She is a third year college student who is 21. But she already supports two widows and 10 children among others. She has not waited for funding from NGOs or to get rich before taking this initiative. She has empowered one widow from her pocket money and allowance. She shares her story with Albert Sharra.
Give us your back ground.
I am a first born in a family of two. I am a third year student at African Bible College (ABC) pursuing Bachelors of Arts in Communication. Before ABC, I attended Lilongwe Pentecostal Christian School. Then I went to Kamuzu Academy. My mum is a retired primary school teacher. My dad is an engineer and works with National Water Development Project.
How has been your growing up?
I have grown up in Lilongwe. I have a very supportive family that has supported me in many ways. For 12 years, I was the only child. It was a lonely life. But in those lonely times, I would write and read more about Godâ€™s love. Then God blessed me with a brother! My parents are disciplinarians. I owe it to them for shaping me into what I am today. You know being young and thinking that you know it all makes you vulnerable to all sorts of bad influence from peers. But my parents never gave up on me until I got it right.
You are only 21 but are financially supporting two families in area 25 and Ntandire. What is the story?
I have always felt I can do something to ease the burdens of other people through charity, counseling, prayer band, and sharing Godâ€™s words. Last year, through a friend, I met a family. I knew this family not as needy but as spiritual partners. However, I later learnt about their plight. Then the man in that family got seriously ill. This meant the family had no support from anywhere since he was the sole breadwinner. I felt an urge to do something about their situation. Luckily, at that time, I was on internship. So, the little money I was getting helped me buy basic items for this family. I visited them every lunch hour. Unfortunately, the man died early this year.
How did life go on for this family?
I had no clue as to where to start from, as I realised they were my responsibility. It is not easy to care of a woman with eight children. I just believed in God and decided to stop giving her handouts and empowered her. I helped her start up a business which has transformed her in so many ways. She is selling baby nappies and running a small grocery. She is not rich, but she is able to fend for her family and send her kids to school.
How have your parents looked at the issue of using your pocket money to help others?
I am sure they are amazed. My parents donâ€™t have much money to give me but they try. My mother is a very generous woman. Every visitor that comes to our home doesnâ€™t leave empty handed. She has had a big influence on me. My father is my hero. He is very humble and hard-working man. He has taught me to strive for success.
Tell us about the other family?
During one of my salon visits at Ntandire, a hair dresser narrated to me the story of her neighbour who is a widow. She has two grandchildren but has no one to help her. The children dropped out of school because of lack of fees and other basic necessities. Fortunately, some missionaries from Europe built her a house. But they left her soon after constructing the house. She had to rent part of the house to earn something but the money was not much.
I took over from where the missionaries had left. I realised her need was not only financial. She also needed love, care, and a friend to talk to. I made it a point to visit her weekly. I am in the process of empowering her with a business like the other widow. I support her with food and other basic needs. They are not the only families I support, but I am unable to provide enough because of financial constraints.
Donâ€™t you have relations who are equally in need of that type of empowerment? Or is it that you just need some publicity?
I donâ€™t have any close relations that need such type of empowerment. But there are some that need some encouragement which I gladly offer to them. It is not about publicity, but they say charity begins at home and I am helping people in my society.
What have you learnt from your initiative?
I learnt a lot when I first met the first family. I helped them but felt that their pain was deep. I knew there were so many others that are going through the same and God was calling me to do something about it. Not waiting for some international organisations to help or until I become rich, but with whatever little God has entrusted me with, I took the initiative. I better help them now than contribute maize flour on that personâ€™s funeral.
Apart from the pocket money you get from your parents, how else do you source funds?
I make and sell dresses. Furthermore, I appeal or write letters on behalf of beneficiaries to people and companies to support them because most of them cannot write. It is not easy for people to trust me especially with a lot of fraudsters out here. I normally tell them how far or how much I have done, and where I really need others to come in. In other cases, I take the prospective partners and sponsors to the ground so they appreciate the situation for themselves. I engage people in the community, chiefs, and church leaders in appealing to companies. Many companies have trusted me after meeting these community leaders and have helped us.
Are your family members born again Christians too?
Yes both my parents are born again Christians.
What great challenges have you personally met and how have these shaped your life?
I faced rejection throughout my childhood life from different quarters of life apart from my family and a few friends that were there for me. I do not want to talk further about this rejection. It was hard to make friends. It was hard for people to understand me. However, I learnt something during this period. This relates to the pains widows and orphans usually face. I learnt to love and share. I looked at it as a time God was preparing me for my ministry. He wanted me to understand and feel the pain of rejection before I reached out to this group of people. Sometimes you need to experience it in order to appreciate it. Out of my rejection came my direction.
How have the beneficiaries shown their gratitude?
They have rewarded me with hard work. Thatâ€™s all I needed from them.
What are some of the challenges that you are facing in your initiative?
Some people belittle me because of my age. There are so many well wishers who make promises but they donâ€™t live up to them. I am a mere student. I do not have money all the time, yet the needs of the people am helping are many. It is not easy because it takes time for the beneficiaries to understand how they can handle money, utilise the little they have, or invest in a business. Time is also a challenge since I am a daughter and a student.
Many people and organisations that engage in charity projects flop. How different are you?
The needy should not be a means to us but rather they are an end in themselves. Most people go into charity for personal gains. Usually, I link a prospective sponsor directly to beneficiaries so that there is transparency. Therefore, I donâ€™t see this initiative flopping. I intend to get this initiative registered and build a home where these people will be getting their needs.
As a child did you have big dreams?
It was in those times I was alone in my room that I had big dreams that one day I would find myself in a position of encouraging and taking care of others. I now have my personal blog that is based on encouraging others in the Christian faith. The address is http://browncee.wordpress.com. I am planning on setting up a website.
What do you want to do after graduating: work or charity?
I want to work for few years in public relations and switch to full time ministry. I am currently looking for active people with the heart to help to partner with for a big project. I want to set up a widowâ€™s village.
What is your vision of the widowâ€™s village?
I donâ€™t want to keep supporting the same women and kids. I want them to be self-reliant and educate their kids. I want them to pass on the mantle by supporting fellow widows later. It should be a chain. I am already meeting relevant authorities including government so that they can help me build the home. The widows will be empowered in business and education. They will be trained on how to run businesses before being given capital. They will even be a special package to support those who need to go back to school.