By Duncan Mlanjira
Stewart The Cyclist, Stewart Kambewa, who shot to fame when he, together with his colleague Kwame Kaira when they cycled 1,149km in 8 days from Nsanje to Chitipa in September 2016 to raise funds towards building boreholes in some communities of the country, has come up with another daring adventure on April 20 — to cycle saddle-less for 30.2kms and half of it uphill.
And this time it is in aid of raising every day needs for Friends of Mulanje Orphanage (FOMO) such as clothes, shoes, school materials, toys and groceries for the institution’s children whose ages range between 2-16 years.
“We are kindly asking for your help. You may have some stuff which your children stopped using but are still usable such as clothes, shoes, school materials and toys — please donate them to FOMO. Groceries are also welcome and I pledge to earn that gesture by cycling 30.2kms saddle-less non-stop and most of it uphill,” Kambewa said.
The start point will be from Masasa-Golomoti turn-off on the Salima M5 Road all the way uphill through the meandering Masasa-Golomoti escarpment road, popularly know as Khwekhwerere, to connect back with the Blantyre-Lilongwe M1 Road.
The adventure is dubbed ‘Kugwetsa Khwekhwerere’ and Kambewa says: “It’s going to be hard but hard does not mean impossible.”
Kambewa said he decided to join hands with FOMO because the institution’s founder Mary Woodworth has been an inspiration and motivation to his life in the past 3-4 years and the impact that FOMO is making to the lives of the children and the community at large.
“I came to know FOMO in 2016 when Brendan Rendall from UK came to run the length of Malawi, fundraising for FOMO secondary school children. It was the same year that we were also cycling the length of Malawi with my colleague Kwame Kaira.
“I cycled to meet Brendan in Mulanje and developed a friendship. It was this time that I got introduced to the founder madam Woodworth.
This is not the first time for Stewart The Cyclist to take up a challenge to cycle uphill saddle-less and for charity — he carried out the same advantage 10kms uphill from Zomba City Central up to Ku Chawe Inn, taking him in just under 45 minutes on September 9, 2017.
He did this to raise funds to pay fees for two underprivileged secondary school students from Mulanje and Chiradzulu and he says he has upped the challenge this time around by adding 20 more kms in order to each the uphill task along the Khwekhwerere passage full of vigour.
In December 8-12, he also cycled for fun from Senga Bay in Salima, heading for Lilongwe where he headed along the Blantyre-Lilongwe M1 Road up to the junction for the Khwekhwerere route all the way to Monkey Bay.
From there he headed to his base in Blantyre through Mangochi, Liwonde and Zomba, covering 663kms.
In between, he has also done a saddle-less cycle up the Chikwawa escarpment from downhill at Thabwa police roadblock all the way to Blantyre, which he dubbed ‘Chikwawa Hills and Meanders Challenge’ covering 20km in 1:6:11hrs.
He also took part in the Nation Publications Mother’s Day Charity Fun Run by volunteering to cycle 311kms from Blantyre to Lilongwe September 8, 2019, in 13:45hrs and the proceeds from the donations he received went towards the Safe Motherhood charity fund set up by the Nation newspaper.
Why is he doing all this for: “I am very passionate about cycling. Together with my very few friends, we cycle challenging long distances just for the fun of it because there aren’t any cycling competitions.
“We make up for our passion to cycle by organizing our own routes and I decided to add some glamour to cycling by engaging well-wishers to join me as a charity event and I am always satisfied when the public responds to my plea to assist the underprivileged,” he said.
He said all those who would like make a donation can contact Nyasha on 0886 884 219 and Kondani on 0999 368 582.
FOMO was established in 2000 to aid growing numbers of orphans in Mulanje and from small beginnings it has grown and now looks after over 3,500 children through a network of 14 centres covering over 90 villages in Mulanje.
The institution covers all aspects of the children’s welfare including health through it’s outreach clinic, formal and informal education, food security and production. The programme also covers pre-school, out of school activities and further learning through play schools, computer, driving and tailoring schools.
FOMO, which is run by a board of trustees in UK whose main work is to raise funds and awareness of the children’s situation, also covers the provision of school materials, personal items and much more.