"If you believe in something deeply enough, you can make it happen."
Zarina Malecki, founder.
"As-salam-alaykum, (Peace be upon you)
“Hi, I am Zarina Katelia Malecki, founder of Fatima Centre and I am delighted to share our story with you. Ever since I was a young girl, I have always dreamed about helping children in need. While my husband and I were living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, we used to send money and old clothes to Malawi, which is where I was born and raised. Although I left Malawi when I was 18 years old to pursue my nursing career, I have always remained deeply connected to my roots. Whilst in Jeddah, my friends and I would come up with all sorts of fundraising initiatives to help alleviate the suffering of disadvantaged people around the world. Soon enough the idea of an orphanage was born."
Living in Saudi Arabia at the time, Zarina and her friends had to come up with a lucrative business idea to help bring this idea to fruition. Together Zarina and her friend Ann, came up with an Abaya
line they named ZarAn. 100% of the proceeds generated from this eponymous abaya line would go directly towards funding the orphanage. With abayas being a compulsory garment for all women to wear in Saudi Arabia, ZarAn took off with flying colours, quite literally.
In July 2011, after three years of building, fundraising, and taxing negotiations, Fatima Centre, named after Zarina’s mother, was finally open and running as a fully-fledged orphanage.
The spacious orphanage grounds consist of a vegetable garden, a playground, a library block, a maize mill, a mosque, a boys house, a girls house and five water bore holes on site. An additional five water bore holes were constructed for the neighbouring villagers. Fatima Centre also built a medical clinic opposite the orphanage (with two boreholes). The clinic has now been refurbished, with the help of a generous, private sponsor and is awaiting a maternity unit, an under-five’s clinic, and an OPD.
Currently we are home to 20 children - 6 boys and 14 girls. Our outreach programme provides sustenance to orphaned babies whose extended families are struggling to make ends meet. These provisions ensure the child’s good health and wellbeing.
From Fatima Centre’s inauguration in July 2011 to April 2015, we managed our growing orphanage remotely from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. While being away was not ideal for the children, it greatly benefited the orphanage in terms of financial support and moral support we received from our dear friends.
In April 2015, we retired from Jeddah and moved to Malawi permanently, to live within the orphanage grounds. While we still receive support from Jeddah and the wider world, much of the local community here in Malawi have been humbled and enlightened by our initiatives. We look forward to cultivating more relationships here to ensure the success of our efforts to benefit the children and surrounding villages.
Fatima Centre 2010
Zomba Plateau 2014
Mount View primary school 2021
Here is a brief reflection on what we have achieved since living on-site at Fatima Centre:
* We have a school bus to accommodate all 20 children
* Enrolled the children in private schools in Limbe (37km away)
* We have a generator to help us with intermittent electricity
* Drilled five more boreholes to help the villagers (12 boreholes total)
* Refurbished our medical clinic as an OPD and maternity hospital through a private sponsor (currently awaiting inauguration - watch this space)
*Upgraded our livestock pen to trade goats and chickens.
*Acquired a few pets (3 sheep, 3 tortoises, 4 rabbits) to teach the children responsibility and tender loving care.
*Installed playground facilities, a multi-purpose football pitch, a weather-proof table tennis table, a cricket pitch and a cycling track.
* Enhanced our horticultural efforts to grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables organically, using our own compost and manure.
* Completed the construction of our guesthouse, which includes a creativity room.
*Updated our boys’ and girls’ houses with new kitchens and washrooms.
*Laid a new track to the fish dam to demarcate our access (it was being encroached upon by neighbours)
*Recently celebrated Fatima Centre’s 10th Anniversary. Hooray!
Zarina and her husband, Andy, spend most
of the year living at Fatima Centre with the children. If you would like to visit the orphanage, please get in touch to discuss.