A 13-year-old BanonieMwale was living in Nkhota-kota district, Malawi, and met Jenny Naylor, a volunteer on an expedition from the UK. Banonie, who spoke very little English, asked her to be his pen pal.
2001 - 2008:
Over a 7 year period, letters were sent back and forth between Banonie in Malawi and Jenny in UK during which time Banonie’s written English gradually improved.
2002 - 2006:
Banonie’sfather (a fisherman) dies after being discharged from a local hospital as he had been unable to pay for medical assistance. Banonie’s mother’s health deteriorates soon after and with no medical help, she dies of unknown causes in their village. Banonie leaves the village to live with an uncle in the city of Blantyre who fortunately pays for his schooling.
2007 - 2008:
Banonie secures his first job at a hotel in the city of Blantyre working in the ice-cream parlour. During this same period, Jenny starts working in Dubai at the new Atlantis The Palm Resort. Atlantis The Palm commences a recruitment programme with recruitment campaigns across Asia for hotel staff.
A job offer is extended to Banonie as a Pool & Beach Cleaner. Despite having never travelled outside Malawi, Banonie accepts the job and arrives in Dubai to start work at Atlantis The Palm.
2008 - 2014:
This is the pinnacle moment when Banonie decides to start helping those less fortunate back home in his local community. He puts aside some of his monthly salary and on a visit back to his home in Nkhotakota village, creates a committee of village elders and trusted friends to start building a primary school. He decides to call the school the Jenny Naylor Nursery and Primary School, and establishes the BanonieMwale Charitable Programme. His savings cover the salaries of two teachers.
Banonie returns to Malawi to marry Grace Chingeni whom he’d known since 2007. Jenny flies to Blantyre to be at their wedding. Before returning to Dubai, Banonie visits his village in northern Malawi to see how the school is progressing. He has a short period in a Dubai hospital recovering from Malaria before returning to work.
Banonie’s commitment to his work is rewarded by the achievement of a various Employee Colleague awards. See his finals awards interview here where he talks about how he found his way to working at Atlantis: https://youtu.be/PTpUtdaxEd8
Banonie has progressed in his career and is Assistant Manager, Kids Club at Atlantis The Palm. He has succeeded in achieving a Business Administration Diploma from Westford School of Management at Sharjah. He has dedicated his free time to promoting the Primary School’s cause and is committed to improving the education of poor children in his home country.