JB donates K0.5m towards fight against cancer

Vice President Banda with members of Chimaliro Women’s Group at Mudi House: Photo: Nyasa Times

Malawi’s  Vice President Joyce Banda on Thursday donated K500, 000 to Chimaliro Women’s Group, which is on a fundraising drive towards the fight against cancer in Malawi.

Chimaliro Women’s Group have organized a dinner dance to be held at Sunbird Mount Soche in Blantyre on Friday as part of the fundraising initiative.

“I received a letter two days ago that I should contribute towards the cancer cause; some of us can’t dance and I thought I would still contribute something towards the group’s charitable initiative hence the presentation of this half a million cheque,” Banda said during a presentation ceremony held at her official Mudi Residence in Blantyre.

She said she presented the funds on behalf of her charitable organization, the Joyce Banda Foundation International. Banda is the founder. Edith Akridge and Rosemary Nhlema, who were present at the ceremony, are Managing Director and Chairperson, respectively.

Speaking before she presented the cheque, Banda, who is also president for the People’s Party (PP), said she is personally committed to fighting cancer because her own friend, Mary Sichali is a cancer survivor and that her own mother died of cancer.

“Many people are suffering and the enormity of cancer almost matches that of HIV/Aids and malaria. We have to pull our efforts together to fight cancer,” Malawi’s first woman Vice President said.

She disclosed  that as Joyce Banda Foundation International, they had arranged to officially launch a Cancer Initiative on Sunday, November 27, 2011 but had cancelled the event in view of Chimaliro Women’s Group initiative.

“I had personally gone to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, cancer department, to see Dr. Masamba (Leo) who is head of the department to seek information on cancer ahead of the launch. But when I received the letter from Chimaliro Women’s Group, I said, let’s not be re-inventing the wheel; let’s not be duplicating matters and decided to support the women’s cause,” she said.

Banda pledged that this would not be the last time to support them and the fight against cancer in general “as I am deeply concerned with the plight of men, women and children suffering from cancer”.

Speaking on behalf of the group, chairperson Mary Mpaka said she was lost for words for the generous contribution the Vice President had made towards the fight against cancer in Malawi.

She noted that cancer treatment is very expensive and as such many people die because they cannot afford the requisite treatment.

“This generous donation will go a long way in helping patients from Chitipa to Nsanje. May God bless you abundantly,” Mpaka said, noting that the VP is renowned for her generosity and that therefore Thursday’s presentation of the “fat cheque was not a surprise at all”.

Among other high-profile people that attended the cheque presentation ceremony included Cecelia Kumpukwe who is the VP’s special assistant and member of the Chimaliro Women’s Group, Reverend Malani Mtonga, who is PP’s Director of Religious Affairs and Lucy Kamwendo, a member of PP’s Orange Partners.

Chimaliro Women’s Group comprises professional women and ‘house executives’ from Chigumula Township in the city of Blantyre. It was set up in 2006 initially to deal with social and economic issues among the community.

The women’s group is now a fully-fledged charitable organization. According to Mpanga, the charitable organization notably rendered assistance to orphans and other vulnerable groups at Che Ntambo in Chief Chiswe’s area in the city in 2010.

During Mother’s Day celebration this year, the women visited Mulanje District Hospital where they donated various items to patients.

On the other hand, Joyce Banda Foundation International was founded by Banda in 1997 using the prize money for the Africa Award for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger which she jointly won with Joaquin Chissano, former President of the Republic of Mozambique.

The foundation uplifts women’s status by giving grants of day-old chicks, broilers and goats to women from low income families.

The primary objective is to improve nutrition by ensuring increased protein intake within the families and that the droppings are used as manure in the production of vegetables, among others, which encourages organic farming.

Banda said with her expertise in the “micro-finance arena” where once she rose to the position of Vice President for Micro-finance Africa, she cognizant of the fact that when people go into borrowing “they borrow forever”.

“The economic environment is hostile out there; women with babies on their lap, sitting in the sun the whole day selling the little items they have. We therefore decided to help women by giving them grants—not loans—then when they grow they can go to banks and borrow,” she explained, adding that her foundation helps 70,000 women.

According to the founder, the foundation also supports over 350, 000 youths, particularly in schools through the provision of balls, uniform and boots, among others.

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