Roche started its collaboration with the European Coalition of Positive People (ECPP) in 2003, with a view to supporting the construction, equipping, running and maintenance of several HIV/AIDS orphan centres in rural southern Malawi, as well as the Comboni Technical College, where students learn practical skills enabling them to get a job or start their own small entreprises once they graduate.
The funds for this project are managed by Re&Act, but are almost exclusively gathered through the annual Roche Children’s Walk, which takes place on the 16th June, the International Day of the African Child.
In those centres, children are given food, clothing, practical skills training and the chance of a secondary school education. The children also receive training in skills such as tin-smithing, carpentry and knitting. Local community leaders and villagers are also trained to manage these centres by ECPP, encouraging self-reliance amongst the communities we help.
By continuing to support these projects through this annual fundraising event, Roche aims to make permanent sustainable change in Malawi. This principle of sustainability is key to Roche’s commitment to corporate social responsibility, and governs the intent of the Children’s Walk.
Since 2003 the funds raised by the Children’s Walk have helped:
- 3100+ children provided essentials (daily meals, basic healthcare & education)
- Over 6 million meals served
- Skills training taught: tinsmithing, carpentry, knitting, tailoring & pottery
- Health education taught, including HIV/AIDS awareness
- 20 tailoring graduates started small businesses
- 75 students graduated from college
- 5 students graduated from university
- 2 centres/communities were provided electricity
- 9 community boreholes drilled and installed for clean water
- 70 villages benefited indirectly
In 2015, our work with the ECPP came to an end, and the orphan and practical skills centres were handed over to their local communities. They are now fully self-sustaining, with trained staff to run the establishments and income generated from the activities and output.
I studied irrigation technology and would like to help my home district in the future. Nobody from my village had ever been to secondary school, let alone college. It is clear to me that ECPP and Roche cannot help all the children in Malawi, and that is why I have been paying the school fees for a girl from my village for some time – to ensure that she too has the opportunity to get a good education. Education opens many doors.