children in Balaka by their parents, police have moved in and arrested the father, 45-year-old Isaac Mbewe.

In our story in The Sunday Times of February 20, 2022, we reported how the two children, staying alone in Namwera Village, Traditional Authority Amidu in Balaka District were struggling after their parents abandoned them.

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The parents divorced and left the children on their own following clashes between them.

The disagreements came after the eldest of the children, a girl now aged 13, was diagnosed HIV positive when she was 6 years old.

It is suspected that the girl contracted the virus through a blood transfusion she received at a hospital in Mzuzu when she was taken ill while aged five.

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Her parents were both negative at the time.

The parents abandoned the children when the girl we called Mercy was only 9 years old. She stays with her brother, now 10.

The wife returned to her village in Mzuzu while the man, from Balaka, remarried and went away to stay with the new wife, leaving his two children to their own fate.

Now police have arrested him, according to Balaka Police spokesperson Chisomo Kanyimbi.

Kanyimbi said Mbewe was arrested by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).

“It is true that we have been keeping Mbewe in custody. Police have finalised their investigations and come tomorrow [Friday], he will appear before the magistrate court,” she said.

Since their parents abandoned them, the children have been living alone in a dilapidated house, struggling to fend for themselves, with Mercy juggling between school and doing piece work to bring food in the house.

In an interview at her home, she lamented the many days they go to bed hungry.

She said most of the times, she has suicidal thoughts.

“But when I look at my brother, I feel sorry for him. I do not know why it has to be me to live with HIV for the things that I did not do. May be, life would have been different if our parents were here,” she said.

Everything about the home is chaotic. The house has no roof worth the name. It is damaged. The wall on one side is fallen. There is no proper toilet.

The girl further explained how she gets bullied by friends and community members for being HIV positive.

She said there was a time when she could not have access to ARV drugs as the health centre is very far from where she stays.

“We are told to go and receive these drugs at the health centre that is far away from here. Due to transportation problems, I could stay months without having my drugs in stock until I met a volunteer. This was the time I could get sick often,” she added.

A volunteer in the village, Stella Ndau, seeing her plight, took the initiative of helping the child to get her drugs. So, it is her who goes to the health centre to collect the drugs for the girl.

At school, where she is now in Standard 8, Mercy is always among top in class.

Group Village Headman Namwera admitted to knowing the girl and that she was in dire need of support.

He said he tried to talk to her parents about the children but they didn’t listen to him and they left the area.

“I would be very grateful if people could come and help this child. She needs a safe place to stay. Where she is staying now, it is easy for people to abuse her.

“I still do not understand why the Department of Social Welfare is not helping her. Her case is urgent, being a child that is on ARVs,” Namwera said.

The District Social Welfare office also said it was not aware of the case, and promised to follow up.

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