By Duncan Mlanjira
Airtel Malawi has surpassed the minimum target of K500,000, which Stewart ‘The Cyclist’ Kambewa set for his charity adventure to hike up and down Mulanje Mountain and cycle 58km saddle-less non-stop back to Blantyre to raise towards assisting underprivileged rural secondary school students.
The mobile phone and internet service provider donated donated K6.402 million towards the challenge, which is towards the long-term charity project named ‘2 Wheels 2 School’, through it will be paying the learners’ tuition fees as well as provision of academic materials and bicycles for mobility.
The target was to raise a minimum of K500,000 and Airtel’s support has greatly surpassed it and it will be used to support 100 Form 3 and 4 secondary school students for three terms and to provide 50 bicycles, 100 branded back packs and notebooks each student.
Airtel has also provided four pocket Wifi and 15GB volume data bundles for four special deserving students.
The presentation ceremony was presided over by Airtel’s Zone Business Manager, Kondwani Mkandawire who said they are proud to be associated with assisting underprivileged students in the rural areas to have good access to education.
Kambewa said other sponsors for the Mulanje Mountain hike and the cycle to Blantyre challenge are Blantyre-based Nin9 Construction (pronounced nine), Pamudzi Eatery & Bar and Hike with a Heart.
Kambewa is appealing to the corporate world and other stakeholder organisations and individuals to support the long-term project, which also focuses on the mobility faced by secondary school students (boys and girls) in rural areas across Malawi.
The bicycles will be targeted at students who walk long distances to school and the beneficiaries will be identified through top class performance and the selection will be based on gender balance.
Kambewa said the project will be closely monitored and evaluated at the end of each term by an independent team of auditors “to see that the project flourishes and make a positive impact in the lives of students in rural areas.”
“It is the wish of our team to sustain the project for as long as we can and reach out to as many students as possible.”
“We believe every student can excel in their studies if given the right support and mentorship. We believe supporting these students could go a long way in improving their performance in class, changing their lives and standards for the better, which is a world we would like to see in them.”
The support may be channeled to: 2 Wheels 2 School Project; National Bank Victoria Avenue Service Centre; Savings Account # 1006828473 or through Airtel Money 0997 111 444 and TNM Mpamba 0888 354 285.
This will be the third adventure Stewart has undertaken to cycle non-stop and saddle-less for charity — the first was on September 9, 2017 when he completed 10kms uphill from Zomba City Central up to Ku Chawe Inn in just under 45 minutes on.
This was to raise funds to pay fees for two underprivileged secondary school students from Mulanje and Chiradzulu and the second was in September last year when he cycled 30.4km saddless up the meandering Masasa-Golomoti escarpment road, popularly known as Khwekhwerere route, in aid of the good welfare of needy children at Friends of Mulanje Orphanage (FOMO) homes.
After the Khwekhwerere challenge, Stewart did another charity by traveling to Tanzania where he hiked up to the peak of Kilimanjaro Mountain, completing the feat in just four days on September 4, 2019.
He then descended to pick up his bike and with his colleague John Moyenda, cycled all the way into Malawi up to Mulanje.
This was also in aid of raising funds to build an academic centre for Friends of Mulanje Orphans (FOMO).
Stewart became a household name when he, together with another colleague, Kwame Kaira 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.
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.
For the ‘2 Wheels 2 School’, he and his colleagues will hike from Likhubula to Sapitwa peak and descend to Kara O’Mula — a distance of 43km.
Kambewa said he and his colleagues are ready for the challenge and they have been doing some training by cycling in Blantyre and hiking mountain trails of Chilomoni, Ndirande, Soche and others.