* Have reached halfway mark in Ntcheu on Day 4 of 10
* This is patriotism at its best—Tourism Minister Usi
* Corporate partner TNM dresses them up
* Kips Ice Cream Parlour brings refreshments
* Kukoma Cooking Oil pledges supper
By Duncan Mlanjira
Day 4 will remain eventful for the nine Blantyre to Lilongwe Big Walkers as they reach the half way mark after arriving at Ntcheu Boma exactly at 17:00 hours on Tuesday and along the way their morale was boosted when Minister of Tourism Michael Usi paid them a courtesy visit of encouragement.
The nine are walking to Lilongwe on an over driving distance of 360kms to raise funds that will be invested in the training and eventual certification of 100 tour guides across the country — thus the visit of encouragement by the Minister of Tourism himself.
The target is to raise K7 million for the cause organised by Paulendo Adventures, a Malawian tour company that aims at promoting tourism both local and international through travel, hiking and sustainability of the environment.
Also on the way, corporate partner TNM, who has made a platnum donation of K2 million to the cause, dressed them up with branded T-shirts and caps.
And on their way to Ntcheu from Chikondi Stop Over in Balaka where they had spent the night after Day 3, they posed beside an advertising billboard of Kips Restaurant‘s services at Ntcheu and tagged it with a message: “Kips Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlour, are you thinking of what we are thinking?”
The owner immediately drove over to cheer them up and later Kukoma Cooking Oil’s Ryan stopped by and pledged to offer them supper at the Ntcheu night sleep over.
Other community members walked with them in solidarity once they learnt of the cause while on Day 3, one they met, Mission Malango got interested in the walkers and when told what the event was for, he made a sacrificial donation of K100 on the spot.
“We appreciate the support that we are getting out here,” said the Walkers on their Facebook page while the Minister of Tourism applauded them and described their adventure as “patriotism at its best”.
The team left Blantyre on Saturday, spent first night in tents at Mdeka before reach their second night sleep over at Phalula on Sunday evening.
They celebrated covering their first 100km mark on Monday along the road from Phalula in Balaka to Chikondi Stop Over in the same district.
After excellent night hospitality by Chikondi Stop Over — also a tourism hotspot on its own right, they trudged on for Ntcheu.
Along the way, the team decided to reveal their 9th member, who is conspicuous in the pictures that they post on their Facebook page — Mudassir Anjum, an entrepreneur and social worker, who is a member of the Muslim Youth United, a philanthropic arm of Muslims in Malawi.
“He really wanted to remain as anonymous for he believes in giving with a left hand without letting the right one know, but due to public demand, here we are with Mudassir Anjum,” they wrote on their Facebook page.
One other member is an adventure-seeking academician, Holmes Banda — a lecturer of maths at the Polytechnic, who usually climbs mountains for fun.
Donation of any amount can be made through: National Bank of Malawi; Top Mandala Branch; Account Name Paulendo Adventures; account number: 1006755417.”
Or through Airtel Money (0999 650 826); TNM Mpamba (0881 034 149) and through GoFundMe (http://gf.me/u/y7bvu4). They have promised to present a summation of all the funds raised so far by close of business on Wednesday, Day 5.
They also reported that the scorching heat of Balaka really took a toll on them and had to make several stops under tree shades for fresh breathers, thus are appealing for donations of ice to be used for massaging their aching bodies.
Paulendo Adventures owner, Yangairo Yangairo said this adventure was mooted as a social responsibility of giving back to the tourism industry and taking cognizance of the role tour guides play.
Yangairo said tour guides play a great role in the tourism industry by training they and the public helping towards the cause are also contributing towards job creation.