Sports Trends -It’s a satisfying feeling to win the Misa award

Sports Trends -It’s a satisfying feeling to win the Misa award
BY DUNCAN MLANJIRA
12:01:19 – 06 May 2008

When South African Felix Starker visited our newsroom last year asking for publicity for his adventure of cycling for 3,000kms back to his homeland to raise money for the rehabilitation of street children, I was spell bound that I didn’t need second thoughts but give him the coverage he needed.
And he went on to prove that really was a meticulous man because the moment he started his journey, he had created a blogspot and, through SMS messages, he communicated to his fellow missionaries here in Malawi on his whereabouts, who in turn updated the website.
I religiously followed the events posted on the blogspot and relayed the information to the public through this paper up until he concluded his 30-day journey and on his return here to announce how much he managed to collect.
When he was told how The Daily Times covered the event, Starker told me that “sincerely you deserve an award for this coverage”.
I was touched by his comment because all I thought I was doing was just a little contribution by The Daily Times in a way of publicity to his noble adventure.
But after a while, I decided to keep several copies of the stories I published in the hope of sending them for consideration for the 2007/08 Namisa Media awards and it was such a satisfying feeling to win the inaugural sports category.
What inspired me about Starker’s adventure was that the man was using sports for a noble cause. That showed that sport is a powerful tool for peace.
In many cases, warring factions have always taken a break if there was an important sporting event. Many national football teams have had assurances of safety whenever they were forced to travel to countries who were on civil unrest.
The warring parties always waited until the game was over and that the visitors had flown back to their homes for them to continue their internal dispute.
The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games is shrouded in political controversy because Tibetans are taking advantage of the Olympic Truce to demonstrate so that the world can intervene and force China to solve the problems existing in Tibet.
Sport is strong, sport unites and sport always makes humanity smile.
I saw that two weeks ago at Manyowe in Blantyre when the residents there took time off their busy schedule to gather together and participate in various activities in a spirit of camaraderie.
Today Starker and Step Kids Awareness (Steka), an NGO that takes street children off the street and back to school for which the South African was assisting, have a home at Nyambabwe in Blantyre where they teach the children how to appreciate life and impress on them to return to school.
There are so many street urchins in Malawi — many are a real nuisance — but do we ever consider the enormous potential they have?
Starker did and he went around asking for sponsorship and he really got good support from the corporate world and several individuals.
During the trip, he was once refunded money he paid for his night’s accommodation in Mozambique when the owners of the lodge discovered what he was trying to achieve.
When he finished his journey I asked in this column that can’t such street children be checked if they possess certain skills in sport?
Boxing coach Andson Kazembe saw the potential in them and he teaches them boxing.
So I am a proud man today for being voted the Best Namisa Sports Journalist of the Year.
Many readers were calling me last year encouraging me to keep updating them on Starker’s progress and that prompted me to continue pursuing the story up to the end.
Did I hear you say congrats? Wow, thank you!

Diary of two street children

Diary of two street children
BY CHARLES MPAKA
13:12:33 – 15 January 2008

It is around 6:30 am. It’s a cold January morning. It has been raining so hard in the past night. Elias and his brother had to move to the corner of their house to avoid getting wet.

Elias (14) wakes up his brother, Harry (7).

If statistics accounted for everyone, Elias and Harry would have been among the estimated 1 billion children worldwide deprived of normal childhood and condemned to face poverty.

They could have been among the 4 million children in Malawi deprived of at least one of the seven basic rights.

According to United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), these essentials are water, schooling, information, health care, food and proper shelter.

Elias and Harry stay in Mgangala. This is a slum reportedly relocated from another slum called Mtopwa, a place east of Limbe town and famous for prostitutes and abundance of the traditional brew, Kachasu.

Mgangala lies squeezed between Limbe-Luchenza railway line and the slum part of BCA on the Western side and Luchenza River and Namiyango on the opposite one.

There is no adequate safe water supply here. So the Luchenza River, heavily polluted as it passes through the Namatapa area of Bangwe Township, supplies the water for most domestic requirements.

A considerable number of dwellings here are grass-thatched mud walls. Elias and Harry come from one such shelter.

Most blind begging families common in Limbe come from this location, together with their children who form a good number of street child beggars in Limbe.

But Elias and Harry are children of blind parents. Their father died sometime back and Elias does not remember when that was.

Their mother is alive but she is usually away for a longtime on menial jobs. Currently she is in Chilomoni, working at a house building project. She fetches water for use at the site.

“Months pass without us seeing her. She comes when the project finishes,” Elias says.

So the children stay in their hut alone. When they have money, they buy their own food. But that is rare. So they eat at their sister’s place.

