In recognition of her work with the Foundation she has received several awards including
- Women4Africa Award 2015
- Mwape Peer Awards 2015
- Voice of Youth Africa Award 2013
- Africa Young Achievers Award, 2013
She has also served as an advisor or youth coordinator with
- The queen’s young leader’s advisory panel
- Commonwealth Africa Student association-Country representative
- A world at School youth Country Co-coordinator
- Zambian Think Tank 2014
She has been a fellow or underwent several young people leadership programs including
- Moremi Fellowship for outstanding emerging African Women Leaders
- SUSI Institutes for women in leadership
- Commonwealth Certificate in Discovering Young leaders program
- Zambia Research Development Certificate in feminist leadership training
My social work dates back to the time I started volunteering for a charity called Judith Chikonde foundation in Mufulira at 15. This experience really inspired me and revealed my passion for working with children so I started the Buumbalambo foundation for children in need at 16. At tertiary education, social work was my natural choice so I enrolled at the University of Zambia. When I initially got to school, I did not do much work with the foundation as I wanted to focus on my studies. One afternoon I saw a group of young girls who were selling vegetables at the University and when I chatted with them, they explained that this was their way of contributing towards their school fees and it stirred something in me to resume work again.
As part of my course requirements,I was sent to rural Kafue where my love for children just came out in full force. Instead of spending the day holed up in rooms writing reports as some of my colleagues did, I preferred and enjoyed spending time with the children and adults in the community. Seeing these children in that environment without basic provisions and some not in school sealed the commitment to resume my foundation work. So, when I got back to school I organised a team of students at the University to collect clothes, books and other ‘basics’ that other students could spare and we would send these to the children in rural areas. With time I also embarked on serious advocacy on Facebook calling for donations leading to more and more people sending stuff they could spare until we would mobilise thousands of clothes, shoes, books and toys for the children.
Encouraged by people’s willingness and generosity, I realized an opportunity to create linkages for access to education and started the MwanaApunzile sponsorship program. The program connects underprivileged children in the rural areas to sponsors from all over the world who provide a monthly donation towards the fees, uniforms, books and upkeep of the children. It has been an amazing initiative to connect these brilliant young boys and girls who may never have otherwise gone to school and to these generous individuals who are giving these children a chance at accessing their dreams and transforming the world in their own ways.
The people in rural Kafue helped my career and charity prosper because they openly embraced me quickly and were happy and willing to help out. With time as the foundation grew and we started getting recognized, the awards and media coverage has really helped raised awareness and attract sponsors and donors for the foundation and make a difference for more and more children.
The reason the children selling vegetables at University struck such a chord with me is because I have been there myself. When we were young, my brother and I had to assist our parents who were just starting out by selling vegetables to contribute towards the fees. So to an extent I love and fight for children in need because I have been there myself.
As more people connected to help and there was more work to be done in terms of collecting, sorting and sending out donations and other duties, I started to struggle to balance school work and foundation work. I am continually grateful for the amazing team of students and young people who joined the efforts and carried other responsibilities for me. I would never have coped without their support. My experience as a church youth leader and town council secretary came in handy as the team also grew.
Given my age and inexperience, I had to invest a lot of time in capacity and skills development. I volunteered in several initiatives and was selected for various other programs where I could network and gain skills but these were also additional responsibilities that took me out of school for varying periods of time. Yet I am grateful that all these organisations gave me valuable experience, knowledge and networks for the Foundation.
The greatest moment to date was meeting Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II last year at the Buckingham Palace as one of the 2014 Queen's Young Leaders program. In that moment I realised that whatever your mind thinks it germinates products.
I am also continually encouraged each time someone reaches out to donate items or sponsor one of the children on Mwana Apunzile sponsorship program. When we started out, people laughed and said it would not work but I went ahead and three months down the line we already have 432 children on sponsorship. Each time someone spares something of theirs to provide an opportunity for the children, I am motivated and fulfilled. The joy on the little ones’ faces when they receive these donations, particularly, schools fees, books and uniforms – it is a priceless feeling.
What were some of the lowest points in the journey so far and how did you get through it?
When I started out I thought corporate sponsorship and partnerships were the best way to go but after several doors closed in my face as companies did not believe in the idea I had to rethink that. I used to walk in the scorching heat to media houses to seek coverage for the events and only a few media houses were supportive right from the start. I was really disappointed but that made me think of other strategies, which is how the foundation thrives on individual donations and sponsors.
What are your values and priorities? What has kept you grounded during the highs and the lows?
My three powerful values are humility, integrity and gratitude. The ability to be humble and embrace advice and wisdom from every individual has been cardinal for me.
My priorities are my education, my family and my charity.
How do you manage a 24hours day to make all this fit in? Any special routines, habits or work practices?
I spend the little free time I get sleeping and reflecting. I cut down on fun and unnecessary things that distract me from getting assignments done.
I also have an alarm on my phone that reminds me of tasks, not forgetting my dream board that is stuck on my wall and reminders stuck on the fridge.
My special habit is looking in the mirror and telling myself that, ‘Buumba, you will be great but to get to that level you have to finish the work that awakens me to task.
A struggle for young people is sourcing funds to help them further their dreams. In face of that struggle, some young people get their passion and commitment squeezed until they fail to rise. To succeed and make a difference you do not stop when the door you thought would work shuts in your face, you get over that disappointment and find new ways to make it work.
What is the bigger picture for you? How do you hope your work will impact the people you work with, your country and Africa?
My vision is to see Buumbalambo Foundation for children in need becoming the most effective grassroots local organization working hard to curb child illiteracy in Zambia.
My vision for those am working with is to see them grow both financially and career wise.
For Africa I see a new Africa with empowered girls who have the potential to speak out and women who are ready to help the young girls rise with many children having access to education.
Who have been some of the most influential people in your life?
My parents, my family and my manager Irene Lelieveld have been very supportive.
What do you believe to be the meaning and purpose of life and what is your part in all this?
The purpose of my life is to inspire others to reach the fullest potential. Everything about me is a message - the way I walk, dress, talk and activities I perform in my society or community should inspire others to find their cause and create impact. My greatest role is to give back to the community by connecting people in need to the people who can help to uplift them.
Recommended must reads or listens?
· President Obama’s speeches
· Ted talks
· Leading from the point of influence by Glen Dhliwayo
What would be your parting advice to help other young people who are struggling to get started and established on doing what they want to do also?
‘’Have an instinct for growth’’
Where can your work be found and how can we regularly tap into your wisdom?
We have two websites: www.buumbalambofoundation.org and
Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter , look for : Buumba Malambo