Bangwe HIV/Aids Self-Help Initiative in full throttle drive to help vulnerable children


By Duncan Mlanjira

Charitable organization, Bangwe HIV/Aids Self-Help Initiative (BAHASI), believes that anything that can be done to improve the future for Malawi’s vulnerable children can only be done starting with the citizenry itself rather than just looking up to leaders and donors to do it.

This is the drive that BAHASI’s board chairperson Reena Purshotam emphases on as the NGO also strives to improve the welfare of vulnerable groups affected and infected by HIV/Aids as well as operating an under-5 pre-school.

Great time at fundraiser

Based in peri-urban high density populated Bangwe Township in Limbe, the NGO also encourages youth participation in social activities and prevention of environmental degradation.

It is based on full community since members consist of volunteers from the community and is open to all.

Although members are encouraged to make monthly contributions of K2,000 which they are rarely able to do so due to their personal financial difficulties but make it up by enthusiastically participating in various fundraising activities.

Board Trustees and members contribute more than the monthly membership fee and they have done several fundraising activities such as Big Walks within Blantyre City and more recently a Blantyre to Lilongwe fundraising cycling challenge.

Purshotam and her sporting husband

Last week, they organised a fundraising birthday party raise funds to construct drains at BAHASI’s premises that houses the centre’s nursery school.

“These types of fundraising rarely raise a lot of funds but it’s a good opportunity for the community to come together to have a feel of belonging,” said Purshotam, a lawyer by professional working for Savjani & Company.

“BAHASI serves the community and is part of the community, so it is important for the community to take ownership.

Community having great time

“Every year, we receive volunteers from overseas — usually from Sweden, Scotland or the UK — who are normally students on their gap year before University.

“They help out in the pre-school and they also help some of the older children with their homework.

“These students, whom we are grateful of, also help to fundraise in their home countries.

“What drives me personally to be charitable? — It’s a combination of factors, one being the love of children and what they mean to the country — being future leaders. 

Purshotam and her supporting mother

“If we all can see the potential in children, we can bring our little resources together and try to assist where possible.

“Anything that can be done to improve the future for our children is something that I want to be involved in. These are our future leaders and they need a solid and secure foundation.

“I’m also very patriotic and want to do everything within my power to make Malawi a better place. This means caring for the environment and helping those in need,” said the former Kamuzu Academy student.

BAHASI, established in 2004 as a community based organization (CBO) that went on to get registered with Blantyre City Assembly and the Blantyre District Social Welfare office in 2007.

Support from donors

In 2016, it was registered and incorporated as a charitable organization under the Trustees Incorporation Act.

It’s board has four trustees — Purshotam, J. Jimusole, D. Kamwendo and H. Mpenga.

In its home based care, it looks looks after chronically ill patients by providing them with food and counseling and also offer counselling to members of the community affected and infected with HIV/Aids.

The members also clean the surroundings of its home based care patients and provide them with water for their personal sanitation.

Support from foreign donors

“We also help to bathe patients who are too ill to bathe themselves and we teach patients and guardians how to provide psycho-social support for orphans and children with disabilities.

“We refer patients to the hospitals for specialist attention when patients’ health deteriorates,” says Purshotam, adding that she is grateful of the monthly food donations they receive from local companies that are used in school feeding program and other funding from volunteers and well-wishers.