By Isaac Salima:
Until Thursday last week, Lilongwe-based businessman David Kansenza was a proud owner of a classy Ford Ranger.
The car had been instrumental in affairs of his furniture business in the capital. Then he posted on his Facebook page that he was giving it up due to an emergency.
He pegged it at K10 million despite that it would have fetched more than double that amount.
Those who saw pictures of the vehicle could not believe the post and joked over it. But, hours later, Kansenza was back to his page to inform friends that the car had been bought.
His Facebook contacts were eagerly waiting to hear what emergency had forced the businessman to give away his car at such a price when he stunned them with his response.
“After spending sleepless nights with the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases, I had no choice but to make this sacrifice of moving from my comfort zone to save lives.
“I am here to honour Onjezani Kenani’s initiative of curbing the spread of the virus and equipping our health facilities by donating K10 million towards it,” Kansenza wrote.
He has offered the money to a citizen-led initiative that is receiving cash and kind donations towards the fight against the pandemic in Malawi. He has lost friends and loved ones to the virus and reckons that material possessions do not matter in life.
“We are in a crisis and I would not wait to dispose the car at its actual price because it would have taken some months to be sold. I have lost friends, customers and relatives and I have come to realise that luxuries do not matter in this life.
“Before this pandemic, people used to go out and have fun but now they cannot do that. So if you reflect on that, you will realise that you can get everything but the most important thing is life,” Kansenza, Managing Director of Davina Furniture, said.
The former Lilongwe Technical College lecturer is not in the league of rich people with huge fleets of cars. Having given up his Ford Ranger, he says he will be using his wife’s vehicle if he wants to drive somewhere.
“In life you can always buy these things. But when life is gone it can never be restored,” he sums up.
In Blantyre Della Kulemeka and her family, moved by the plight of healthcare workers at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH), mobilised funds and have been providing lunch and supper packages to the referral facility from Thursday last week.
Through the initiative Kulemeka is currently reaching out to almost 140 frontline healthcare workers at the hospital.
“One day my husband and I went to QECH and appreciated the efforts that healthcare workers are putting in the fight against the disease. We stayed at the hospital for almost eight hours and we had a chance to ask one of the healthcare workers about what they eat during lunch time.
“He said, most of the time, they do not have time to eat. His response prompted us to do something and we agreed to buy them lunch. We then posted on our Facebook page to involve other people. We are happy that they responded promptly,” Kulemeka says.
He plan is to sustain the initiative, funds permitting.
“At K1,000 per pack, we are spending around K400,000 per day to provide the doctors with food. If more well-wishers join our cause, we can reach out to other hospitals in the country,” Kulemeka says.
She believes the pandemic, which has been affecting people in the country for close to a year now.
Even President Lazarus Chakwera has asked for assistance after declaring a State of National Disaster.
“The battle against this pandemic requires collective efforts. If we are to win this battle, all stakeholders have to take part. I therefore applaud the efforts of private citizens who are already running capital campaigns to raise money to go towards the needs in hospitals.
“I would like to call on private sector companies to follow this example and practise their corporate social responsibility in this critical hour,” Chakwera said in his address to the nation some days ago.
The response, through Onjezani’s fundraising initiative, which has already mobilised over K70 million, speaks volumes of how a crisis can invoke people’s benevolence.
Such efforts by some individuals sends across the message that hope springs eternal and that, even in the midst of terrible crises, humans cannot stop being humane.
And, as Malawi grapples with the scourge, every kind of assistance that flows into the fight is a symbol of a people united against a common enemy.