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Your spot in the queue

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I hope everyone has made it safely into 2020 and that the New Year has gotten off to a positive start. It poured heavily in Lilongwe on New Year’s Eve, literally dampening a lot of outdoor festivities in the city such as the street bash organised by the Lilongwe City Council. But revellers in Zomba could not be deterred. Though it also rained lions and elephants there, the partying continued at Gymnkana Club into the New Year.

It is pleasing to note that during the festive season, a good number of people looked beyond their own enjoyment and remembered the less privileged. I salute the initiative by TK’s Meat Market in Lilongwe to mobilise resources and organise a meal for children at Tikondane Orphanage in Lilongwe.

Like most impactful charity undertakings, this love initiative did not need a bulging wallet, just a heart to help and a bit of creativity. The proprietor of TK’s Meat Market Thoko Kalua launched a campaign on his twitter page asking well-wishers to simply donate part of the meat they purchased from his shop. He calculated that half a kilogram of meat that costs K1, 500 provides a meal for four kids. Simple.

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The response was encouraging and it was beyond meat (pun intended) as people also donated non-meat food products, clothes, and school supplies.

Another gesture worth noting is the one taken last week by the Malawi Blood Transfusion Services (MBTS) who took time to recognise a committed blood donor from Lilongwe City. Chipiliro Chautsi, a 40-year-old woman from Area 25, donated blood not three or five times but 21 times in 2019 alone. If you are looking for a change maker you need not look any further.

While on the subject of acknowledging change-makers amongst us, I have noticed that we are a society that does not pride itself in celebrating those in our midst who make a difference. Take for example, how many times have you seen men and women in uniform standing in a queue in a banking hall without any civilian yielding their place in front to allow the service members to go first?

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I do not know about other African countries, but in the West, military members and police officers do not stand in queues, not because they use their uniform to gain an advantage but because ordinary citizens, to show appreciation for the servicemen and women, let them get served first. Even on flights, military officers are allowed to get off first.

This “special treatment” is not only accorded to military and police officers but also to pregnant women, the elderly, women or men with babies or young children and those with disabilities. I have not understood why we cannot do it here. I honestly do not believe that we are incapable of showing appreciation for our brothers and sisters in uniform for their service and those among us who are vulnerable.

I know as individuals because most of us are not such oriented, it might be hard to practice this, so I would like to propose that in places where we normally line up to get services such as in banks, when the tellers or any official spots a person in uniform or any in the vulnerable groups I mentioned, they should automatically ask them to go in front and be served first.

Of course, there will be a few noises at the beginning, remember this is Malawi, but with time the practice will take root and people will no longer need prompting to yield their spot in a queue. I am sure not only will we find this practice satisfying but we will also see that it feels good to show heart once in a while.

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