By Duncan Mlanjira
Stewart ‘The Cyclist’ Kambewa has launched a long-term charity project named ‘2 Wheels 2 School’ that is aimed at assisting underprivileged rural school students.
With support from Blantyre Cycling Club members, Stewart sets the ball rolling to fundraise his project when they will hike up Mulanje Mountain on October 24 and ascend back. Then they shall cycle saddle-less 58km non-stop back to Blantyre.
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.
On Saturday, Stewart and his colleagues did some training by cycling from Blantyre CBD to Chilomoni where they hiked the mountain before descending and cycling to Ndirande to up its hill.
From there they cycled to Chimwankhunda to hike up and Soche Mountain and back.
Kambewa is appealing to the corporate world and other stakeholder organisations and individuals to support the long-term project which focuses on the mobility and financial constraints faced by secondary school students (boys and girls) in rural areas across Malawi.
“In the students’ quest to access educational facilities, we will be paying tuition fees for underprivileged girls and boys from January 2021 and we shall also provide bicycles for those with mobility challenges as well as meet the repairs for their bikes,” Kambewa said.
“The project, to reach out to 100 students in its first year whose beneficiaries will be Form 3 and Form 4 students, aims at improving secondary school access, helping them excel in their studies and complete school successfully, in the long run reducing secondary school dropout rate.
“The bicycles and repairs will be targeted at students who walk long distances to school.
“The beneficiaries will be identified through top class performance and the selection will be based on gender balance and once selected, the students will be under the wings of 2 Wheels 2 School in all three terms of each class — from Form 3-4,” Kambewa said.
The first company to respond towards the cause is Blantyre-based Nin9 Construction (pronounced nine), which has injected K100,000 and pledges to continue assisting as when needed.
The company’s team leader, Ian Kamwendo Kusala said when he was appraised of what Kambewa and his colleagues intended to do he felt it duty bound to assist and the donation was to set the ball rolling for the long-term project.
“I pledge to be one of partners of this project because I believe in it is important to assist underprivileged youths to attain their academic dreams,” he said.
“For me to be where I am and own a company, I was assisted by many others and if we help someone today, the blessings come back to us.”
Kusala, a graduate in Bachelor of Science and Physical Planning obtained at the Polytechnic, said Nin9 Construction — named after his home village ‘Nine Miles’ in Zomba — was established in 2018 and was honoured to be part of this initiative that one day shall groom experts that shall help develop the country.
He pledged to assist the Mulanje Mountain by supplying marketing golf shirts, banners and cycling reflectors.
Kambewa appraised Kusala that 2 Wheels 2 School will start operating in 3 secondary schools in the Southern Region (Nsanje, Neno and Blantyre); 4 in the Central (Dedza, Dowa and Lilongwe rural) and 3 in the North (Mzimba, Rumphi and Karonga).
“We are looking forward to raising K5 million for the project to successfully start and we are asking companies/organizations and all stakeholders to support project,” Kambewa said.
“The project will be closely monitored and evaluated at the end of each term by an independent team which we have identified.
“We would like to see the project flourish and make a positive impact in the lives of students in rural areas. And 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.”
Kambewa said they have lined up a number of initiatives — short and long term — which will help to drive and sustain the 2 Wheels 2 School project.
“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.