This week is #trusteesweek and we thought it would be a good idea to introduce and celebrate one of our amazing trustees (in fact he is Chair of Trustee’s) Saalim Koomar.
What is your name and involvement with the Mlambe Project?
Saalim Koomar. I’m the current Chair of the charity and have been on the trustee board for just over 3 years now.
How long have you been working with the Mlambe Project?
3 years and counting! Crazy to think what has happened in that time – things have just blown up!
What is your greatest Mlambe achievement so far?
A very difficult question as so much has gone on since I joined but I’ll have to go with something education-related as that is my area…
I still can’t believe we have established this university programme in the village. When I was first researching it in the UK before heading out to Malawi for the first time it seemed like a great idea – but that’s all it was. Spending so many hours working on those old, donated laptops to get them working again, speaking with university representatives, building the computer room and then working with Stef to get the students on board and make it happen has been a long old journey. To now walk around the school and witness access to quality higher education, at such negligible cost, rolled out at a place as rural as Mlambe is really special.
On top of this, the guys are working so hard to succeed in each of their courses in such a challenging environment; I really admire how far they have come and hope they get the grades they all deserve.
Favourite thing about being a part of the project so far?
I’ve got to say the relationship we’ve fostered with the community at Chikolongo, I think it really sets us apart. I would consider a lot of people in the village now a friend and every year when I go back I cannot wait to see everyone and see what has changed. I’d also say that this has allowed us to get a hell of a lot done! The fact we work every step of the way with the local community means we have been able to achieve so much in a relatively short space of time with very limited resources.
If someone is going to visit Malawi, what’s the one thing you’d tell them?
Embrace it. The people are the warmest, most interesting and humble you will ever meet. Chat to people on your minibuses, on the street, wherever – everyone’s got a story to tell. In Chikolongo, the community is so vibrant and tight-knit, something we have lost somewhat in western culture, so make the most of the serenity!
Tell us something that would surprise people to know about you.
My go-to fun fact … when I was a kid I was on the Teletubbies!
What would you say to someone who is considering donating to the charity?
We’re completely volunteer-run in the UK and we’ve all worked so hard to get where we are now. I haven’t seen many other organisations achieve what we’ve done on such meagre means so your donations – money, time etc. – really do go a long way.