Wednesday 22 May 2024
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Nottingham teenager recognised after dedicating time to help those in need

A teenager who dedicates his time to charity and community work to help others less fortunate than him has been recognised with an award.

Taona Makunganya is well known throughout his community and school for putting people first, and for his fundraising efforts to get vital medical equipment over to his mum’s native country, Malawi.

The 17-year-old is now raising thousands of pounds to buy medical equipment to take to the country in the summer, where he will also volunteer at hospitals to help those most in need.

The selfless teen’s continued fundraising, community work and mentoring mean he was selected as the winner of the Bringing People Together Award.

The award forms part of the Live Our Best Life Awards that were launched by Nottinghamshire Police in 2021 to shine a light on inspirational young people and their achievements throughout the county.

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“My mum is from Malawi and she’s lived her since 2000 but we grew up under different circumstances and harder circumstances than it should have been but we have worked our way up and I now go to Nottingham High school and have recently been appointed as Head Boy,” he said.

Taona added: “Most of my family are still in Malawi so I have always had my eyes on what’s going on as it’s considered one of the poorest countries in the world so they struggle a lot.

“I’m planning this year to go in the summer and have already raised around £3,000 to buy medical equipment and we’re going to take it all to some of the hospitals and distribute it.

“We’re also planning on volunteering there as well for the week so it’s going to be really good and eye-opening for everyone.

“I’ve also organised to take some of the younger students from my school so they can see the difference.

“I think that sometimes people have a habit of complaining about our NHS but actually it’s a really good system and a lot of other countries would really appreciate that kind of benefit.

“You can really see the difference here as you go to A&E and can sit and watch TV for a bit but in Malawi, it’s completely different.

“People that you might see there may not survive and some of them may have to travel alone for hours just to get to the nearest hospital and I think it’s going to be a really important experience for us.

“I’m hoping to study medicine at university as I would love to be a doctor so I could help people and it would be amazing if one day I could go to Malawi and help people as a doctor as they have staff shortages.”

Taona also volunteers in the community helping other people who have moved to the UK and Nottingham to readjust and be a friendly face to those needing a friend.

He said: “In the community we have our group called Nyasa Daughters of Nottingham which is for the local women and children from Malawi that have moved to Nottingham.

“Over lockdown I did some zoom sessions with the kids and we did homework and just chatted.

“We also arrange for Easter and Christmas parcels and activity days throughout the year for all of the children to have a fun time.

“I think I have seen a lot of things in life really and I have seen my mum work for everything and she has sacrificed everything in her life just so I can have the best life.

“It’s that selflessness and sacrifice that’s really pushed me that I have got to do something for others.

“I feel like it’s the one way for me to really give back and people deserve it.

“You can see the young kids in school if I meet a small group of them and even if we’re just chatting to them they feel so much happier to have someone to talk to and look up to.

“If we all just do something kind it reverberates and everyone’s a bit happier for it.”

Taona was nominated by his school due to his positive attitude and outlook on life.

Kevin Fear, Headmaster of Nottingham High School, said: “Taona was nominated for a couple of reasons really but one of those is all the fantastic work he’s doing in both raising funds to go to Malawi but also organising everyone else to go with him, so he’s truly been a fantastic inspiration to people.

“He’s also a really great role model around the school and is always chatting to some of the younger students and keeping them on side with everything at school.

“We are extremely proud of him; he’s doing such a great job and is inspiring others just by his warm personality and his warm smile so he really is a truly great inspiration.”

For Taona’a mum who moved to the UK to study, seeing her son become a role model at such a young age to those around him has made her incredibly proud.

Vera Hau, said: “I’m really proud of all the work Taona does, he’s seen me volunteer for my community so he has grown up with us and seen how we give back to the community.

“I am so grateful that in his adulthood he is giving back to everyone and understanding that it’s important to work and support the people of the community that have supported you.

“I was shocked by the nomination and I’m even more shocked that he’s won it so I’m really proud and I couldn’t ask any more of him.

“He does a lot of things and it’s so nice that he’s been recognised for the work that he does for other people.

“His whole school have been great in getting him to be the man he is turning out to be so this award is not just from me but also from the community that’s been raising him and his school that have shaped him to be the person that he is today.”

Nottinghamshire Police’s youth outreach worker, Romel Davis, who works within the Citizens in Policing Department, launched the awards last year (2021).

He said: “Taona is a role model to not just other students at his school but to all those around him in his community too.

“Hearing about all the hard work he puts into his community work, mentoring younger students and just being there to listen to others shows how caring he really is.

“For a person of his age to have organised a trip to Malawi and to have already raised so much money for medical equipment is amazing and is the perfect example of how much he thinks about others.

“Taona’s effort, dedication and actions mean now that those struggling with moving to England or in desperate need of medical equipment will greatly benefit all because of the hard work he’s putting into supporting those in his community but also in Africa.”

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