She is the first born in their family. Elias came next. She stays somewhere within the location. She is not employed, but she is married — to a young man whose job it is to carry people’s luggage at Limbe main market.

“It’s not so often that we are with our sister. We are in town almost all the time. We go to her house usually in the evening, if there is anything for us to eat.”

Neither do they travel with their brother-in-law to and from their work. He comes back late everyday and leaves very early, usually hours before Elias and his brother are awake.

Harry takes off their blankets Elias calls rags. There is no breakfast for them. There is nothing like washing their faces. Nothing is unusual in these things. There is no changing their dirty clothes they have worn and slept in for the past two weeks or so.

It’s showering but they join other Mgangala residents on a
4-kilometre walk to Limbe, barefoot.

It is estimated that there are between 100 and 150 million street children worldwide. Elias and Harry might not be in those figures.

And it is projected that by 2020, the year many countries in the world dream of near perfect economies, development and governance, there will be about 800 million urchins in the world’s streets.

No one would know toady where Elias and Harry would be at that time.

But for now, they are in the streets looking forward to nothing. Elias has been there for a long time. Harry is growing up there, according to his brother. Everybody sees them. No one cares for them.

In its State of the World’s Children (2006) report, Unicef says street children are among the most physically visible of all vulnerable children everywhere in the world.

“Yet, they are among the most invisible and therefore the hardest to reach with vital services such as education and health care and the most difficult to protect,” says Unicef.

Elias, a boy of robust stature and a face harder than his age, doesn’t remember when he and his brother took to the streets. But it was after their father had died.

“It’s a long time ago when Harry was very young,” Elias says as he scratches the scabies plaguing his right arm.

But he remembers that some organisation did approach him one day and advised him to go back to school.

The organisation gave him some exercise books. But that was the first and last time he heard about an organisation helping street children.

He quit school in Standard 4 at Naizi Primary School in Bangwe. He went back into the streets of Limbe.

The township is often cluttered with shoppers, motor vehicles, minibus touts, vendors and prowling pickpockets and roughnecks. It is a filthy nauseating place, with terrible buildings, bad streets and wretched pavements.

Here, in this ugly township, Elias and Harry lead their lives everyday.

They separate as soon as they arrive at the start of their day.

Today, like yesterday, like last week and last year, Harry is at the People’s main shop now, then at the U-Save Shoprite and at Metro later. He visits the same places twice, thrice and more. People are not giving him anything.

A few hours ago, he and his friends broke off from the main course of duty. They do that often. They went rummaging through piles of rubbish at the old bus depot behind the toilets. Some of the mess is stuck on his greyish shorts.

Before that they collected recyclables especially cigarette packets, cooking oil bottles and beer cans.

“We sell them at the market. Somebody uses them. But he said he did not want them today. So we threw them away,” says Harry.

In good days, he does get some K30 from this errand. But sometimes the bigger boys take the money away from him.

Often he buys some food with the money he gets.

“When we are sorting the rubbish sometimes we get bread. So we keep the money for tomorrow.”

But today has been special. Somebody invited him and his friend for rice with meat.

For his lunch, Elias has had porridge down near Limbe River. They sell porridge there and he bought some for K10.

He could have shared it with his brother. But he doesn’t know where he can get him.

Elias does not beg.

“People tell me I’m grown up. They say I should find work or go back to school.”

He cannot tell what 3 times 9 equals to now. He struggles to give the product of 3 multiplied by 3.

“I do want to go to school but it’s difficult.”

He carries people’s luggage.

“It’s hard work but I do get good money out of this. But on unlucky days, you carry luggage and people refuse to pay you. You don’t protest for fear that they might beat you.”

But today, since morning, he has been selling plastic bags at the Shoprite. This is somebody’s business and Elias will get whatever his employer wishes, may be K30 for selling K200 worth of bags.

Time is inching closer for them to leave fo
r home. He will soon have to go to the owner of the plastic bags who has a bench of groceries near where Machinjiri minibuses park.

From there he will be going home. His brother will come at the Shoprite very shortly. That’s where they meet at the end of their day.

And at around 5:15, little Harry appears on the other side of Customs Road. It’s a busy street at this time of the day. The pavement is bubbling with humanity.

Vehicles are whizzing past in the double lanes. Harry waits for a break in one of the lanes and then runs before the approaching car arrives. He ducks through the slow cars in the other lane.

Unicef says street children become prone to engage in illegal work such as petty thieving.

“Many are led into illicit, thrilling and dangerous world of crime syndicates that run rings of pick pocketing, burglary, drug trafficking and prostitution,” says the organisation.

Elias says he has not come to this yet.

But as Unicef observes, Elias and his brother accepts they are growing up in an environment of aggression that is part of the subculture of the children.

