Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
The tough ghetto life taught Zimbabwe international Marshall Munetsi some priceless lessons about love and giving back to the less privileged members of the society.
The France-based midfielder, whose fledgling Marshall Munetsi Foundation has taken on board over 60 children under its wings, has been hailed in Mabvuku for his decision to pay school fees for the kids.
Munetsi has been running the foundation with the assistance of his close friend Munya Wayne Tembo, who has been doing all the work on the ground.
“Growing up in Avondale and Mabvuku helped me realise a lot of things and how hard it is, especially living in the ghetto where there are less privileged people,’’ said Munetsi.
“It’s a challenge for kids to get a better education when they can’t go to school because of (lack of) finances.
“So, the idea has always been there, but I was waiting for the right time to start it.
“I’m glad it has been possible with the help of a friend and a brother Munya Tembo.”
The foundation paid school fees for 30 primary school children in Mabvuku.
Its wings spread further this week by adding 30 more pupils from his former school — Donnybrook Primary School.
“It’s always good to see the kids happy and to see people in my own community happy as they saw me grow to be the person I am today with help from most of them,’’ said Munetsi.
“As a Christian, I was taught in the Bible that the greatest thing we can use as children of God is love and to love one another, to share whatever we have and in love.
“So, my motivation is love, it needs to be shared to everyone regardless of who they are and where they come from.
“I feel the need to empower kids to choose the course of their lives and future from a point of strength, not desperation.
“Education is key to everything we do in life, and when you are educated, there are greater chances you will h a better life and it helps you to make the best decisions in life.
“The foundation is something that is going to grow big by God’s Grace to different aspects and those will be seen in the future once everything is done.’’
Tucked away in the comfort of Reims in France, where he now enjoys the privilege of rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s best footballers like Neymar, Munetsi has always kept touch with events at home.
Especially in the community of Mabvuku.
It was not all rosy growing up there.
There were challenges with sewerage pipe bursts, disease outbreaks and the scourge of drug abuse which has consumed most of his peers and destroyed many promising footballers.
“It was challenging a lot, especially on the health side, when it comes to safe water to drink and the risk posed by the dilapidated sewer systems.
“There were always outbreaks of diseases like typhoid, so it was one of the major problems growing up there.
“But, when it came to education and sports, I think it was best to be there and there were more positives than negatives from my childhood.’’
He remembers those who also didn’t make it.
“I also think the other challenge was drug abuse, I have seen most of the people that I grew up with, and even younger kids, are doing it a lot these days,’’ he said.
“Sadly, it is destroying their lives and their future. I hope, as a community and country, we can help the young kids achieve greater things than turning to drug abuse and getting to resort to crime in order to make quick money for drugs.
“The younger generation can take a good example of how life can be when you give your life to Christ and make better decisions for your future and anything is achievable with discipline.’’