* We profoundly thank Standard Bank for being the first to assist us with K1 million when we rolled out our fundraising activities—Makumba family
* It led Sports Council to also come forward with a further K1.6 million as well as our wellwishers abroad
By Duncan Mlanjira
The reconstruction of two houses for young and up-and-coming members of Zomba Athletics Academy, Mphatso Saukile and Owen Saiti, that were destroyed due to effects of Cyclone Freddy in March, have been completed and handed over.
The construction works started in earnest soon after founder of the Academy, Benedicto Makumba — a soldier with the Malawi Defence Force — returned home for a four-week holiday from duty from Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
He has now left for the DRC to complete his duty up to March next year, saying it has been a satisfying holiday he enjoyed with his wife Eneless, his entire family and his Academy’s athletes as well as close friends.
He was rewarded during the holiday when his athlete, Kesten Banyira won the annual Chawe 10km Zomba Mountain Reforestation Race on September 9 with another athlete finishing second.
It all started when Benedicto was in DRC when his wife Eneless announced that they are on a fundraising initiative to reconstruct houses of the families of Saukile and Saiti. Her contribution was to participate in the Standard Bank Be More Race in June and the Malawi National Council of Sports’ Blantyre 42.195km Race in July.
When Standard Bank management learnt of the charity initiative — using the Be More Race towards a noble cause — they surprised Eneless at prize presentation when Chief Executive, Phillip Madinga announced a sponsorship of K1 million as solidarity towards her efforts.
In the same breath, Standard Bank also awarded this journalist with a medal and K250,000 for publicizing Eneless’ fundraising cause as recognition of what was described as social impact story.
Madinga said the story was “so heart-rending and so emotionally provoking”, thus the Bank took special consideration to award it as it was “in the interest of developing athletics through the Standard Bank Be More Race”.
Madinga made a presentation that Maravi Express wrote about; that Mphatso Saukile is a successful paralympic athlete — who participated at the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Youth Games in December 2022 in 400m and 800m Regional 5 Games in Lilongwe where he won two gold medal in 800m and 400m.
He also represented the country in Italy Jesolo Grand Prix in Venice from May 12-15 — where he was second in 1500m and 5th in 400m in Open-aged competition.
Malawi National Council of Sports Board chairperson, Sunduzwayo Madise was present when Madinga made the presentation and was astounded to learn that Saukile was their own national sports asset and he promptly asked his management team to offer support.
The national sports governing body assisted by donating K1 million on the part of Saukile while Madise himself forfeited his K600,000 annual Board honoraria to go towards the same cause.
Before leaving for Lilongwe today enroute to DRC on Wednesday, Makumba said: “We profoundly thank Standard Bank for being the first to assist us with K1 million when we rolled out our fundraising activities.
“Their noble gesture led Sports Council to also come forward with a further K1.6 million as well as our wellwishers abroad. We don’t take this for granted and through you, convey our heartfelt gratitude.
“I leave for duty very satisfied as it was such a wonderful feeling to see the huge relief on the part of both Mphatso’s and Owen’s families. Owen lives with his grandmother and couldn’t afford to replace her house.”
The other wellwishers abroad were coordinated by UK-based Zomba Athletics Academy partner, Margaret McMullan who rolled out a fundraising campaign through justgiving.com.
Makumba insisted that we publish how part of the funds were put to use, saying Sports Council presented the money direct to Mphatso for her family to coordinate construction but he still was asked to help in the design of the house.
For transparency’s sake, Makumba reports that total cost of Saukile’s house up to window level was K656,000 from the Sports Council funds which was being paid for by the family itself as he just helped in supervision.
Materials that were bought were:
* 2,400 Bricks that were needed at K40 each (96,000);
* 3 bags of Cement for phase 1 by Eneless at K16,000 each (K48,000) plus its transport cost of K1000 (49,000);
* Second phase cement by Benedicto was 7 bags at K18,000 each (K126000) plus transport cost at K5,000 (K131,000);
* Sand for Eneless’ first phase was K65,000 for one trip;
* Sand for Benedicto’s phase were three trips at K70,000 each K210,000;
* The builders remuneration was K80,000.
Materials for Owen’s family’s house from Standard Bank funds all supervised by Benedicto were:
* 3,600 bricks at K40 each (K144,000);
* 2 bags of cement at K16,000 each (K32,000);
* 1 trip of sand at K65,000;
* Half payment to builder K103,000;
* Total amount K344,000;
* The door frames, windows and doors for Saukile were met by themselves and Makumba is yet to furnish costs of the same which were supervised by Eneless.
In the past year, Zomba Athletics Academy 10 athletes represented Malawi in international meetings and Makumba also encourages his athletes to concentrate on their academic pursuits.
Through his own resources and contributions from the academy’s development partners, he pays school fees to some deserving but needy learners when for their secondary school needs and on this holiday he paid for 10 of them.
The Academy has 47 athletes in total and he maintains the team through his salary from the MDF and from his business profits as well as occasional assistance from some of his well-wishing friends.
He maintains that to sustain their academic needs is a great challenge — thus he always appealing to wellwishers since the numbers are rising.
Makumba, who is also the national and southern Africa champion in 800m and 1500m, says those wishing to support his efforts of encouraging the athletes to also pursue their academic dreams, can deposit to Zomba Branch of the FDH Bank — Account name: Zomba Athletics Development Center; Account number: 1210000450527.
He disclosed that both he and Eneless are not signatories of the bank account, saying he just supervises on their needs and allows them to make withdraws while demanding for receipts, which he keeps in custody for auditing.