They fight amongst themselves, sometimes for the sake of it or to initiate one another into the filed. And they are beaten frequently by bigger boys, ridiculed and exploited by people.

“We experience these things everyday. We are growing up with them. They are painful but may be that’s about being in the streets and we are used,” Elias says.

In 2020, Harry will be 19 years old. Elias will be 26. They may have become lords of gangs of burglars and drug traffickers then.

May be not, but that depends on what happens now for them.

By 2004, the year Elias thinks he left school at Naizi, Council for Non-governmental Organisation of Malawi (Congoma) had over 175 paid up local and international member organisations.

36 of them were in the orphan care sector. 51 were in the food security and nutrition, 70 were in health and 22 were in advocacy. Some of them cut across the sectors.

Elias has been reached once for all the time he has been in the streets. Harry, clever like an imp, says he doesn’t know what else he could be because no-one has ever told him about life away from the streets.

Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP) is one of the emerging organisations working on minority groups such as vulnerable children.

The organisation says strides have been made in terms of awareness of the plight of children in general.

“But we need to come together and evaluate our performance. Individually, you can point out some successes,” suggests Gift Trapence, CEDEP Programs Manager.

Trapence thinks that one thing certain to come out in such joint evaluation is that organisations have been dealing more with results than roots of the problem.

“The problem of street children does not start in the street. It starts from elsewhere and it is cyclical. That’s where efforts ought to be directed now and we have to move fast,” he says.

Consortium for Street Children is a 54-member UK based organisations. It is dedicated to welfare and rights of street children and those at risk of taking to street life.

Some of its members include Save the Children (UK), Every Child, Goal and Friends of Chisomo, a UK fundraising arm of Malawi’s Chisomo Children Fund.

In its State of the World’s Street Children (2007), the consortium suggests strengthening research, developing an inclusive society and promoting state protection for the street child.

2015, the year targeted for attainment of Millennium Development Goals, is barely 7 years away.

Time flies. 2015 and 2020 might shatter people’s expectations just as the promise of darkness closes the day for Elias and Harry.

It is almost 5:30 pm and cloud is gathering. Soon it may start to rain and they have to be running home.

Harry remains behind and exchanges a bit of Karate with friends who sleep in town behind shops and other corners.

Tomorrow, Harry tells his inquisitive friends, his other brother (11) might come. He could not come today because he broke his foot in the streets yesterday.

Elias, well ahead, shouts at Harry to be going. A friend lays into the little boy’s ribs a parting punch. Harry takes it bravely but swears at his friend, to the shock of passers-by, and runs off after his brother.

This boy’s life a sad tale

This boy’s life a sad tale

VASCO’S STORY | 10-year-old child’s situation in east Africa leaves one with a feeling of complete helplessness

October 26, 2007

BLANTYRE, Malawi — They warned me about this.

They said to be careful, to not get too close, to not let "it" get to me, to not become overwhelmed or "too emotional."

After about three weeks of behaving myself and keeping my head and heart in check while traveling through east Africa, I did exactly what they said not to do.

I fell in love. Hopelessly, helplessly, achingly in love.

His name is Vasco. He’s 10. It was love at first sight on my part, though I can’t speak for the Malawian child who has broken my heart with his.

As he sat on my lap and leaned his narrow back into my chest, I could feel his heart thumping hard — much too hard for a boy who was sitting still and hadn’t been running around. Each beat of Vasco’s heart shook his slight body so intensely that I could see a bulge on the left side of his narrow chest moving under the shirt he wore, the one with the word "chisomo" on it.

At 10, he’s the size of an average American 6-year-old and weighs about half of what the suitcase I’ve been lugging around Africa does.

I met Vasco when his caseworker, Mac, from a philanthropy in Blantyre that works with the city’s many street children, took me to the outskirts of town to meet the little boy with the broken heart.

While we don’t yet know precisely what Vasco’s medical diagnosis is — basic health care for the very poor here is difficult at best, and treatment for specialized cases (such as pediatric cardiology) is even more so — Mac and Vasco’s aunt, Esme, said the little guy has an enlarged heart with a hole in it. Last week, a doctor in Blantyre said that, while more tests are being done, he thinks Vasco needs lifesaving surgery — and soon, according to Mac.

Had to leave him behind

Vasco pants when he walks and sweats in the shade. He doesn’t complain and tries to keep up. He loves soccer but can only watch. He smiles a shy smile, but I got the feeling it was more for my benefit than anything else. Orphans like Vasco get used to having their picture taken and smiling for strangers in a strange land who might lift them out of poverty.

A few years ago, Vasco’s mother and father died of AIDS, and like so many children in this part of the world, he ended up living on the streets of Blantyre. That’s where someone found him and took him to the philanthropy that works with street children, sheltering and feeding them until they are able to place them with extended family.

