After working in the political space for a long time, Lilongwe-based Hellen Chabunya got fed up with discussing what politicians ought to be doing to put Malawi on track.
She was overwhelmed with a sense of duty to Malawi, and her children, to make things better, but emphasises that it is up to everyone to take part.
“It is easy to dish out blame when you are not working towards solutions. We need to have a preferential option to improving the lives of our people; God has favoured Malawi but we have let evil run amok and derail our blessings. This country is built for greatness. So, I decided I wanted to do my part,” she explains.
As an aspiring councillor for Chigoneka Ward in Lilongwe, her dream is to use her social capital in the international space and her training, to create a model developmental ward at Chigoneka.
“If we really want to rescue Malawi, it is not up to donors or development partners; the responsibility for a better Malawi falls squarely on the shoulders of Malawians. I want, in my own way, to demonstrate that with the right priorities and a community spirit anchored in patriotism and a desire to leave the world better than I found it, we can make gainful development, not just for that ward, but for the country,” she says.
Chabunya also wants to inspire and remind young people that it was the youth who instigated the country’s emancipation from colonialism.
“We hold the key to our development. I just want to do the best I can and leave the door wide open so that others can walk through and take us further than I can ever imagine,” she adds.
Chabunya was recently appointed director of recruitment for Malawi Congress Party (MCP). She confesses that she is humbled to become the youngest director, and a woman, in Malawi’s oldest political party.
“It gave me renewed faith in God and His plans for my future. I am not an isolationist, so I have friends from all political parties; I guess this is why the MCP president, Lazarus Chakwera found me suiting to be his main recruiter in the party.
“At the end of the day, as MCP, we need to widen our support base and appeal to people in other parties, and the undecided, so that we win the 2019[Tripartite Elections]. As Malawians, irrespective of political party affiliation, tribe and gender, we need to be united in our opposition to the raping, plundering and destruction of our country, and our future, which is currently happening,” she says.
Before joining maninstream politics in MCP, Chabunya was head of political and public affairs for the British High Commission.
She has previously worked for the Malawi Government in the Local Development Fund as a development communications specialist, and also Auction Holdings Commodity Exchange and Millenium Challenge Account Malawi.
The ambitious young woman is married to Harris Chabunya and together they have a son Hadriel, and a daughter, Hannah.
She lost her mother, Jane Zalira when she was five; and her father, the late John Zalira was an enterprising man who ran various businesses, but was mainly a farmer. Somehow she has inherited his passion for farming.
Squarely focused on effecting positive change for Malawi, Chabunya advises that everyone can do something to bring positive change to Malawi.
“If you are of voting age, then you have to vote because not voting is also a vote. Also, you do not have to be a politician to effect change. In your space, where ever you are, speak change, lead change and plant seeds of hope.
“We all have to take part, and it begins by speaking out about the Malawi we want. This cannot be left to chance and to a few politicians because it is all of us Malawians who feel the pain of our failed country. Let us rescue Malawi,” she concludes.