Sponsored walks are ordinarily encouraged fundraising endeavours — noble in that people are putting energy to highlight their cause and inviting well-wishers to support their usual community-building efforts.
However, a report in this newspaper yesterday, that a group of 145 orphaned children from rural Magunje, in Hurungwe had set out on a 235km journey to Harare on foot in order to raise school fees and food made very sad reading.
The children, all in primary school, started walking on Monday and had done 135km by Tuesday. They are expected to have reached Harare by tomorrow. Organiser of the walk, Lloyd Mapfumo, said the orphans were hoping the corporate world and individuals would heed the children’s plea for food and school fees and come to their assistance.
The plight of these children from Magunje is not unique to them. There are several hundred such vulnerable children, many of whom have dropped out of school and sometimes eventually end up so destitute they go to live on the streets.
The government’s social welfare programme meant to pay school fees for children from poor backgrounds, the Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam), has apparently run out of money and many children (about 380 000) stand to drop out of school.
What boggles the mind, however, is the apparent lack of concern by the many organisations and individuals that will not spend a cent on such desperate cases, but fall over each other to be seen to be spending the most on ostentatious projects involving sometimes totally undeserving parties.
There are companies that have spent millions in a very short space of time sponsoring football, a game that no doubt has a huge following in this country, but which has also brought the name of this country into disrepute. We are not advocating for withdrawal of money from the world’s most popular game, but social responsibility does not end with football and there is no point for companies to literally fight each other to pour money into football when we have as desperate cases of human need as the Magunje orphans.
There are individuals too that only fall short of demanding a public display of personal wealth to prove how much they are worth. What do such people’s conscience tell them when they are made aware of the desperation of fellow humans that have nowhere to cry because they are orphans?
Every week, NewsDay publishes individual desperate cases of children in need of money to undergo life-saving medical procedures, but some of them may have lost their lives because they could not afford money which some fellow citizens regard as daily pocket money.
We are calling here for human kindness and a spirit of sharing among the citizens of this country. If every company or well-to-do individuals were to assist in as modest a way as they could, we would see cases such as the Magunje orphans or NewsDay Cares’ weekly appeals as an opportunity for this nation to prove its international acclaim of exceptional kindness.