After months of searching, when Mac found Vasco’s aunt and uncle, the boy went to live with them. They take good care of him with their limited resources.

When I visited the family, Vasco’s aunt brought out a manila envelope from her mud and wattle hut and handed it to me. Inside was a wrinkled X-ray of Vasco’s chest showing an enormous dark shadow where his oversize heart is. One of Vasco’s cousins showed me a plastic baggie with his daily medication, chalky white pills smaller than aspirin.

I only had a few days in Malawi and tried to do what I could to make sure Vasco saw a doctor immediately. But things move slowly in the developing world. And then there’s the problem of apathy and corruption.

When my husband and I told the director of the street children’s philanthropy about our grave concerns for Vasco, he dismissed them with an emotionless "there are many children with many needs, and we can only do so much."

Mind you, this was after the director had taken us to a church service (at the fast-growing congregation where he’s an elder) where, after four hours, the preacher hadn’t preached yet, but the collection plate had been passed three times. When an elder announced that the budget for an upcoming celebration of the pastor’s 50th birthday was $40,000 and asked people to give more, I felt sick to my stomach, got up and left.

There hadn’t been a word about the poor, the sick, or the orphans standing on the corner down the block. Just the gospel of prosperity, a bless-me club for Christians consumed with the search for personal holiness.

As I leapt out of the director’s fancy pickup truck back at our motel a half hour later, I basically begged him to make sure Vasco saw a doctor as soon as possible. He said, "I’ll try to see what can be done."

I wanted to slug him and then beat him with my Bible.

We stopped to see Vasco on our way to the airport and heard him yell, "I’m coming!" (in Chichewa, Malawi’s national language) from the hut where he sleeps.

"Don’t run!" Mac, my husband and I shouted in unison.

Vasco climbed into my lap, his rabbit heart thunk-thunking as he spoke softly, playing with my hands as I hugged his knobby knees.

I told him I loved him and kissed his head. I wanted to throw him in my carry-on bag and run. (He would have fit.) But I couldn’t do that. I had to leave him behind.

I’ve never felt so helpless in my life. I can’t fix his heart myself, but I can tell his story.

By the way, in Chichewa, "chisomo," the word on the T-shirt Vasco was wearing when we met, means "grace."

Street kids miss family values

Street kids miss family values
BY Duncan Mlanjira, The Daily Times
09:43:30 – 16 July 2007

Fourteen days after completing 3,000kms bike ride to South Africa to raise awareness of the plight of street children, South African Missionary Felix Starker intends to set up a reform home where these kids can learn the family values they do not enjoy.

The new home will enable the kids to appreciate the potential they have to become influential citizens in the future.

Starker went on this long and difficult journey on June 1 and completed it on June 30 and after collecting pledges from Malawian sponsors, he is expected to raise over K1.12 million, which he and Steka want to use to set up the reform home where the children, most of whom come from broken marriages, could realise their potential.

“These children need counselling,” Starker said on Saturday at one of the sponsors MultiChoice Malawi premises in Blantyre soon after his arrival at Chileka Airport. “They need our love because it’s what they have missed.

“From what we have discovered, most of these children are not orphans, they have parents whose marriages broke up.

“Most of them are from single parent homes and are encouraged to go into the streets to beg because they are not well provided for at their homes,” he said.

He said it was wrong to give the children money because such handouts encouraged them to stick to the streets.

“There are several orphanages in South Africa where people go to on weekends to pick up a kid and spend a lovely time with in their homes just like their own children.

“This is what we can also do here. Take them out and spoil them, give them the love they miss and inspire them to work hard in school so that they too can enjoy such luxury in the future,” Starker said.

He was optimistic that his plans would materialise because he now had many friends in South Africa who know of Steka’s existence.

“Trust Steka now as an indigenous-run NGO. They are genuinely doing something for street children and I will see to it that they get a good foundation.”

Also present at the press briefing was MultiChoice’s Office Manager Freddo Chikalimba, who made a bold confession that he was a product of street roaming himself.

“I am proud of what you have done and I want you to know that I am where I am because someone inspired me to get off the streets,” he said.

“I was a street kid myself until I was 15 years old when a Good Samaritan took me in and paid for my school fees. I felt loved and I worked hard to repay that love.

“It’s not easy being in the streets, you have to be tough and I must say most of these robbers are products of the streets because they learn to be rough in order to survive.

“I concur with you that street children need love and what you are about to set up, a reform home, is a noble venture that will surely change this nation and I am very proud of you,” he said while urging all Malawians to support this noble programme.

