May 1, 2017 by Thumbiko Nyirongo
To many Malawians prison is like hell on earth, but for a former convict Madalitso Chirwa, Ndirande based entrepreneur, prison it is a college for the rehabilitation of offenders in preparation for community life.
Madalitso, who hails from Funnwayo Village in Traditional Authority (TA) Mthwalo in Mzimba district, was born in the early 80s and he is the second born in the family of four boys.
Madalitso, he did his Primary School education at Edingeni Primary School in Mzimba where he was living with his uncle Mr. Mkandawire a Civil Servant working with the Ministry of Education by then.
Soon after writing Standard Eight National examinations, Madalitso lost his ‘’beloved” uncle the future turned dark for him. He went back to live with his ‘poor’ parents in the Village who were unable to pay for his school fees at the secondary level. Then, Madalitso a school drop-out left the Village Mzimba rural for Mzuzu city to look for green pastures.
“Life at the village was hard and harsh, so l decided to go Mzuzu City to search for some peace works so that at least l should found something to eat and to cover my nakedness,” Madalitso told Africa Inspire Foundation.
Searching for peace works in the city of Mzuzu was hard as searching for gold for Madalitso as he stayed in the city close to a month without finding a permanent job.
“I stayed for three to two weeks in the city moving up and down searching for a job, lucky enough l started work as a shop attendant at a certain Tanzanian national,” he said.
Madalitso life turned to worse when he started to associate with what he described as ‘’gangsters’’ (Criminals). He and others started to terrorize the ever-green city of Mzuzu.
“During the day l would be in shop attending to customers but when the dark falls we would go and steal from people’s houses around Mzuzu,” said the reformed Madalitso Chirwa.
In the year 2002, Madalitso left Mzuzu city for Blantyre city with other gang members, they settled in Ndirande Township where they associated with other hard-core criminals. They would go to people’s houses and companies to steal assorted items.
As the saying go, you can run but not hide from the Police, Madalitso and other three gang members were arrested, convicted and sentenced to six years imprisonment with hard labor.
“In March, 2003, we were caught red handed stealing at Ndirande Newlines in Blantyre. The mob took us to Nyambabwe Police and later the police searched our residents where they found various items.
Later, they dragged us to Blantyre Magistrate Court where they convicted us on theft charges and sentenced us to six year imprisonment respectively. This was the worst time in my life,” he said.
After serving two years of his sentence at Chichiri Prison in the Commercial City of Blantyre, Madalitso received Jesus Christ, Oh Yes!!, this was the first sentence of his new story.
“In the year 2005, a certain man of God came to preach at Chichiri Prison, and l was among the few who were convicted by his sermon. I then made a personal choice to receive Jesus as my Lord and savior,” Madalitso said.
In 2006, prison authorities at Chichiri Prison selected the reformed Madalitso Chirwa as one of the few prisoners to start learning carpentry and joinery so that they should be productive citizens when released from the prison cells.
“While in Prison l started learning how to make wood chairs, tables, and other furniture’s. The learning process was not easy but by the grace of God l made it,” he said.
In the year of Our Lord 2007, Madalitso successfully completed serving his sentences at Chichiri Prison. He was freed on 20th March 2007. From Prison he went to seek refuge at friends’ house in Ndirande.
“I was set free from prison on 20th March 2007; l had no idea on where to go then l decided to seek refuge from my friend in Ndirande. My friend was not comfortable with my presence and three months later he drove me out of his house,’’ narrated Madalitso.
He added that,” Later l rented a small house within Ndirande which l was paying Mk2, 500 per month (Two Thousand Five Hundred Kwacha).”
Madalitso started selling groundnuts and sweets at Namalimwe Primary School in the commercial city Of Blantyre to earn a living.
“I managed to source some capital to establish small scale business of selling groundnuts and sweets at Namalimwe Primary School. I used the profits from the business to pay for the rent and buy other house necessities. I did not want to go back to my old life of stealing,
“Later l served enough money from the business and bought some carpentry equipments. Then l open a Carpentry and Joinery shop using the skills l gained from the prison,” said Madalitso.
He further went on to say, “The begging was not easy, to pull customers to my shop was a big hustle but still l pushed on. My dream was to have a big Carpentry and Joinery shop in Blantyre,”
Madalitso strived hard to leave his dream, he was serving the little money he was earning from the business and bought all needed requirements.
“In the year 2013, my business expanded in what l can describe it as a miracle, God blessed me l managed to open a My Dream Carpentry and Joinery shop in Ndirande.
“Now people from all corners around Blantyre come to my shop to purchase assorted furniture’s even some private school hire me to makes some desks and chairs for them,” said Madalitso Chirwa.
Today, Madalitso Chirwa a former convict has managed to create ten jobs for the youth in Ndirande, Blantyre. He is able to support his family and relatives in the Village. Prison life changed him from bad to good and productive citizens.
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