Inside / Out with Freeman Chari

When Zimbabwe was battered by Cyclone Idai, Freeman Chari wanted to help. But what could he do from Ohio in the United States, where he currently lives? He quickly set up a GoFundMe campaign online, in an effort to raise a few thousand dollars to help with the relief effort in Chimanimani region, which was worst hit. The response exceeded all his expectations. More than 2 000 donations later – mostly small contributions from other Zimbabweans in the diaspora – he had raised more than $84 000 to buy desperately needed food, blankets and building supplies. Not all of the money raised by Chari could be used for the immediate emergency response, so he put the remainder into developing local schools – installing electricity, fixing up the school buildings and buying chairs and desks.“Together we can complete this journey and transform some lives,” he said on Facebook. Source: Mail & Guardian

We asked Freeman a few questions to get to know him better:

Describe yourself in five words?
Frank, Persistent, Compassionate and Open

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Recklessness is not bravery.

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever done?
One night we were at Chikwanha. Around 2 am we walked behind the shops looking for a lodge, suddenly an undercover cop drew his gun and shouted “Everyone to the wall!”. I was with the late Wellington Zindove and Sendisa Sandura. Zindi told him off. In my drunken stupor I declared that I was his senior at work and challenged him to produce his work ID. I drew my UZ student ID card and flashed it to his face. I think for a moment he believed us.

What is your most treasured possession?
I do think it is my memory. Somehow I find myself remembering some things that happened ages ago especially when triggered by some music.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
When you know you can but circumstances, society and the system connive to tell you that you can’t.

Do you have any strange hobbies?
Yes. I have a stack of books that I read when I visit the toilet.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
I appear younger than I actually am because I only grow very little facial hair. At the club they always ask for my ID.

What is your greatest extravagance?
I buy books. When I go shopping with my wife, she leaves me in a bookshop until she is all done.

What have you got in your fridge?
Garlic, Ginger, Honey. My kids are prone to colds and I use these for my concoction.

What is your greatest fear?
Dying before I have experimented with all my solutions to our common problems

What have you got in your pockets right now?
My wallet & phone. With those I can travel anywhere in United States.

What is your favourite journey?
Any vacation that I have to do with my 3 kids. I love the anticipation, the excitement and the chaos that comes with it. It is liberating and tiring. When I am tired, my mind is at peace.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Daniel Chingoma of the Taisek Engineering fame. With no formal education he was bold enough to confront some of the water challenges that our scientists with PhDs are failing to.

When and where were you happiest?
When my kid Ezekiel was born. We had lost our daughter at birth in 2009 and it was a tough & emotionally difficult journey from there. It took us 2 years to have another kid and when he came, he brought with him so much joy.

What’s your biggest vice?
I am frank, sometimes that comes across as being insensitive.

What were you like at school?
I was the noisiest. I attended 6 High Schools and I always had friends in every class. I remember I was once made Senior Prefect at Nerupiri after the school made a mistake of asking students to vote for their Headboy. I won and I was never prefect material. I doubt I ever wrote down any noisemakers.

What are you doing next?
I started a Travel Platform dedicated to using technology to promote African tourism. I am fully invested in it at least for the next few years.

Follow Freeman Chari on Twitter

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