* Named Covid Response Foundation
* A non-profit making and wholly voluntary foundation
* Incorporated under the Companies Act of Malawi
* To focus its attention for a start on the Queens
By Duncan Mlanjira
Former Mayor of the City of Blantyre, Noel Chalamanda — together with three corporate executives — Allan Hans Muhome; Eric Chapola and Donbell Mandala, are leading a newly-formed Coronavirus response fundraising initiative — named Covid Response Foundation.
An introduction on its website, www.crfmw.org, says it is a non-profit making; wholly voluntary foundation and newly incorporated under the Companies Act of Malawi.
It consists of Malawians from different walks of life and professions with the one aim of contributing towards and mobilising resources for hospitals to cater for the fight against the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chapola (chairperson of the Foundation) is Chief Executive Officer for NICO Life; Mandala is NICO General Chief Executive Officer; Muhome is Sunbird Company Secretary while the former Mayor Chalamanda is a private practice lawyer.
The Foundation says the exponential increase of the COVID-19 infections and deaths in this second wave that hit the start of 2021 “is there for all to see”.
“We cannot stand by and watch as our hospitals and medical staff struggle with the limited resources to save our brothers’ and sisters’ lives — we could be next in need of saving.
“We intend to focus our attention for a start on the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) before we can spread to other hospitals and centres.
“Presently, the QECH is in urgent and dire need of many life-saving drugs and equipment.”
The Foundation thus says it needs the public’s support to join the fight against COVID-19.
“You can save a life with any contribution which can be in material or monetary terms. Our Foundation will accept cheques, bank transfers or mobile money transfers made directly to suppliers of any items that you may choose to purchase.
“We shall be happy to make all logistical arrangements for the collection and delivery of any items that you may purchase. All contributions will be duly acknowledged and strictly accounted for.”
For those wishing to contribute directly to the Covid Response Foundation, they can visit the website and follow instructions.
“We look forward to your urgent and generous intervention. Thank you for supporting the response to COVID-19 and in advance for committing resources to common services that will enable our frontline workers to safely deliver services and save lives.
However, the choice of name — Covid Response Foundation — attracted a debate on social media as it is being interpreted in skepticism.
Through Facebook, one of Malawi’s well-known social issue commentator, Onjezani Kenani was first to roll out a similar initiative which he named ‘Covid Response Private Citizens’ and within a week of its formation it was freehandedly supported by Malawians and non-Malawians across the globe.
In between, some unscrupulous people tried to highjack and defraud the project using Kenani’s trusted name, forcing him to alert people through social media to ignore the parallel money transfer numbers that were provided by the fraudsters.
This was because at the initial stage Kenani was using his personal accounts for people to deposit their contributions and the potential fraudsters prompted him to act quickly and create a special account with Standard Bank under the name, Covid Response Private Citizens.
Kenani has now once more informed the public through Facebook that he takes cognizance of the existence of Covid Response Foundation and applauded “the fellow Malawians who have registered such a foundation”.
“As I keep saying, this is an all-hands-on-deck moment, and anybody who wants to do something about our struggle as a nation is welcome to do so and is highly commended.
“I, therefore, congratulate the ‘Covid Response Foundation’. However, to avoid confusing with our movement, ours is ‘Covid Response Private Citizens’.
When brought to their attention on the name and the explanation that Kenani made, Covid Response Foundation chairperson, Chapola said the choice of name was extensively debated upon by members of the group and “among many suggestions that were brought up, this was the chosen name”.
“None of the members then knew of another existing similar name,” he said. “Focus must be on the initiative at hand and not names — more groups can come up and they are all welcome as we are all working toward the same goal.
“So the many groups out there, the better result we will have with this initiative.”
In another post marketing the Covid Response Foundation, questions were asked as to why the former Mayor and his team didn’t just join Kenani’s initiative — which is already trending positively.
But Chapola stresses that they “are not in competition and no one is working for glory. The task at hand is more that a few can handle.
“Government is reaching out to all Malawians to help out — there are many groups, companies and individuals out there that can be approached.
“Different personalities have differene affinities with different groupings. We should all be happy that more people and or groups are coming forward to assist.”
Other commentators tried to discredit Covid Response Foundation further, saying the management team is not gender sensitive, but Chapola their “group is open for any gender to join”.
“It’s just that it started with more men. There are ladies in the group too and playing very important roles. Anyone can join but for us, there is a joining fee of K100,000 per person.
“This will be our seed capital that we will use to immediately provide the necessary help.”
The grouping was only incorporated on January 19, 2021 and Chapola said they are finalizing other formalities to be able to appeal to citizens reasonably.
“Bank accounts are now ready, we have a website and collection points at Airtel and TNM. The seed capital from current members should all be paid in by this month end and the initial donation will be from our own resources. We are now ready to fly big.
On the list of specific medical supplies targeted, Chapola said they have already obtained a requirements list from Queens and they believe these needs are common for all hospitals.
“We are prepared to share this comprehensive list to all other groups fighting the pandemic for their usage.
“Let us all fight this pandemic with positive energy. Names might sound alike for any reason but we are in this together and we all want to fight and win the fight.
“None of us is in this for glory, join in any group that appeals to you — at the end of the day we all benefit as Malawians,” he said.
Bank account details: National Bank; Covid Response Foundation Limited; Henderson Street Branch; account# 1007176178; Swift Code NBMAMWMW.
FDH Bank; Covid Response Foundation Limited; Blantyre Branch; account# 1040000502362.
Airtel Money number is 0991 866 460, Mpamba 0889 512 008. Website www.crfmw.org