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In search of food, a selfless 70-year-old Malawian woman walks 40 kilometers

By Thumbiko Nyirongo

Ida Zembesani walked from Blantyre-Ndirande to Thyolo-Thava

For 70-year-old woman from Machinjiri in Blantyre identified as Ida Zembesani it is not a problem to walk from Blantyre-Ndirande to Thyolo-Thava, which is a distance of about 40 kilometers, to help in sourcing funds to buy food for families affected by rising hunger and malnutrition levels.

But, her tiredness has become a thing of the past thanks to a selfless imitative by Chimbota Community Development Organization in partnership with Daughters and Sons of Ndirande, which was patronized with over 100 people including women and youths.

In an interview on Sunday after reaching Thyolo-Thava, Gogo Zembesani, who was born in March 1952, said she decided to join the fundraising big-walk as one way of assisting people such as the elderly and women who are in need of food in Blantyre and Thyolo Thava.

“I decided to join the walk from Blantyre {Ndirande} to Thyolo Thava to help in raising funds to support people more especially the elderly who are hardly affected by hunger,” said Gogo Zembesani.

She says she joined the walk despite receiving negative comments from people, who believed she cannot cover the distance due to her old age, but she decided to beat the olds.

“People in this area thought I could not manage to cover the distance, but I had the interest of people who are suffering due to hunger at heart,” said Zembesani, after spending three sleepless nights on the road enduring rain drops, hot sun and mosquito bites all for the sake of hunger stricken households.

The story of selfless Gogo Zembesani, who stands as a model to many elderly people, is one of the example on how senior citizens in the country can positively contribute to the social-economic development without looking at their age but their potential.

Member of Parliament for Thyolo Thava, Mary Navicha hailed the woman for taking part in the fundraising exercise despite her old age.

MP Navicha breaks down in tears after meeting Gogo Zembesani

“This woman is a hero, she deserves special recognition at her age she managed to walk on foot from Blantyre to Thyolo for the sake of people affected by hunger,.” said Navicha, who failed to hold her emotions and broke down in tears as she hugged the woman.

Taking turns, Senior Chief Mphuka of Thyolo district said nearly 99 percent of his subject in which majority are elderly, women and child headed households are hardly hit by hunger crisis.

Miss Culture Pageant, Ireen Navicha, who is also the ambassador at Chimbota CDO, emphasized the need for collaborative efforts from various stakeholders if the battle against hunger, which has shocked many households, is to be won.

Ireen Navicha describes hunger situation as worrisome

She described the current hunger situation in the country as a matter of urgency: “People are suffering; many are sleeping on an empty stomach with no hope for tomorrow. Government and all concerned parties should quickly intervene,”

According to Chimbota CDO Co-Director, Kelvin Troughton, the big-walk targeted to raise about K100 million (One Hundred Million kwacha) for the Zanjara Project.

The Zanjara Project, an initiative by Chimbota CDO, targets the elderly, orphans and less privileged affected by hunger in Malawi’s Blantyre and Thyolo districts with which they are engaging business leaders, organizations, and donor NGOs for support.

The organization hopes that the combination of the big walk and these additional efforts will help raise the necessary funds to combat hunger in Malawi.

Troughton: Our three-day walk from Ndirande in Blantyre to Thyolo has yielded 5 million Malawi kwacha out of the 100 million kwacha target

“Our three-day walk from Ndirande in Blantyre to Thyolo has yielded 5 million Malawi kwacha out of the 100 million kwacha target. We are hoping that many will come in to support the move, which would like to see residents of Machinjiri, Ndirande, and Thyolo Thava receiving food to ease the hunger situation,” said Troughton.

The hunger situation in Malawi, among others, has been exacerbated by planting delays in many regions, leading to concerns about the upcoming harvest and next year’s fertilizer prices.

Sources say many people are resorting to wild plants for survival raising concerns about their long-term health and well-being.

However, President Lazarus Chakwera in his State of National Address delivered in parliament days ago said government has already mobilized some food relief items such as bags of flour to distribute to affected households through the ‘Presidential Hunger Initiative’.

“No one will die of hunger,” assured President Chakwera

Chakwera: No one will die of hunger

With so much at stake, the Zanjara Project’s efforts to provide aid to those most in need are more vital than ever before.

The Blantyre-Ndirande to Thyolo-Thava big walk serves as a powerful symbol of unity and determination in the face of adversity.

With the help of business leaders, organizations, and NGOs, the Zanjara Project may be able to make a significant difference in the lives of those affected by hunger in Blantyre and Thyolo districts.

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