By Chisomo Phiri
In most circumstances, when we hear street kids, we usually think they are dirty, they eat bad food, they wear torn clothes, and are usually smelly. We do not believe these people can be better in future. We do not believe they can be leaders in years to come.
We call them ‘ana masikini’ . We never want to associate with them in any way. When important people come to the country, we carry them like bags of potatoes and hide them because they bring shame.Life in the streets is really tricky and it iss about survival of the fittest where the weak die of cold, violence, diseases and hunger. But how shameful of us to treat street connected children without dignity and respect?. In this article, our reporter Chisomo Phiri caught up with Michael C Walker ( a former street kid) now philanthropist,computer scientist, marketing consultant, career development coach and a scholarship coach who help people win scholarships outside Malawi.
Q1. First of all introduce yourself?
A: I am Michael C Walker. Was born Michael Chauya. Professionally, I a philanthropist, author of several books, a computer scientist, a business development and marketing consultant, acareer development coach and a scholarship coach who help people win scholarships outside Malawi.
Q2. What circumstances led you to become a street child? And at what age?
A:I have never seen my both parents in my life. I was told my Father was the first to die, and my mother with all my 4 sisters and a brother took us into streets of Lilongwe where we became street kids by default, we were from a poor family which lacked food,shelter and security that is why we went to the streets. I do not know when I was born so I am not sure when I was born but I am a 5th born.
Q2. What happened to your parents?
A:They both died.
Q3. For how long were you in the streets?
A: I am not sure, but I was in streets since birth up to 2005. I was there for quite a long time that I thought that is normal life.
Q4. How did you survive in such tough environment of being a street kid?
A: Life in the streets is tricky, it is about survival of the fittest. The weak dies of cold, violence, diseases and hunger. The environment was tough because I was sleeping under bridges, markets e.g mchesi and area 24 in Lilongwe. In the streets when you beg and gets food or money gang leaders or those who are powerful take away your food. But I got tired of it I was violent that I rose through the ranks and I became a gang leader with my territory and businesses. I survived on begging, attacking people at same time not trusting anyone.
Q5. When and what made you leave the streets?
A: As long as I enjoyed the street life because I was born there, but I got worried about my future. Because I wished to be rich and be smocking. In 90s and early 2000’s rich people I saw were smockers so I thought that was life. In the streets, I saw that life was not fair, no food, no security, shelter and above all our future was guaranteed death or jail. I was not happy I wanted to change. Lucky enough my sister recognized me and took me home where I started a normal life but I ran away because she treated me badly, kept me 2 years without supper and not sleeping in the house and I went back to the streets but another sister came to my rescue and took me to Salima where my life changed.
Q6. What did you go on to do as an occupation?, Did you go back to school?
A: I did my primary school in 5 years. They made me skip some classes because I was very a genius. I did STD 1 and 2 while staying home and I did STD 3 a single term while staying in streets, after that term I went to STD 6 where I continued scooping first position. In college I did ICT at Soche Technical college, then Bachelor’s of IT at Blantyre International University, then later BBA at Exploits University.
Q7. Where did you learn to become a business development and marketing consultant?
A:My journey to Consultancy started in 2019 when I decided to develop myself into a brand. I combined my IT skills and Business Adminstration to make it a brand to be helping SME’s in business development, business plans, proposals, business models , sales and marketing strategies digitally or on site. I have developed most of my skills through online learning because much of the work I do I did not learn in school.
Q8. Who do you do your consultancy with?
A: As a business of a one man band cannot survive for long, but with the one with business systems and workforce it can. I have a team of 2 people. Anganile Lwesha who handles most of career development programs, and Ghaddson Standy who handles Digital marketing, business plans and proposals.
Q9. Does your Facebook page assist you to get business?
A: My Facebook page Michael W Chauya, is a powerful tool, and a brand as well as a school. I normally post personal finance, business development, sales, marketing and career development lessons for people who love success in these fields. Much of my clients find me through social media, my Facebook page, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Q10. Heard you are also an author, what is the title of the first book you wrote? And When was it written?
A: My first book is Top Money Making Ideas You Can Try Today. It was written in 2022. It is a book with business ideas that can work anywhere despite an economic crisis.
Q11. What inspired you to write the book?
A: Throughout my work as a consultant, many people have been approaching me or just seeing them on social media asking. I have 200,000 what business idea I can do? And I felt pity when covid hit a lot which led to the closure of SME’s. With these happenings, I decided to help by writing a book with business plans and industries that work.
Q12. What is the title of the second and also when was it written?
A: My second book is also a business book, but targeting 6 to 11 years old children. The book is titled “How to earn money as a kid”. It is a version of business ideas that children can do to earn money. My understanding is children must learn we don’t grow money but we make them. It was written in 2022 as well.
Q13. Where are they being sold and at how much?
A : Currently I am selling in ebooks and hard copies. When one wants to buy they get my contacts to get in touch.
Both eBooks are at k2,000 and hard copies at k3,000
Q14. Who published it and how many copies so far sold?
A:Pastor Kayuni at college of medicine published my 2 books.
Q15. Going forward, what are your big plans?
A: My plan is to establish my brand as a top 5 consultation company in Malawi in field of business development and marketing. I would want to help 1000 SME’s in 2023 to establish their brands and scale up their businesses to dominate the market. For my Facebook page I want it to be ranked as the most educative page in business development and marketing. I am also planning to release 4 more books, turn them into digital courses that people can enroll and develop themselves. Of course I already have how to start a business mentorship program.
Q16. Any closing remarks
A:People always tag me or mention me when street kids attack people.Here is my take.
I was once among those who were attacking people in lilongwe in those days from 1994 to 2005. What I know is poverty leads to desperate decisions and choices, if you live with poverty for long it changes your perspective towards good. Currently I am helping 168 street kids but all 168 do not go out of our safe homes, and they are not the ones attacking people. For those who are victims I am really sorry, I feel your pain.
To the government of Tonse and past Regimes, I feel they are failing and missing the solution. They focus on scaring the kids forgetting those kids are capable of anything and they fear nothing because they have nothing to lose.
We have enough security experts in police they can allocate each other in the places where people are attacked. The kids which are attacking they are simply thugs.
Chasing them in the places where they beg during the day, is not a solution as well. They just relocate to another area.
If the government wants to find solid solutions to street connected kids then they must work with NGOs which are specialized on these cases.