Steka is a registered local NGO that helps victims of child abuse by inspiring them to become reliable and productive citizens and its director Godknows Maseko and three other Steka volunteers, Stanley Hara, Emmanuel Saiva and Daiton Machira, completed a similar fund-raising campaign by walking for 21 days from Blantyre to Mzuzu via Zomba and Lilongwe, covering a total distance of 898km in February this year.

The four people’s accomplishment motivated Starker to try the 3,000kms bike tour to South Africa.

On his blogger – http://www.felix-fila.blogspot.com – Starker says: “With the recent increasing reports of child abuses especially on defilement cases in Malawi Steka has nationalised awareness operation in the interest of educating and expressing concern to the magnitude and severity of child abuse in Malawi.

“The organisation felt strongly that a big campaign walk with collective action will redeem children from the pandemic as child abuses have became an integral part of the widespread domestic violence.”

Steka’s Finance Director Joseph Munyonga said their mission in February was not solely to raise funds per se for the organisation but to get the nation realise that there was potential in these children in reforming them back into school.

“It’s our job to take these children off the streets and inspire them to get the education that can reform them into useful citizens,” Munyonga said.

“People should be conscious that these children are our hope for the future, they are in the streets not because of their making but because of circumstances beyond their control.

“By transforming them, we are building this nation and we at Steka are proud to have had our prayers answered because God sent us Mr. Starker to help us in our goal to reform the children,” he said.

Starker reported that he had a wonderful journey through Mozambique, then into Swaziland before entering South Africa for Pretoria.

“It was such a safe trip that South African journalists, who came to cover the final stretch, joked that there was no news in my trip because nothing happened to me.

“God protected me and He helped me make so many friends along the way, who assisted me in many ways – and never asked for any payment.

“Steka is now well known in South Africa and my friends already have Steka in their plans. So what we intend to set up here is going to receive support both within and outside this country.”

Starker came into the country as a missionary three years ago and during that period he helped set up a farm for Kondanani Orphanage at Bvumbwe in Thyolo District and also worked with Tiyamike Mulungu Centre at Bangula in Nsanje for a couple of months.

He said the trip was an enlightenment for him because he had come to be part of this nation and by helping Steka, he intended to complete his missionary work a satisfied man.

During the trip, Starker covered over 100kms from Blantyre to Mwanza, about 2,000kms in Mozambique then the rest into Swaziland and to Pretoria in South Africa, a total of 2,959.4kms in 186 hours and 36 minutes.

On his arrival in Pretoria, he was welcomed by local traffic police and a vehicle from one of the sponsors, Group 4 Securicor and he was also interviewed by one of the main Afrikaans newspapers.

Starker received a lot of support along the way like when he arrived in South African town of Middleburg, he found there were no single rooms available at Midway Inn where he intended to stay for the night but they kindly gave him a double room for the price of a single room.

But when he returned from a [prayer] cell group later there was an envelope in his room with a refund of the money – that was after they learnt of the man’s noble cause of his adventure.

“I am back to prepare for the second trip and I want this to be bigger and more exciting by involving more sponsors,” Starker said. “So I pray that I will receive more support and once again I say a big thank you to all who made th
is a success.”

Starker’s corporate sponsors (in alphabetical order) include: AB Mechanical, Agora, APL, Bata Shoes, Beit Cure International Hospita, Blantyre Cycle Club, BMW, Candl, CarGill, CFAO, Colgate, Combined Cargo, CPC, Chibuku, Deekay, Entyre, Ericsson, Farmers Organisation, GPH Auto body repairs, Group 4 Securicor, Henred Fruehauf Malawi, Illovo (one tonne of sugar), Innscor, IT Centre, Land Rover, Leopard Match, MacSteel, Manica Malawi, Midway Inn (Middelburg, South Africa), Monolux Paints, MultiChoice, Nico, Ori Meat, Portfolio Graphic Design, Quinta de St Antonio (Mozambique), Riverside Spares (Swaziland), Robray, Siku Transport, Standard Bank, St. Patrick’s Academy, Stanfield Motor, TFI Welding Services (South Africa), Toyota Malawi, Ukhozi Glass (Swaziland), Universal Industries, Zululand Cycles (South Africa).

Family and friends sponsors: Samuel Mlanjira (Malawian student in UK), Andrew Baster, Aslam Sabadia, Cathy Franze, Eddie Smith, Godsknows Maseko, Phil Wetten,
Piet Linda Uys, Rashid Jakhura (all in Malawi), Rodney Leoni Starker Fox (sister), Ewald Starker (brother), Althea Meyer, Andrew Acker, Basil Kenmuir, Christo Martie, Grobler Jock Anderson, Johan Smuts, Leslie Kenmuir, Oom Hennie de Swart, Skallas Yolande Smit, Tienie van Schalkwyk (all from South Africa), Bram Joke Schoo, Chrissie Onderstal, Marcel Glenda (Holland), Brian (Canada), Cal MacLennan, Dave and Sue Godfrey (UK), Clifton Koen (Swaziland), Dave Lewis, Dennis Appel, Kirk and Jayne Flanagan (USA), Jerry and Gina Silva, Neels and Margie Botma, Paul and Adele Rodo, Vic and Adelaine dos Santos (Mozambique).

