Malawi: Ben Phiri Scouts Fire Engines, Philanthropists in UK Tour

24 January 2020

Local Government and Rural Development Minister Ben Phiri took his charm to Leicester City in England and managed to get a commitment from a major Malawian-born philanthropist Farouk AlMahomed and Leicester City to provide Malawi with fire engines, ambulances and engage in rural empowerment programmes.

Minister Ben Phiri during a meeting with Farouk Alimahomed in Leicester, UK Minister Phiri with Salim Alimahomed and Salim Logart of Islamic Relief UK Minister Phiri with City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby, Deputy Lord Mayor Deepak Bajaj and PS Charles Kalemba

Minister Phir, who is in the UK with President Peter Mutharika, has engaged various city councils and firms to source fire engines and support to local councils in Malawi.

And in Leicester Deputy Lord Mayor Deepak Bajaj, who was joined by Malawian born Councillor Hanif Aqbany, both pledged that they would work to have the City twin with a Malawian city and source fire engines as a matter of urgency.

"Leicester is full of Malawians who cherish their heritage. We are glad Honourable Minister that you took time to come and see us and start this conversation. We are ready to support you and we will do our utmost best to roll this special relationship," said Bajaj.

Phiri said he was committed to developing strong links with a city full of Malawians and hoped that the partnership could benefit the people of Leicester and the yet to be confirmed city in Malawi.

"We would love you to come to Malawi and launch this new partnership. Councillor Aqbany grew up in Nkhotakota, we will make sure this relationship benefits his childhood area. The fire engines we need them in every district, the people to people engagements can also extend to such areas," said the Minister.

The Minister, who travelled by train with his Principal Secretary Charles Kalemba for the two hour long journey, first stop saw him engage the Chairman of Lesta Packadging Plc and Fara Properties Alimahomed and owner of Chaiiwala chain Salim Ali Mahomed where they expressed their desire to support Government rural empowerment programmes.

"His Excellency the President sent me here to assure you that we will work with you in your charity programmes in Malawi. But we want you to focus on empowerment of the communities, from skills, low scale irrigation to livestock management, all that would make a difference especially to child and women headed homes," the Minister told the philanthropist.

AlMahomed whose family runs free schools, clinics and supports families in Mangochi, Zomba and Chintheche, Nkhatabay, said he was excited to see Government appreciating their work and pledged that they would work together with the Districts and City Councils to help Malawians.

"I am glad Government is here recognising our work. We are ready to support our homeland. Tell us what we need, we will do it. We will look for fire engines and supply. We have mobile clinics somewhere; we will send some to Malawi. Everything you have requested, God has blessed us, we will be happy to share it with Malawians," said Salim, who says the family's charity group will be in Malawi later in the year.

The Minister said Government would like to attract Malawians in diaspora to invest and help the country, asking the Alimahomed family to mobilise businesses to invest in agro processing for exports and stock Malawian tea and coffee in their shops.

The families charity so far supports over 5000 children, 100 hectres in subsidy land and produce, 300 000 tree planting programme and frequently donates to the needy across Malawi.

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