A Tribute to Jimmy Masewa Banda
By RIPPLE Africa’s Megan Canning
It has been two weeks, but it’s still hard to believe the loss of Jimmy Masewa Banda, RIPPLE Africa’s beloved Pre-Schools Coordinator, who at just 29 years old drowned in Lake Malawi in a tragic accident where he gave his life to help save others from drowning. RIPPLE Africa has been overwhelmed by the number of emails from people who cared about Jimmy, and we have put together a small tribute to honour his life.
Jimmy was one of the kindest and most genuine people we have ever met, and touched the hearts of hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Jimmy’s positivity and enthusiasm were infectious. In his role as Pre-Schools Coordinator, he taught over 500 children every year to love learning by inspiring them to sing, dance, and discover. A large percentage of them orphans, he helped provide stability, happiness, and structure to vulnerable children’s lives, and was loving and caring of every child he worked with in equal measure. When walking through the village, everywhere Jimmy went young children would call his name and run up to him in adoration. In his role managing 26 pre-school teachers, Jimmy was supportive and considerate of his fellow teachers’ needs, and treated each teacher with the same care he provided to every child. He inspired them to play with the children in a way which was special and unique, and led by example in every lesson. In his role with overseas volunteers, he nurtured them in their own personal development, taking the time and having the patience to teach them about Malawi while also being ever eager to learn a new song or game which might be useful in his own role. He was open, eager, enthusiastic, and overwhelmingly positive. He always looked to the future, he always looked for and assumed the best in people, and he was without a doubt the happiest man I have ever met.
A person’s occupation does not define them. However with Jimmy, who he was at work was who he was at home as well. The same love and enthusiasm with which he approached his job was evident in how he approached his home life, and never was there a more dedicated husband or father to his wife Ellen, or young children Jimmy, Eric, and Jane Donna. Jimmy always spoke affectionately about his family to his fellow staff and overseas volunteers, and adored his wife and children. Jimmy was a man who lived for his family. He was selfless in all his acts, and all of his hard work went to support his family and provide for them to create the future they envisioned together. It was wonderful to bask in the warmth of the obvious love within Jimmy’s family, and spending time with Ellen and his children was always a treat. In addition to supporting his immediate family, Jimmy was also a provider for his mother and extended family, and again made time for every member of his family in equal measure.
Losing Jimmy has been a devastating loss for RIPPLE Africa, and even more of course for his family and local community. At Jimmy’s funeral, an estimated 4000 people were there in attendance: one of the largest funerals ever to take place in the area. Jimmy treated everyone with the same sincerity and generosity, and was a pillar of his community. It is tragic, but not surprising, that his final act in life was to give of himself so generously that he would put the lives of others above his own. This speaks volumes about who Jimmy was as a person. How he should always be remembered should be defined by this inherent selflessness, and not by the tragedy of the loss itself. As a teacher, Jimmy dedicated his life to inspiring the minds and hearts of children. Although not a child, Jimmy has equally inspired my own heart, and the hearts of hundreds more. Jimmy inspired me to think positively, to assume the good in others, to wake up every day in gratitude, and not to be embarrassed to express the happiness and love felt for others. I will always be grateful for knowing Jimmy, who has enriched my life, and I know hundreds of others feel the same.
If you knew and cared about Jimmy, there is a way to honour his life. Firstly, you can make a donation to his family on our special JustGiving page and contribute to a special fund which will pay a monthly amount to his wife Ellen and three young children Jimmy, Eric, and Jane Donna for a number of years. Secondly, you can email us with your own memories, photographs, and messages for his family to be included in a special photo book which we will give to Ellen, his mother, and each of his children. If you loved Jimmy and are able to help, we know it would be the greatest honour to him to ensure that his family is taken care of, and we hope they are comforted by the messages of support. Jimmy was truly a pillar of our hearts, and will never be forgotten.
Please watch this video RIPPLE Africa has created, to remember Jimmy: