When you give education to children, they can go any mile to realise their full potential, that is what Chawezi Sibongile Banda, daughter of Malawi’s former Finance Minister, the late Aleke Kadonamphani Banda, well known as ‘Chacha’ learnt from his deceased father and is taken it upon herself to share her resources with the disadvantaged to earn education in Malawi.
The United States-based Chacha, who owns ‘Chacha Care Homes’ in Richmond, in the State of Virginia, told Nyasa Times that education itself is a key to transform a society but in societies where poverty is so rampant and scores of children are orphaned the struggle to find basic needs for their education is but a daily ‘routine’.
What would one expect in a society where early childhood education is almost luxury?
Chawezi Banda recent visit to Utale in Balaka District was probably a hands on experience as the local leaders took turns to narrate sad stories on how grand mother’s and unties struggle to raise orphaned children in the area.
Primary education in Malawi is free but pupils have to pay some development funds to access public schools which some poor parents can hardly afford.
This has contributed to numbers of school drop out even at primary school levels because they can not afford such funds.
For girls the situation is even worse as it is one of the contributing factors to early marriages.
The visit by Chacha follows a donation of blankets she made in March to over 150 orphaned children around the area.
It was all smiles for the chiefs , the guardians and the children as they interacted with Chacha who only gave a less that five minute speech.
On the contrary Cha-cha was almost in tears.She was apparently overwhelmed by the more that 80 orphaned children who gathered at Utale II centre .
As she gave her speech one could read the face of a heart broken mother.
“I knew there was a problem of orphanage here but I didn’t know the figures were this big and that the children face these problems in their daily life,” she said.
She emphasised that although the guardians are struggling they must make sure that the children go to school and pledged to take a leading role in area of providing learning materials which is also a challenge.
According to Group Village Headman Kantwanje, it is hard to raise a child in an area where there are no public health facilities and one has to travel a distance of over 15 kilometres to access a public hospital in Balaka.
He says the area has two paying clinics which are run by the Catholic Church.
Unfortunately most of the guardians who are looking after the orphaned children are grandmothers who can hardly afford the hospital fees.
” We are hoping that you will help us with these problems here,” he concluded.
He said that the donation of blankets in March was timely as it came at time that many houses in the area had collapsed due to heavy rains which caused floods.
Up until now the Chief said some of the orphans are still sleeping in dilapidated houses which are yet to be built.
The Chief asked for black plastic sheets which he said could be used for roofing when they rebuild the damaged houses.
During the visit Cha-cha donated learning materials which included notebooks, pencils and pens to over 80 orphans who gathered at the Centre.
Apart from Utale, Chacha has also identified some orphaned girls – two at Nanthenje in Lilongwe. She named one after her and some in Tukombo, Nkhatabay, her village district whom she is sponsoring their education.
Orphanage in Malawi is linked to the HIV scourge and maternal deaths.
Chacha explains that she left Malawi in 2001 when her father was still an influential cabinet minister in the Bakili Muluzi administration as well as owning a newspaper giant, Nation Publications Limited.
Sh toiled from humble integration in US to now being a ‘wealthy person’.
Chacha says her business has become extremely successful and she attributes that success to resilience and hard work.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :