Zion Kennedy Phillips Chirwa, 33, lives in Mzuzu in Northern Malawi. He is a community activist and an accomplished, but sadly not commercially successful artist (yet). Completely self taught, he won an all Africa art competition, won the equivalent of £16k, but went home to Nkhata Bay and bought an unused lodge to turn it into a Community Centre and founded HOPEmalawi NGO to support sustainable community led projects.
My connection with Kennedy is through my partner Sammy, who first met Kennedy when he was 9 yrs old in 1996. While cycling through Africa, he stayed at The Heart Motel and Vacation Village owned by Kennedy's father. Kennedy would make Sammy banana pancakes and paint postcards for tourists to save money for his and one of his brother's school fees.
After two blissful weeks, Sammy carried on his journey south, but only 3 km out of town he was attacked by 3 men with pangas and left with only the clothes he was wearing. Long story short, he wasn't badly injured, they were caught, his recovered possessions kept as evidence and Mr Phillips and his family took Sammy back in and cared for him until the court case.
Many years later in May 2012, after a lot of internet searching over the years, we found Kennedy all grown up and living a frugal life focussed on making life better for his community. As we both worked in the third sector in community development and support we raised some funds amongst friends and colleagues and were in Nkhata Bay by October the same year. On our return we co-founded HOPEmalawiUK to raise awareness and support the work of HOPEmalawi. We have also formed a very strong bond his family and others in the area, but particularly with Kennedy.
So there's the background to this story, but this is a very personal plea for your help. Kennedy has had some devastating news and is made worse as if so shortly follows other tragic situations we've faced together this year.
So here it is.... Kennedy needs financial support to pay for potentially life saving surgery and ongoing radiotherapy and chemotherapy. He has just been diagnosed with Stage 2 Lipo Sarcoma on his back, and is awaiting further results relating to whether it has spread to his spine.
He is a father to Zion, his 10 year old son, and adopted father to Adija his 12 year old daughter. He also cares for his Mother Christina who was sadly also recently diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Imagine having to have a conversation with your Mother to decide which of you should have medical treatment? Well that's the conversation Zion and Christina had to have last week.
He took the 6-7 hour journey back to Lilongwe yesterday for the second time inside a week, to get the results from investigations that included a scan, blood tests and biopsy. He just managed to scrape together enough funds for this from selling possessions and with a little help from myself and another close friend in Spain, But this is not sustainable for either him or sadly for us.
He has been diagnosed with a Stage 2 Lipo Sarcoma and told he needs surgery first, followed quickly with a course of radiation and together with medication and 6 weekly check ups, the first bill totals = MK891,000 (Malawi Kwatcha) = £942. Please see the further updates for more recent news on his continued treatment.
I have increased the original target amount from £2000 - £5000 as he needed further spine surgery and should he need more treatment relating to any secondary diagnosis.
This comes at a very difficult time for us both. Kennedy's Mother's diagnosis, was followed shortly by the sudden death of our beloved, for him 'Uncle', for me Sammy. Chris Samuel my life partner and HOPEmalawiUK co-founder, passed away here in Wales suddenly during the early hours of New Year's Day.
So, please help by giving whatever you're able to, we will be forever grateful. Kennedy has said he'd like to send handmade postcards and small paintings as a thank you. Believe me, they will be something to treasure, like he is.
Thank you so much
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