* Most of the household items in the athlete’s house were also damaged when it collapsed due to effects of Cyclone Freddy
* Thus Madise was very moved and made the impromptu decision to forfeit his honoraria as Mphatso’s family is being accommodated by other relations
By Duncan Mlanjira
At the presentation of K1 million which Malawi National Council of Sports has donated towards the reconstruction of Paralympic star Mphatso Saukile, the Council’s chairperson Sunduzwayo Madise also forfeited his K600,000 annual Board honoraria to go towards the athlete’s family’s domestic upkeep.
This is after appreciating the condition of their welfare around Mphatso Saukile’s kinsfolk’s compound at Sogoja Village, Traditional Authority Mwambo in Zomba, which was heavily affected by effects of Cyclone Freddy that saw the Paralympic’s home destroyed.
Father to Mphatso explained that most of the household items in the athlete’s house were also damaged when it collapsed — thus Madise was very moved and made the impromptu decision to forfeit his honoraria as Mphatso’s family is being accommodated by other relations.
He apologized on behalf of Sports Council that the assistance has come a bit late since March when Cyclone Freddy wreaked damage across the Southern Region until when Standard Bank were the first corporate to come forward to assist with K1 million.
This was after Eneless Makumba, deputy matron of Zomba Athletics Academy — which groomed Saukile into a star with the assistance of Paralympic experts — volunteered to run the Standard Bank Be More Race to raise funds towards reconstruction of Saukile’s house.
When it was reported by Maravi Express that Eneless was to run in the annual international race, Standard Bank also made an impromptu decision to support the cause, which is targeting to raise over K4.5 million to also assist two more Zomba Athletics Academy athletes, whose homes were also damaged.
Madise told the gathering of Saukile’s kinsfolk — a function that was graced by Mayor of Zomba City, Councillor Dave Maunde; Village Chief Sogoja; Sports Council acting Executive Secretary, Boma and his staff; Zomba Athletics Academy members; as well as the media — that at the Be More Race prize presentation, Standard Bank Chief Executive, Phillip Madinga played a video of Eneless’ cause and he noticed that the athlete in question was wearing colours of Malawi national team.
“That’s when I realized that he is one of our own,” Madise said. “When I asked, I was told that indeed Mphatso is a great up-and-coming Paralympic, who won a gold medal for the country during the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Youth Games which we hosted in December 22 in Lilongwe and also represented the country in Italy [Jesolo Grand Prix in Venice from May 12-15] where he won the silver medal [in 1500m and 5th in 400m in Open-aged competition].
“I advised management of Sports Council that we needed to also do something to assist our own as well as highlight this cause for other wellwishers to also join us so that we all assist that Mphatso should be afforded a decent home.”
He thus appealed to the Zomba Athletics Academy young athletes present — some of whom represented Malawi at the Region 5 Youth Games — to take a leaf off Saukile’s achievements while at the same time encouraging them to be serious with their academic pursuits.
“I am a teacher by profession,” said the University of Malawi (UNIMA) Deputy Vice-Chancellor. “I am very glad and proud of Mphatso that he also attends school. This is admirable.
“I ask the representative of Chikamveka Primary School present here to make sure Mphatso realizes his dreams for further academic achievement. I also encourage parents present here that they should make sure they send their kids to school.
“No child should be denied their right to education. It is an important springboard to great achievement. I can attest to that because I went through similar village background but worked hard to realise my dreams of higher academic achievement.”
He profoundly acknowledged Eneless, wife to founder of Zomba Athletics Academy, Benedicto Makumba — a soldier with the Malawi Defence Force currently on UN peacekeeping mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) — for her fundraising efforts that brought the plight of Saukile to the public.
Eneless also intends to run in the Blantyre 42.195km Race on July 30 for the same fundraising cause and Madise emphasized on the need to support the initiative.
Those wishing to support the Makumba’s efforts, that include paying for secondary school fees for some of the Zomba Athletics Academy, are encouraged to deposit to Zomba Branch of the FDH Bank — Account name: Zomba Athletics Development Center; Account number: 1210000450527.
On her part, Village Head Sogoja was very emotional, saying what Sports Council and all wellwishers are doing to Saukile is such a noble cause that t, saying: “I am proud of Mphatso that despite his disability, he decided to make good use of it.
“The whole village is proud of his achievements that he travelled as far as Italy. We are proud that you decided to assist the son of our village. Others use our sons without any benefits, but you are different,” she said, attracting a huge round of applause from her elderly subjects.
She encouraged the youths to take a leaf off Mphatso’s achievements, saying there are plenty of them not living with any disability, yet they are idle, with some not serious with their education.
“Mphatso was different from the start,” she said. “While his parents and the village raised him, it was God the Almighty who guided him not to sit back but make use of the talent he has of running despite his disability.”
The Mayor, Councillor Maunde also applauded Sports Council for coming forward with the assistance, saying it has eased their duties since they also are supporting other communities which were affected by the Cyclone Freddy-induced rains.
He also said they would see how the City Council can also assist towards the fundraising initiative which Standard Bank and Sports Council is highlighting to the whole nation towards a Paralympic star, who pledged that the sky is the limit in his dreams to achieve best results for himself and country.