The mood is mournful at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital’s (QECH) children’s cancer ward. Gospel musician Patience Namadingo and his manager Tonderai Jai Banda are interacting with guardians and patients.
Deafening cries of children and sorrowful faces of guardians echo the pain children are going through.
But armed with a guitar, Namadingo is visiting the ward to cheer the young patients.
Amid the cries, he perfoms Macheza and Msati Mseke.
As he plucks his guitar to start singing his new release Tandigwireni, some patients start to wake up from their sickbed to attentively watch the perfomance.
“Tandigwireni ngati kamwana mukukaphunzitsa kuyenda/Tandigwireni ngati nkhalamba mphamvu zandithela/Tandigwireni ngati wa khungu mukumuolotsa nseu/Tandigwileni ngati ntchitooo 1 to 31/Nsandipatse tchuthi ayi (Yeeesu wanga)/ Mundigwire ndinu iii winaso ayi/,” Namadingo sings.
As he completes the first verse, the sad atmosphere engulfing the children’s cancer ward evaporates.
The power of music engulfs the room. In fact, some patients are smiling as guardians are drawn to the beat.
“Tandigwireni, tandigwireni, tandigwireniii ine/ Mundigwire ndinu Yesu ine winaso ayi/,” Namadingo goes on.
Namadingo says the reaction of young patients to the music fascinated him.
“I think I managed to soothe their burdened hearts, but what about so many things they lack such as beddings, food and groceries? Can’t I do something about it?” he says.
The 40-Day initiative
For him, the day was turning point. He decided to embark on mobile concerts to raise funds for the ward. Namadingo set out to raise K1.2 million in 40 days.
“It was right inside QECH children’s cancer ward that I thought about doing something about their plight. I felt music alone was not enough to lessen their suffering. In fact, I saw that these children have a lot of needs,” says Namadingo.
A guardian in the ward Priscilla Makamu from Thyolo, says children in the ward lack basic needs because most of the children come from poor families.
“Some guardians like me, simply come to the hospital without a soap and money because of the critical situation of our children,” she says.
She adds that donations will help the ailing children but also some guardians who have no time to engage in any financial activity to raise money for up-keep.
Namadingo concurs with Makamu. He says as citizens, Malawians have the ability to help those suffering and in need.
“Giving doesn’t mean you have plenty of resources. It only takes a spirit of patriotism and humaness to give. As a musician, this also serves as a social responsibility because I am giving back to the society,” he says.
Raising the bar
The musician has since raised the target of his 40-Day initiative to K10 million.
Launched on March 1 the K1.2 million in 40-Days Initiative managed to raise the amount in four days.
After four days, he decided to raise the bar and put the target at K5 million.
But lady luck smiled on him as he managed to hit the target in less than eight days.
By day 22, he had raised K10 million, he says.
“I think the success of the initiative means it has to be open-ended because I am overwhelmed with the support Malawians have given me.
“I believe that Malawi has solutions to her own problems. If we can join hands we can make a huge difference,” the soft-spoken singer says.
Namadingo’s initiative has received overwhelming support from various organisations and individuals in the country.
Nandi Bwanali, a documentation and knowledge management officer at One Community—one of the firms that have donated to the artist—says Malawi needs partnership to make it a better place for everyone.
“Together as one community we can make a difference with the little we have. This is the reason we have donated to Namadingo’s initiative today,” said Bwanali, whose organisation pumped in K334 000 to the campaign.
Apart from cash donations from the corporate world, Namadingo does not sit on his laurels waiting for a miracle to happen.
The artist and his photographer visit workplaces to perform to raise the money.
One place he has set his eyes on, is State House.
“All the institutions that are donating to this cause have representatives who are putting their signatures on my acoustic guitar.
“However, I have spared the front panel of my guitar for President Peter Mutharika,” he explained. n