Macheso's difficult upbringing inspires him

HARARE - Sungura musician Alick Macheso said his early upbringing was very difficult, hence is pained when he meets under privileged people.

“I still have bad memories of the difficult life that I lived as a child and hate seeing other children in marginalised communities going through my the same misery.

“I have witnessed with sadness families that go for days without a proper meal, intelligent and gifted children that fail to attend school because they cannot afford fees while others succumb to disease as they cannot afford hospital or clinic fees,” said Macheso.

The sungura star said when he became older and was able to fend for himself he vowed to strive to help fight poverty.

“The misery that I encountered, socially and financially when I grew up is not something that should happen to our children today. We have to learn to fight poverty and it is a mission I embarked on as soon as I was financially sound.”

The effects of Macheso’s difficult early life have turned him into a humanitarian fighter and ambassador. Over the years his social work has evolved as he embarked on humanitarian assignments that have transformed the lives of many disadvantaged communities.

As the Zimbabwe Red Cross Ambassador, Macheso has travelled the length and breadth of the country, penetrating into marginalised rural communities where he has been able to identify needy and desperate people.

The music star believes Zimbabweans should view themselves as the new donors so that they do not rely entirely on foreign donor assistance.

With the assistance of Red Cross Society that has offered Macheso an office at their headquarters; the singer has sourced blankets, food, medicines and wheel chairs which he has donated throughout the country.

The singer said he is not shy at all to ask for donations from well-wishers. “I am not shy to beg on behalf of the less privileged and people have been responding positively to such requests.

“During my concerts everywhere I go, I ask my fans for pledges and they usually heed my appeals. I also have a song which I sing during concerts called Rubatsiro.”

In February 2013, Macheso became the first musician or celebrity to visit thousands of flood victims in Masvingo who are now camped at Chingwizi transit camp.

“When I first visited the flood victims in Masvingo I was so touched by their plight as wholesome families had lost everything they called their own. Children’s books and clothes were washed away while their schools were destroyed by the marauding floods. It was quite a challenge but with the help of Red Cross Society we managed to play our part.”

Macheso said his just being at the floods scene brought about hope and smiles to the affected families. “At times it is not about money but just the morale aspect of it all — kuchemadzana. The affected families for once forgot about their sorrows as I met them and talked to them.”

During the evenings, the Red Cross Society screened a number of health related documentaries for the affected communities and Macheso was at hand to give his advice on safe sex and sexually transmitted diseases.

“The evenings I spent there were so revealing as we talked to communities and strengthened their resolve to confront the situation they had suddenly found themselves in,” he added.

The sungura star said when he visited the flood victims he and the Red Cross Society facilitated the building of blair toilets and borehole drilling. “That was our immediate task and we achieved it in record time. I am happy that after my visit there several other musicians have also visited the flood victims and in their own way brought donations ranging from food to clothes.”

He urged those with extra clothes to donate. “I urge Zimbabweans not to throw away old clothes or shoes because those items are viewed and received by others as new. Imagine if individuals can drop a shirt, shoe or dress they no longer want — how many clothes we would collect? Zimbabweans should learn to give.”

Of Macheso’s work, the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society secretary-general Maxwell Phiri said the musician had surpassed their expectations.

“Macheso was chosen partly because of his iconic status in the local music industry but largely because of his humanitarian acumen. We realised he was helping a lot of people even before we gave him this honor. It is however encouraging to note that since his appointment as our Humanitarian Ambassador, Alick has shown great commitment to this humanitarian cause.

“Regardless of his busy schedule, he still sets aside time to carry out his ambassadorial duties. As we speak, a number of initiatives are in the pipeline and we are hoping these will go a long way in alleviating human suffering in Zimbabwe.”

Phiri also called on all Zimbabweans to continue working with the humanitarian organisation in its nationwide programmes.

“The clamour for humanitarian support continues to grow by the day and it is our hope that we will continue having as many people supporting Red Cross Society work like Alick is doing.

“Humanitarian work is not about having so much but having the heart to assist. Whatever small contributions you make will go a long way in assisting the vulnerable groups and with a collective approach we will certainly make a positive difference in our communities.”

Macheso is so passionate about Chitungwiza Central Hospital. “While I may sound like I am bragging about my contribution to Chitungwiza hospital, I am proud of what I have achieved through fund-raising concerts that I have coordinated. Today the hospital has new floors, broken beds have been repaired and the water system has improved.”

Macheso said when he thought about fund raising music concerts for the hospital, few musicians bought his idea.

“They could not come to perform for free but we went ahead and held the debut concert with those who had given it upon themselves to help. It was a resounding success and the second year the fund raising concert was over-subscribed by musicians who wanted to offer their services for free. But it took our courage and belief, and a burning desire to help.”

Today, thanks to Macheso, most musicians staying in Chitungwiza get treatment for free courtesy of the fund raising gesture.

The musician’s aim is to fund raise for other Red Cross Society programmes and isolated humanitarian emergencies that may not necessarily be covered by donor funds.

“As you may be aware, donor funds are targeted and may not meet the needs of all humanitarian cases in Zimbabwe.

Sometimes we have individuals coming to us with their challenges and it is for this reason that we must have a locally mobilised fund to cater for such challenges.”

In Chitungwiza, Macheso has managed to solicit building materials and paint for three houses that were destroyed during the infamous Chitungwiza blast.

“In conjunction with Zimbabwe Red Cross Society and other partners like the Chitungwiza District Administrator’s office, Chitungwiza Town Council, Chitungwiza Rotary Club, Snow White, Zimcafe Hotel and Conferences, and Cellone among others we have completed building three houses for victims of the mysterious blast that destroyed those homes. Nash Paints have donated the paints and this is all for a good cause.”

Macheso has been to Ngomahuru, an institute for the mentally-challenged. Ultimately he has been on an offensive looking for blankets and soap from various stakeholders. “I have been to this institute and was touched by conditions there which sprang me to look for donations. I am happy to be playing my part.”

The musician said no donation is small for his humanitarian cause. “Five rand is enough for a donation and if a thousand people each donate that amount then we have a lot of money to give the less privileged. Even if you bring a shovel of sand, to me that is a lot because these small portions will eventually add up and help the homeless build.”

Apart from donating various goodies to the old, a new area he has embarked working on is sourcing skin lotions for the albino community.

“We have already sourced quantities of skin lotions for albinos who approached us.

“This is a special community with unique needs, hence have approached various companies that deal with lotions that have agreed to offer help.”

A case in point is when he sponsored a blind person at Kushinga Phikelele. “I helped him through his secondary school and now he is happily married and gainfully employed.

“I also remember when a man approached me and reminded me that years back I sponsored his education and that he was now employed. I was surprised because I had forgotten about it, but managed to retrace him.

    Comments (9)

    May God continue to richly bless you babaSharo

    Muchie Babella - 20 July 2014

    you are one in a million chesopower. Keep it up

    t-bone - 21 July 2014

    pliz continue with the good work extrabrasso, may the Lord continue to pour Blessings unto the works of your hands

    DARLINGTON - 21 July 2014

    This is great work. I really appreciate your good effort. May our lord God give you more.

    Taps - 21 July 2014

    If all of us would be able to follow suite, it would be appreciated.Keep it up man, thats wonderful work. God bless you.

    mhofu - 23 July 2014

    keep up the good work baba Sharon,may the Almighty God continue to bless you.

    BMANN - 24 July 2014

    Good article Max. Indeed Macheso is a force to recon with

    chiheraspecial - 25 July 2014

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