Zimbabwean-born Phillip Sibanda, like many of his country men and women, left his birth home in 2002 in pursuit of, as he puts it, greener pastures. He settled in Manchester, in the United Kingom.
A self-described rural boy, he was born and raised in Filabusi, in Matebeleland South, by his grandparents and his mother. “I have never met my father in my life.”
Despite having grown and left to start a new life in Europe, Sibanda said he’s never forgotten his humble beginnings.
“I come from a poor, poor, poor community in Filabusi, and whenever I think of those people, sometimes, I cry PJ.”
Sibanda said he has memories of going to school without shoes or clothes to change often, and felt he could make a difference, from the UK where he lives, to help those left behind.
He decided to start a non-profit organization of his own, called Bopoma Village, which is based in Zaka, Masvingo Province. Sibanda lived in Masvingo and worked at the Toyota plant there.
“I am helping 402 children, orphans, in Masvingo in Zaka. That’s what I do,” explained Sibanda.
The decision to help orphans or those in need, for Sibanda, started with the children of his close friends, about nine or 10 of them, whom he said died while he was away in the UK, from various illnesses.
So imagine me filling every drum of 210 liters with clothes, you know, with clothes. So imagine, I had a 7.5-ton truck full of clothes.”
He said he made a commitment to help the children, and just stuck with it, expanding it along the way.
“Those children, when they saw me coming back, it was like seeing their fathers and whatever, so I promised them that next time when I come, I will bring you some clothes. And that’s what I promised them,” said Sibanda.
He kept his promise.
“When I went back I brought them some drums full of clothes, at Toyata Masvingo, that was the beginning.”
Sibanda sent about 15 drums to Zimbabwe in 2015, full of clothes, shoes and other supplies.
“In September I had 15 drums of clothes,” explained Sibanda. “A drum is about 210 liters, the size of a drum. So imagine me filling every drum of 210 liters with clothes, you know, with clothes. So imagine, I had a 7.5-ton truck full of clothes.”
Sibanda noted that he gives his own family some of the drums he sends to Zimbabwe, but that the bulk goes to the charities he supports.
“The school I donated I think nine drums full of clothes, and then I had to go to Masvingo General Hospital, and then I had to go to Filabusi, I had to go to Bulawayo, I had to you know the local communities where I come from Gwanda … I was going all the way to relatives as well.”
Asked how he sources the clothes and shoes that he has been distributing, Sibanda explained that everything is donated, compliments of well-wishers, initially British. Now he gets donations from other communities as well, including Zimbabweans.
“You can’t believe it, PJ, but I really appreciate, everyone is helping me at the moment in England.”
While giving away clothes and shoes and other items is a big dream come true for Sibanda, who said, he’s happy to help his community and others as he’s doing, his biggest dream yet is to see one of the children he’s helping, make it big, in football.
“If I can get Zimbabweans who are willing, to work with me, we start an academy, an academy for this orphanage, an academy of football for this orphanage, that’s what I want,” Sibanda revealed excitedly.
“I want to see those children, one of them, I promised them that one of you one day will play for a big team like Manchester United, Arsenal.”
Sibanda said until that wish is accomplished, and all the children he helps are happy, “I am not going to stop.”
To see a video of Phillip Sibanda, please open this link: https://youtu.be/f4NftUQ-v_Y