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Engaging Youth at Malawi’s Children’s Future Festival | 14 June 2015

The first ever Children’s Future Festival gave Malawi’s future leaders a chance to learn new things and express their opinion on issues affecting them.

Organised by Lake of Stars and supported by UNICEF, the festival saw a variety of fun activities for every child. Early in the morning children were already washing their hands and dancing with Mister Sopo, the big green soap bar who wobbles around, challenging everyone to show their best dance moves. However, it’s not only the music and dancing, but also the usefulness of handwashing that appeals to 15-year-old Innocent Chikdadzu: “I wash my hands after going to the toilet and also after playing. I like it because it prevents me from diseases.”

For those who preferred to enjoy the festival more quietly, there were tablets on which children could learn throughout the day. It proved to be a hard task for parents and guardians to convince their children to go home at the end of the day. “I really like learning on this tablet – I don’t want to stop! It gives me an opportunity that I don’t have at my home or school,” 9-year-old Atupele Chawawa confirmed.

However, the good old paper books could also charm many visitors like Wanangwe Nkhandwe (11) and her friend Evelyne Msiska (10), who were sitting at the festival’s book corner to share a story and a laugh. For Wanangwe, stories are an important part of life, and she’s lucky to have a teacher who knows how to make her and her classmates learn: “I don’t just like the subjects in school, but mostly the examples and stories our teacher tells us. Having a good teacher makes it easy to love school.”

Children from different backgrounds were brought to the festival by several partner organisations of the UN in Malawi. Girls from the Special Olympics played the match of their life against the Malawi Queens, the country’s netball team which is recognised as the best netball team in Africa. Another girl, 11-year-old Brenda Daliken, will go back to her orphanage with numerous good memories: “I had so much fun today! I saw things that I had never seen in my life.”

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A Platform for Children | 12 June 2015

After making headlines with the first of its kind Lilongwe Shorts Film Festival as well as parties which offered people much-needed entertainment and fun, organisers of the Lake of Stars Festival, set to be held in September in Mangochi, are at it again and this time holding a Children’s Future Festival at Sunbird Capital Hotel in Lilongwe on Sunday.

The Lake of Stars Festival organisers are holding the show in partnership with Unicef.

Lake of Stars Festival founder Will Jameson said this is a platform which will give a chance to children to show their art and at the same time have fun.

“It’s a festival which will bring a lot of activities and it is the first of its kind we are holding as Lake of Stars. We are thankful to Unicef for their support,” said Jameson.

According to information on Lake of Stars Festival website, players from the Malawi National Netball team, also known as the Malawi Queens, will be present at the festival where they will participate in a netball display.

“There will be a whole array of other sporting activities for everyone to get involved and we urge parents to make themselves available during this festival and support their children. This is a family outing,” said Jameson.

He said this promises to be a fun-filled day for the family revealing that the advance tickets are selling at different outlets for K500 for children and K1,000 for adults.

“This is an action-packed day of live music, dance, theatre, puppetry, games and toys, talks, sports, arts and craft, workshops and a whole host of other entertaining and educational activities. We are starting in the morning from 9am up to 6pm,” said Jameson.

He said the festival will be held in the beautiful gardens of Sunbird Capital and that it is designed to be fun for all ages with plenty of things to do.

According to available information, Unicef says 2015 is an important year as world leaders decide on a new agenda for development, hence children must be given a voice in the post-2015 agenda and a role in helping move it forward.

It further says that every child’s voice matters and that the new partnership between Unicef Malawi and Lake of Stars is an opportunity for child participation and advocacy on child rights and the post-2015 agenda for children in Malawi.

The festival will be held on Sunday just before this year’s ‘Day of the African Child.’

“As we said this event will be the first of its kind in Lilongwe, providing child, youth and family-friendly entertainment and edutainment activities,” he said.

Some of the artists expected to offer live music on the day include Lulu, KBG, Lily Banda, Kuyenda Band, and the Music Crossroads Hear Us Children’s Choir.

Jameson said there will be a book corner and storytelling to be spearheaded by National Library Service, dancing classes to be offered by Times Group Ka Jive Dance Contest finalist Tron, a puppet show by Mwezi Arts, interactive theatre by Theatre for a Change, a Technology Tent with M Hub, Science Lab, an Art Activity Tent by Art House Africa, media workshops by Timveni TV, recording studio by Rhythm of Life, a Kung Fu display by Amitofo Care Centre, and a Conservation Corner with the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre.

Jameson said there will also be loom band-making with the Lilongwe Play Centre plus a play area where children will enjoy games, toys, jumping castles, face painting, and a fire engine display.

“So just like the film festival we want this to be annual event. The idea is to educate and entertain children. We will actually have stewards from nursery schools and childcare centres who will help us in working with the children,” he said.

Jameson said Airtel Malawi, which is one of Lake of Stars’ key sponsors this year, will provide a free internet cafe.

“We expect to have 1,000 to 1,500 people on the day and we are actually giving 500 tickets for free to children from different organisations. This is for children and so we want more children from both urban and rural areas,” he said.

With the Lake of Stars scheduled to take place from September 25-27 at Sunbird Nkopola, Jameson said they will also incorporate children’s programmes where they expect to have a children’s playing area.