Courageous Msasa (right) receives the award she rightly deserves
* The recognition will play a bigger role as it will give her much energy to continue taking care of the children
* I will take this miniature to my children and encourage them to continue having hope that there is light ahead
* The award are meant to encourage Malawians to learn to appreciate and celebrate people while they are alive
By Victor Singano Jnr, Correspondent
During its inaugural presentation of its ‘Award of Excellence’, non-governmental organization, Young Achievers Development (YAD) recognised 12 Malawians for their outstanding and crucial individual roles that have helped to change lives of many people.
One of them is Courageous Mussa who looks after 70 orphans at her Courageous Kids Foundation — a youth-led residential home and academic institution that takes care of 70 street-rescued vulnerable kids, situated deep inside Chilobwe Township at hard-to-reach area of Naotcha.
The 28-year-old was simply overawed, saying the award has motivated her, saying recognition will play a bigger role as it will give her much energy to continue taking care of the children.
Mussa said she always faces challenges to meet the children’s everyday needs such as food and other resources and that this is a “great honour” to because since she opened the foundation, she “have never had an opportunity of being recognized”.
“I will take this miniature to my children and encourage them to continue having hope that there is light ahead,” she said.
In launching the award last week, YAD indicated that this was part of celebrating the efforts and positive contributions that brings change to the society, which will be taking place on every July 6 of the year.
Chairperson of the organizing committee, Albert Chigoga emphasized that the main objective of the initiative is to recognize Malawians that impact communities and societies they live in.
He also said the award are meant to encourage Malawians to learn to appreciate and celebrate people while they are alive on the development and great they’re doing.
Courageous, through her humble Foundation, is doing just that. She came to public prominence last month when a modest donation of fuel wood by CDH Investment Bank exposed resilient challenges she faces on daily basis taking care of 70 street-rescued vulnerable kids.
Courageous — a former street begging child — amongst its most needs is fuel wood to prepare hard earned food, which CDH Investment Bank had relieved them off through the huge tree logs it donated.
At the presentation last week, CDH Investment Bank’s marketing manager, Nancy Bisika said through the effects of Cyclone Ana in January, one of the huge trees that add ambience at their premises in Blantyre, fell down and they proceeded to chop it into logs.
As they were deciding whom to donate the logs, “who could make good use of them to make their lives better”, CDH Investment Bank officials came to know of the existence of Courageous Kids Foundation through the founder Courageous’ visibility and fliers she distributed highlighting the challenges that the school and home faces.
“We learnt that Courgaeous Kids does not have solid sponsors and spends about K8,000 a day to procure firewood for use to provide morning porridge and after school meals,” Bisika said.
“Of late, the Foundation has been struggling to afford firewood and at times kids are left without food and as such we thought we could help them with the tree logs to be used for cooking and for warmth during this cold winter season.
“This was the least noble thing we could do because we didn’t want the logs to benefit those who can afford but those in dire need of them — thus we decided to respond to Courageous’ plea for assistance of one of their daily needs.”
Indeed, the Courageous Kids Foundation needs support to complement what this former street beggar is doing, who was rescued from her street plight by Mulanje-based academic centre, Friends of Mulanje Orphans (FOMO) at the age of 13.
Upon completing her modest education she ventured into business — first to sustain herself and her sibling sister — but she felt it duty bound to accommodate some street kids, saying she just not could watch them experience the harsh environment she endured.
She said: “With the little money I could raise, I kept accepting more kids and I decided to give the little ones some basic education from nursery stage up to primary level where they enroll into government schools.
“As the number of children grew, our traditional chief advised us that we needed to liaise with the Social Welfare officials to make this into a recognised orphanage and we managed to have the Foundation officially registered.”
She disclosed that she teaches the elder children arts and crafts, whose products such as key holders and brooms, she sells for their upkeep and that through her visibility campaign she manages to attract some sponsors — that included Blantyre Round Table who donated some blankets and beds for the girls’ dormitories.
As of last month, she was raising funds towards paying her rentals at K510,000 three-months advance (K170,000 a month); replenishing her electricity units, which she spends at K12,000 a month and water at K6,000 a month.
“We have run out of pens, pencils and exercise books, of which I am appeal to well-wishers to assist with,” she said, adding that she has been given six months notice to vacate since the landlord intends to sell the house, saying she has also been offered to buy at K25 million.
“I can’t raise that much and it means I have to look for an alternative accommodation for these 70 children,” she sorrowfully said. “I can’t abandon them — we are family because we share the same background.
“These kids are geniuses in their studies and we have managed to produce two [for tertiary education] — one to the University of Malawi, a girl studying Bachelor of Science and a boy studying Bachelor of Sports Science at Malawi University of Science & Technology (MUST).
“None of my students — except those physically challenged — attain 2 digit positions in their exams in the public schools. The student that got selected to MUST attained 14 points in his Malawi School Certificate of Examinations.”
She said they treat each other as family and every member does their chores just like any Malawian family setting and that she receives encouraging moral support from her neighbourhood.
This is what CDH Investment Bank wanted to be exposed through this donation hoping “to grow awareness on the self-less works that Courageous Kids Foundation is offering and get more organisations to help this youthful team”.
“This fits in our group’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy which aims at supporting the vulnerable,” Bisika said. “As a specialist Bank, we are committed to helping organisation grow.
“We hope our activity shall encourage other well-wishers to come forward and help these youths, who are positively contributing towards the good of the nation.”
And now YAD has come to the fore to brighten her prominence through the Award of Excellence for her individual developmental roles.
The colourful ceremony took place at Golden Peacock Hotel in Blantyre on Thursday evening and in his remarks, guest of honour, Hitesh Anadkat commended YAD for organizing the program, saying if the country is to achieve more in different areas, there is a need for people to start recognizing individuals who are always puting other people’s effort at heart by reaching out to them with their resources with the aim of improving their lives as well as contributing to the development of the country.
“Helping each other from the limited resources we have, more especially the needy, the whole society stand a chance of becoming better,” he said. “So time has come for all Malawians to consider this because those struggling in life can only realize their future through our support.
“Today, YAD has set a good example despite being a small organization and let me take this opportunity to ask other people and companies to emulate such a good gesture so that we make Malawi a better country together by empowering skillful Malawians,” Anadkat said.
YAD Executive Director, Jefferson Milanzie expressed satisfactory with how the event went on which he said they have managed to achieve their dream though it wasn’t easy considering that they were hosting it for the first time.
Milanzie lamented over the tendance of honoring people when they are dead, saying such act deserves to end and that such heroes and heroines should start benefiting from their sweat while they are alive.
“As an organization, we believe that there power when you go to somebody who is doing something different and significant contribution to some social and community development because you give him/her strength to do more.
“We just thank all those who supported this plan and want to promise that we’ll continue doing it as an annual event,” he said.
Some of the awardees include social media influencer Pemphero Mphande, Schizzo Thomson, Kondwani Kachamba Ngwira, Felie Malola, Tusaiwe Munkhondya, Kondwani Sibale, Vasco Hamid and Brenda Mhlanga.
The categories of the awards were Entrepreneurship, Arts, Umunthu, Humanitarian, Environment, Innovation just to mention a few.—Additional reporting by Duncan Mlanjira, Maravi Express