In September 2014, His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah was awarded the status of Global Humanitarian Leader by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the U.S. The Amir’s repeated acts of generosity teach an important lesson about how giving to the less fortunate can be beneficial for all those involved, no matter their life experience or how much they are able to give.
Year 6 Kuwait English School (KES) students have been supporting a non-profit organization in Lilongwe, Malawi for almost a year. The Chingalire Rural Growth Center (CRGC) was officially opened in 2010 and is headed by much-loved Ben Mankhamba, nationally-renowned actor and musician. Chief of Chingalire village, Mankhamba’s mission is to avail a platform for young people to build confidence and enjoy their childhood through community engagement, exposure to the arts and provision of educational facilities.
As a musician, Mankhamba infuses his songs with references to life in Malawi and how the standard of living can be improved for the youth. He strongly believes that by creating opportunities, a legacy of educated and empowered individuals will result. Help the Children of Today is one such song – with lyrics below – that explains the needs of a child and how simple they are to meet. Most importantly, Mankhamba asks people to develop a caring mind-set and understand that while some people’s lives are “sweet”, there are people facing all sorts of challenges in the world.
Why do you say that life is so sweet,
When many children are suffering?
Why do you say that kids are beautiful?
When 24/7 they’re suffering?
Maybe you don’t know the other side of life,
You have to go out there and see it for yourself.
What it means to be an orphan,
It’s not just what you watch on your TV sets,
It’s not just what you hear from your radios,
It’s not just what you read on the internet,
There is more truth behind.
Help the children of today,
For a brighter tomorrow,
For a brighter future,
Give the children what they need.
They’ve got no mama,
They’ve got no papa,
No one to give them love,
No food and clothes,
No place to sleep,
No one to give them home.
Give them joy,
Give them love,
Give them hope.
He also reminds listeners that media coverage of African people’s lives does not always reveal the full truth about their situation. “People out there should know that there is both sad and happy life amongst children,” states Mankhamba. Often, the prospect of hope is overlooked and this prevents investors from supporting worthy charities and organizations. Essentially, this vicious cycle results in a loss of confidence on the part of everyone involved.
On Thursday 11 December 2014, close to 180 KES students took part in a fun run around Salwa Park. Some students ran over 11km and a total of KD 2000 was raised, which – added to the KD 990 contributed during the past year – will be used to fund the construction of two new toilets for the children, as well as schooling necessities such as chalk boards, exercise books, pens and pencils. To encourage team-building as well as indoor and outdoor leisure activities, some of the money has also been invested in sports equipment and chessboards. The CRGC also has plans to install solar power to introduce Internet and encourage a sustainability mindset. In order to meet the students’ specific needs, the decision about where the money would be invested was discussed by Mankhamba with the Chingalire youth. In this way, KES students are able to enjoy raising money whilst respecting the independence and self-governance necessary for the appropriate use of funds. Mankhamba said, “Chingalire Rural Growth Center is doing much better than some big well-established and funded organizations because it is directly operating within its own community.”
Although the impact of this fundraising event on the CRGC is enormous, the privileged students on the giving end can learn the importance of sharing resources and the organic nature of horizontal or ‘person-to-person’ fundraising. Although the students have participated in two annual charity runs for the CRGC, they hope to raise money through a musical medium next year.
Some students have suggested a drumming fundraiser in years to come, reinforcing the parallels between KES students and their young Chingalire counterparts. Perhaps this could highlight their mutual ambitions of a decent education and the chance of a successful and happy future.