By Dr. Pauline Gwatirisa
“I obviously have fond memories of Shingi (founder – CLUBHOUSE) as a small boy growing up in my parents’ care in the high density suburb of Dangamvura. I was working in the capital city, some 260km away, but would go back home (to Dangamvura) almost every weekend. I remember one of my visits quite vividly: after asking the commuter bus driver to drop me off at my destination, I disembarked at a corner street leading to my parents’ residence (for all you need to do is call out your destination and the driver drops you off right then and there). Our house comes into full view after walking halfway down the street: most notably the fowl run, the avocado tree, and a vacant patch of land which for several years my parents had tried to acquire to no avail. The land (or stand), as building space is more commonly known by the locals, was eventually sold to someone else (another story). But for a very long time, it was a vacant sandy patch, which my son and his peers had successfully converted into a soccer field. Every now and again, Shingi would mobilise his peers from the neighbourhood, and play soccer there.
On the day in question, as I walked down the street, I had an encounter of a lifetime! The kids had gathered to play a game of soccer as usual. I couldn’t help noticing one of the team members wearing a T-shirt similar to the one I had got my son from a local store, and I thought well, it’s a small town – people buy from the same shops anyway. Another team member appeared, again with a T-shirt just like one of Shingi’s, and then another, and yet another, and I thought wow, this is very interesting coincidence!! Small town indeed!! Eventually another kid emerged, this time clad in one I had not bought from the local store, but from England on one of my business trips. I remember thinking – not too many people from this neighbourhood have been overseas (true at the time) – there must be something sinister going on around here, and where is Shingi anyway? The young man, then only 9, had seen me from a distance, and cowered behind the fowl run, the consequences of his actions too ghastly to contemplate. In turned out my son had taken out nearly all of his T-shirts from his wardrobe, new and old, local and exotic – he didn’t care, everyone needed a T-shirt – what’s mine is yours too – we are a team come on!!
Little did I know that God was propagating in this young life fundamental values that would give birth to and continue to drive this amazing initiative: sharing, sensitivity and selflessness. May God bless CLUBHOUSE, its members, and its cause.”