When you borrow to fulfil philanthropic calling

Maimba makes an announcement during the sports and arts festival in Harare last year

Maimba makes an announcement during the sports and arts festival in Harare last year

Ruth Butaumocho Gender Profile
One of the most surprising and perhaps confounding facts of charity across the globe is that the people who least afford to give are the ones who donate the greatest percentage of their income.

More often than not, their passion to assist or manage the situation forces them to dig deeper into their pockets.

In extreme cases, some individuals end up straining their meagre resources to fulfil a philanthropic passion.

This is the position that Maimba Mapuranga found himself in 2011 when he had to borrow a loan of $5 000 to sponsor an inaugural sports and arts festival for disadvantaged kids from various children’s homes in Zimbabwe.

“Using sport and the arts to changes the lives of children from disadvantaged communities, is what keeps me going,” revealed Maimba in an interview in Harare.

Maimba is a facilitator, television presenter and a life skills coach.

He is the founder of Kutting Edge Sport (KES), a sports development organisation involved in bringing and fostering sporting activities among young children and youths in children’s homes across the country.

It is directly responsible for organising the annual arts and sport festival called Celebrate the Children Sport and Arts Festival, held in Harare in August every year since 2011.

The objective of the arts and sport festival is to afford children living in such homes an opportunity to partake in different sports and arts activities, while identifying talent.

“Orphans and vulnerable children and those born in difficult circumstances often find themselves living on the streets or homes, making it difficult for them to access social amenities that children of their age enjoy,” said Maimba.

“And more often than not, society does not always afford them such an opportunity. Instead (society) has become so notorious for celebrating these children’s orphan-hood by periodically posing for selfies with them whenever they donate goodies to them.”

Maimba said seldom do society realise street kids were like any other children, with amazing talents and gifts and also yearned to be discovered and celebrated, hence his decision to form the organisation that would look into this neglected constituency.

“I received a revelation from God that I needed to assist vulnerable children from different communities,” he said. “My heart immediately went out to youths living in foster or children’s homes. I felt that was I where I could touch most hearts and lives.”

Buoyed with a passion to assist orphaned children in homes, but with no financial pedal to ride on, in 2011 Maimba approached the corporate world, and friends to assist fund his initiative.

His attempt to sell the idea to friends and the corporate world was met with fierce resistance.

His dream was a hard sell.

Realising that he would not be able to get the financial assistance he needed to host the inaugural festival, Maimba applied for a loan at the bank.

“It was a difficult decision, but I just could not wish away my goal, and worse still fail to honour what I had set out to do,” he said.

With the $5 000 loan, moral support and words of good will from family and friends, Maimba held the inaugural arts and sports festival in August 2011.

“I remember there were times when we didn’t know when our next meal would come from during the festivals, but we would find ourselves preparing food for the kids after receiving last minute donations from family and friends,” he recalled.

Although the inaugural festival had so many challenges, Maimba and his team resolved to continue with the initiative, having witnessed the joyous moments the children shared during the event.

“Some of the children that participated in the festival had never been on a bus, let alone been in Harare,” he said. “It was a whole new experience for a lot of kids and heart rending moments characterised the festival.

“Watching the kids unite at the sports and arts festival was quite an enriching experience and I told myself I would do this again.”

The festival has been running for the past six years, and has spawned sports persons and artists of repute.

Some of the kids have been to Poland where they took part in a soccer world cup for youths in children’s homes.

“We are using sport for change, so these children can be the best they can ever be, while enjoying the same privileges accorded to other youth elsewhere,” said Maimba.

“We are now also equipping them with life skills to prepare them for life after the homes.”

Maimba, who is passionate about the underprivileged, a virtue nurtured through his school days at Haig Primary School, Yamuranai Primary School and Marondera High School, where he held several leadership roles in social clubs and sporting activities, believes God is at the centre of his fervent drive to assist orphans.

“At Kutting Edge Sport, we are passionate about helping and defending orphans and vulnerable children because God speaks passionately about them when he says in Psalms 82 verse 3: ‘Defend the weak and the fatherless: uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed’.”

Although Maimba is not part of the nouveau rich community of this country, living for the poor, a virtue which was birthed by his social interactions and nurtured by his family, is something that he is proud of.

Born in exile in Zambia, the man has lived a worthy life with endurable legacies that cannot be altered in the sands of time.

And he would want to do more.

“We have since started working on a programme to identify talent so that we can place some of these kids in existing clubs,” said Maimba.

“We want to groom the Peter Ndlovu’s and Julia Sakala’s from this neglected constituency.”