StreetSmart and YONECO were already in contact about a potential collaboration before the pandemic. The local NGO was founded in 1997 to respond to issues that affect the youth, women and children in Malawi. Currently, YONECO has a total of 15 districts across Malawi and eight adjunct offices in the country. Further to this, YONECO has various nationwide programmes which include YONECO FM Radio and the Tithandizane Helpline Services.
During a 10-day training visit, a team of 21 people went through different workshops to learn more about the mobile school, the educational materials and the different StreetSmart products. In the initial phase, the team of YONECO will operate their mobile school from their Lilongwe Social Rehabilitation Centre to empower street-connected children in the capital. In the longer term, the organisation will also evaluate if this new methodology can also be used in other cities across the country such as Zomba or Blantyre or in camps in the southern part of the country, where a series of tropical storms have left many people destitute. With more than 50 per cent of the population living below the national poverty line, a high HIV burden and primary school completion rates of just 33 per cent, there still is a high need to reach out to children on the streets to conduct non-formal educational activities.