Sant'Egidio's 'House of Hope': a new start for street children in Lilongwe, Malawi

A 'House of Hope' has been opened in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, since 7 October. This house welcomes four boys who had to live on the streets of the city in the past. Over the years, the Communities of Sant'Egidio in Malawi have mobilised to address the serious problem of "street children", young people who are homeless for various reasons.

It is a sad and unfortunately growing phenomenon linked to the haphazard and unequal expansion of the capital as a result of rapid urbanisation. In the 1970s, Lilongwe had only 20,000 inhabitants and was a small commercial centre. Yet when it became the capital in 1972, the city grew rapidly, now reaching a population of 1,300,000. However, this growth has resulted in an increase in the number of street children.
For many years, Sant'Egidio has been providing weekly meals to more than fifty children living in Kawale area, near the centre of Lilongwe. Four of them in particular started attending these distributions and the weekly dinner became an opportunity to make friends and get to know Sant'Egidio members better. The idea of finding a home, allowing them to get back to school and re-establishing contact with their families emerged. 
The Community in Lilongwe has responded generously, offering ideas and resources. A Malawian donor has offered one of his properties, while friends of Sant'Egidio are helping to make the 'House of Hope' a welcoming and efficient place. The facility is located in the Chitedze neighbourhood, close to the Faculty of Agriculture, and young university students of the Youth for Peace have organised service shifts in the house. The Prayer of the Community also takes place there.
The "House of Hope" is a spacious villa with a beautiful garden, a place that looks to the future of the street children and offers them a larger family, growing together at the same time as the city.