Sports Trends – Congratulations to Starker for finishing the 3,000kms to SA

Sports Trends – Congratulations to Starker for finishing the 3,000kms to SA
BY Duncan Mlanjira
10:02:08 – 03 July 2007


All for the noble cause of raising awareness of the plight of street kids in Malawi as well as globally, South African Felix Starker wound up his missionary work in Malawi by undertaking the 3,000kms bike ride to his homeland.
Starker, not a regular cycling athlete, used sports to tell the world that we need to realise that there is potential in these children by inspiring them to go back to school.
And I am saying that we should use Starker’s awareness by also roping in these little wanderers by training them into various sporting disciplines.
I am very sure that there is a gold-winning athlete in these little street kids, reduced to begging because of various family problems.
Our correspondent Patrick Achitabwino ably analysed Monday in his piece on the sport pages that sport can be an effective tool in the fight against HIV/Aids because the youths will be too engrossed in perfecting their talent that they would not indulge in immoral behaviour.
The street children roam about begging but if they can be positively put together in an sports academy they can never think of going back to the street should they get the chance of participating at local and international level where they would strive to get the medal and earn something.
Sport is self-paying and the little girls that wander through the streets can never be tempted to sleep with the selfish and immoral men, who entice them with little cash as low as K50.
Most of the young girls found in pubs and streets as prostitutes started as little beggars and once they started realising they could make a quick buck by accepting to sleep with fellow wanderers, they resorted to prostitution.
Like Starker has done by using cycling sport to raise the plight of the street kids, let’s use the same platform as well to integrate these victims of circumstances back into society.
Starker is now in Pretoria and very proud that his long and dangerous venture would one day uplift the life of some kid, who would have been destined to premature death because of Aids or other nasty incidents.
The South African was well supported and I pray that should a local athlete or anybody try the same adventure, however small, let’s support them.
When we were chronicling Starker’s journey, a certain reader threw an unfortunate racist remark at me, saying we were all excited with Starker because he was white.
While I didn’t like the racist tone but I must admit I agreed with him.
We locals don’t seem to exude any confidence from potential benefactors because we lack accountability.
And that lack of accountability is prevalent in sports. Most sports associations don’t get support in most of their fund-raising ventures because of lack of transparency.
A lot of money benefits the sports officials than the athlete and that’s why potential sponsors shun many of our activities.
While we may all cry that we are willing to do what Starker did but we never get the support because we are black, start by being proactive.
Start a very ambitious project; lay out the plans in a meticulous and transparent report that would convince the sponsors that indeed every penny will help the underprivileged.
If, say, athletics wanted to round up all the street kids and try to identify talent in them, I am quite sure a sponsor can be impressed as long as our strategy would market such a benefactor.
So, congratulations to Starker and all the sponsors who made this possible and let’s think on how we can get these street kids back into school and possibly get them to know a certain sport they can excel in.
Most of these kids don’t know sport because of lack of resources but they can get the exposure in schools.
God bless you all.

Starker covers over 500kms in four days

Starker covers over 500kms in four days
BY Duncan Mlanjira
10:00:58 – 06 June 2007

