Why was PODCAM Formed

PODCAM was established due to a number of reasons as stipulated below.

The Association was formed after the Southern African Development Community Council (SADCC) conference was held in 1999, where it was observed that some countries in Southern Africa had parent advocacy organizations.  The Association evolved out of the former Blantyre Cheshire Homes Parent Association (BCHPA) that had been in existence from as far back as 1996.   The SADC conference was organized by Southern Africa Federation of Disability (SAFOD) in conjunction with the Federation of Disability Organizations of Malawi (FEDOMA).

Parents were concerned that the rights of children with disabilities were being overlooked   and that there were no equal opportunities for children with disabilities in Malawi as there was no organization attending specifically to the rights and general welfare of children with disabilities.

The denial of basic rights to children with disabilities that are guaranteed to all children

There was a need for support to parents of children with disabilities to cope with hostility, stigma and discrimination from the community.

The common understanding by the parents that unlike all other children, children with disabilities demand constant specialized care and heightened communication skills on the part of parents especially those with developmental disabilities.

It is indisputable fact that several organizations and individuals in Malawi have in the past tried to promote and protect the rights of children and young people with disabilities. Some of these efforts have yielded positive results but in most cases the results have not been impressive. Obviously, many factors have contributed to this situation.

One such factors which stands conspicuous and noticeable is the fact that these efforts have uncoordinated disjointed to the extent that duplications in most cases can not be ruled out. While Malawi is reasonably endowed with people with different expertise and experiences in development there has been no forum through which these people could share experiences, ideas, lessons learnt and strategies in the field. The existence of PODCAM is advantageous in the sense that ideas, lessons learnt, experiences and other information in this area can be shared among stakeholders thereby realizing synergies and a united front in the field.

It is against this background that parents of children with disabilities in Malawi initiated a process that would result in the formation of an organization of players in promotion and protection of children and youth with disabilities in development.

In 1998 an assessment was commissioned to find out the possibility and significance of such an organization. The results confirmed the need to have such kind of an organization

After presenting the results to a selected number of stakeholders, the idea of having an organization called Parents of Disabled Children Association of Malawi (PODCAM) was endorsed.

In 1999, a planning meeting for the organization attended by over 30 parents and stakeholders was held in Blantyre where a task force was constituted to operationalise the establishment of such an organization. During the meeting selected number of individuals, institutions made presentations on a variety of themes related to disability in Malawi.

At the end of the meeting participants brainstormed on the way forward for the organization