By Monday, missionary Felix Starker, who is on a 3,000kms bike ride to South Africa to raise funds for street children, had covered over 500kms in three days.
Starker’s http://www.felix-fila.blogspot.com reported that he left Tete in Mozambique for Luenha, 95kms away and managed the 150kms on Monday.
Starker left the country at 7:00am on Friday and by 6:30pm he had travelled 109kms in six hours and 7 minutes.
He covered 134kms on day two in seven hours and 42 minutes and after day three he had travelled for over 340kms.
The South African missionary has undertaken this long journey to his home country to raise funds for Blantyre-based Street Kids Awareness Inc. (Steka).
He left Blantyre from one of the sponsors MultiChoice Malawi offices at 7;00am and he was escorted by 10 riders from Blantyre Cycling Club all the way to Mwanza.
The send off was very emotion as various sponsors and well-wishers gathered at MultiChoice offices and even attracted the interest of scores of passers-by, who cheered the man on after learning what the missionary intended to do.
MultiChoice’s Managing Director Eddie Smith told the gathering that they were proud to be one of the sponsors for Starker’s noble journey, which apart from helping Steka, the initiative was also meant to raise awareness on the plight of abused children.
“This is a great day for abused children,” he said. “We read a lot of sad stories about children being abused and we should all join hands in stopping this.
“So, Felix will be travelling into Mozambique, Swaziland and into South Africa spreading the message that we should all fight against child abuse.
“Felix is a great person, he has the passion for the Lord and that is manifested in his love for children. During his two years of missionary work, he helped strengthen orphanage based in Bvumbwe and Bangula,” Smith said.
The other companies who have so far contributed K900,000 include AB Mechanical, Agora, APL, Bata Shoes, Beit Cure Int Hospital, Blantyre Cycle Club, BMW, Candlex, CarGill, CFAO, Colgate, Combined Cargo, CPC, Chibuku Products, Deekay Suppliers, Entyre, Ericsson, Farmers Organisation, Group 4 Securicor, Henred Fruehauf Malawi, Illovo (one ton of sugar), Innscor, IT Centre, Land Rover, Leopard Match, Mac Steel, Manica Malawi, Monolux Paints, MultiChoice, Nico, Ori Meat, Portfolio Graphic Design, Robray, Siku Transport, Standard Bank, St. Patrick’s Academy, Stanfield Motors, Toyota Malawi, Universal Industries.
Family and friends sponsors are Aslam Sabadia, Cathy Franzel, Eddie Smith, Godsknows Maseko, Phil Wetten, Piet Linda Uys, Rashid Jakhura (all from Malawi), Althea Meyer, Skallas Yolande Smit, Tienie van Schalkwyk, Basil Kenmuir, Christo Martie Grobler, Jock Anderson, Leslie Kenmuir (all from South Africa), Bram Joke Schoon, Chrissie Onderstal, Marcel Glenda (Holland), Brian (Canada), Cal MacLennan (UK), Dave Lewis, Dennis Appel, Kirk and Jayne Flanagan (US), Ewald Starker (brother), Rodney Leoni Starker Fox (sister).
Standard Bank, who donated K40,000, will also provide refreshments for Starker at every Standard Bank in Mozambique, Swaziland and into South Africa.
The route he is taking is Blantyre-Mwanza-Tete-Chimoio-Inhabane-Xai Xai-Maputo then into South Africa’s Komatie Poort before entering Swaziland through Enpangeni and then up to Pretoria.
In an interview with journalists, Starker said he was very excited that the dream he planned over two years ago was now a reality.
He said he had trained hard for it having covered over 6,000 kilometres as practise in the past year.
“Let’s pay more attention to street kids and all abused children, they have the potential to help in the development of the country in the future if given the chance,” he said.
Meanwhile, Starker’s journey is being updated everyday on http://www.felix-fila.blogspot.com.
He is armed with his 24-speed mountain bike with dog-trailer where he is keeping his gear such as sleeping bag, camping tent, spare tyres and others and he stops about every 30kms for rest.
Steka Inc. is a registered local NGO that help the victims of child abuse by inspiring them to become reliable and productive citizens.
The NGO’s director Godknows Maseko other volunteers completed a similar fund-raising campaign by walking for 21 days from Blantyre to Mzuzu via Zomba and Lilongwe, covering a total distance of 898km in February 2007.
His accomplishments motivated Starker to try the 3,000kms bike tour.

Madonna daughter, Lourdes, visit social rehab centre for street children in Malawi

Madonna daughter, Lourdes, visit social rehab centre for street children in Malawi

 
 
 
Madonna talk to an aide as she leave a center for street children, in the Malawian capital, Lilongwe.(AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo)

 
 
Madonna talk to an aide as she leave a center for street children, in the Malawian capital, Lilongwe.(AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo)

Khaled Kazziha, Canadian Press

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2007

LILONGWE, Malawi (AP) – Madonna and her nine-year-old daughter, Lourdes, visited a centre for street children that benefits from the charity work the pop star is doing in this impoverished southern African country.

Madonna, wearing her now familiar straw hat, and Lourdes arrived at the centre Wednesday and were whisked into the compound of three buildings. The 48-year-old singer is visiting Malawi to check on projects run by her Raising Malawi organization.

She arrived Monday with Lourdes and David Banda, the Malawian toddler she is hoping to adopt.

Singing and clapping were heard coming from children inside what is called a social rehabilitation centre in the capital. The centre cares for about two dozen children, providing them with food, clothing and schooling before reintegrating them into their communities.

A crowd of onlookers cheered "Madonna, Madonna" when she arrived.

"Well done, Madonna. We love you. Adopt more," read the sign carried by Richmond Muchina.

"I love Madonna and she is most welcome," he said. "I wish she would come every week. She must adopt more and more because she has got the power."

The Spirituality for Kids program, based on Kabbalah, Judaism’s mystical sect that counts Madonna among its devotees, is involved with the centre.

Madonna took custody of then 14-month-old David during a visit to Malawi in October. The move sparked controversy and raised concerns that regulations were being swept aside to benefit a pop star who has been generous to the country.

Madonna maintains she has followed the law.

Miss Malawi 1st Princess to educate street kids

Miss Malawi 1st Princess to educate street kids
BY MARCUS MUHARIWA
02:14:28 – 05 December 2006

Almost clocking six months basking in the glory of being Malawi’s 1st Princess, Tusekile Wilkinson has dedicated all her energy during her reign to change the lives of street children in Lilongwe by sending them to school.

Wilkinson, under her Sound Culture Promotions, on Friday held a Karaoke Night Bash at the Shark to raise money with which she intends to send 9 boys who live in the streets of the capital city to school in January next year.

“As 1st Princess of Miss Malawi, I have social obligations to fulfil and my passion is to help the street kids who we pass by in town everyday. I decided that the best help I can provide for these kids is sending them to school,” Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson said after meeting the children aged between 6 and 9 in different streets of Lilongwe just after a few days in her new status, she asked them to take her to their parents where she found out that the parents were too poor to send the children to school.

The 1st princess’ fundraising efforts began early November when her promotion outfit organised a Banana Beach Party at the Portuguese Sports Club where she managed to raise about K60, 000.

“At first I approached different companies in Lilongwe for sponsorship like Celtel and Uniliver but I was told that I had to talk with their head offices in Blantyre which I could not manage so I decided to start with the little I had,” Wilkinson said.

When the nine boys get enrolled this coming January and their school fees paid, Wilkinson said she would be giving money to their parents on a weekly basis to support the boys as she will be carrying out other activities to raise more funds.

“I have learnt that not all children that we see loitering in the streets of our cities and towns are orphans. They have parents and guardians and these people simply don’t have the capacity to support the children’s education and provide them with the necessities,” she said.

Lilongwe street children get new home

Lilongwe street children get new home
BY DICKSON KASHOTI
02:56:23 – 06 November 2006

The population of street children in Lilongwe is expected to go down following the construction of a K11 million Chisomo Children’s Club, which officially opened its doors on Saturday amid concerns of rampant abuse of children in the country.

Minister of Women and Child Development Kate Kainja Kaluluma officially opened the doors of the magnificent house in the Capital City whose major donor is Maxwell Hart who donated 50,000 Pounds from the sale of his estate through the Tearfund of Actionaid.

Kaluluma said she was concerned with reports that some watchmen in Lilongwe were cashing in on street children by charging a fee when the street kids sleep on the verandas of shops.

“The government would take drastic action against such watchmen. There is no need to charge these poor children, the government would not sit back and watch,” warned Kaluluma.

She commended Chisomo Children’s Club for its programmes on children, which she said are the best and asked other donors to help such institutions other than helping children on the streets.

Chisomo Children’s Club has assisted more than 2055 children to date and 1160 are orphans.

Executive Director of Chisomo Children’s Club Nelson Mkandawire said the institution encourages the government, the public, churches, businesses, schools, communities and families to assume the responsibility of taking care of the street children.

Mkandawire asked the government to take stern action against child abusers, saying of late the press has reported more cases of child abuse which he said was very worrisome and disturbing.

Chisomo helps children move away from dangerous form of child labour that are detrimental to their development.

Chisomo Children’s Club is part of Living Waters Church which has its headquarters in Blantyre.

‘Lack of love in homes increasing street children’

‘Lack of love in homes increasing street children’
by Chikumbutso Ndaferankhande , 20 October 2006 – 03:27:09
Chisomo Children’s Club, an organization dealing with street children say one of the factors promoting the tendency of street vending is lack of loved for the children by parents and guardians.
This was said on Wednesday at Dzundu Primary school in Zalewa village, T/A Saimon, Blantyre when the organization held a sensitization and discussion meeting with the community on the cause of street vending and how the problem can be solved.
One of the facilitators Phoebe Kufeyani said unfair and biased treatment of orphans by guardians in homes force them join the streets. She added in the face of HIV and AIDS, orphan hood was on the increase. She decried the tendency of property grabbing by relations, which makes the deceased children poor.
“Orphans aren’t difficult to raise, they just need love. We as guardians and parents should borrow a leaf from families whose children are succeeding,” she said.
The communities discussed that some of the problems the children meet when they go to streets included being shouted at, having nowhere to sleep, the risk of girls being raped and the children learning bad behaviours.
It was resolved that parents/guardians should teach the children good behaviour, spiritual upbringing and send the children to school, which was a right to them.
The organization’s Programme manager ken Mkwinda appealed to the community to give the children a chance and not raise them harshly. He said they should be given a chance to education because they are future leaders. He also urged chiefs and religious leaders to work jointly in curbing the vice.