MACHINGA, MALAWI - One could mistake Kanduwa Sande for a contractor hired to clear up the once-dilapidated public football pitch in Machinga.
But Sande is an officer at the Machinga Police Station - and has a passion for sports.
The 42-year-old sub-inspector, also an athletics coach, has volunteered to turn a once-forsaken pitch into a sports complex with facilities like a track, netball court and climbing walls for children.
He says the aim is to help develop sports and reduce crime such as rape and sexual assault now rampant in his community.
"One of our responsibilities as police officers is also to reduce crime - to prevent people from doing crime,' Sande said. 'So, when one is idle, surely that person will indulge him- or herself in other bad behaviors like committing crimes."
As children wait their turn on a swing set, Kanduwa Sande give one a push. (Lameck Masina/VOA)
Sande has been doing voluntary work since 2011 using savings from his monthly salary and working during his free time.
"I don't spend my lunch hour (break), one hour and 30 minutes, eating only,' Sande said. 'No. I also work for maybe 50 minutes. Every day of my lunch hour is sacrificed for voluntary work."
Over the years, Sande ignored insults from people who didn't understand the motive behind his work, with some calling him crazy. He asked his wife to also ignore them.
Sande said, 'Because I knew people would say so many things to my wife: 'Are you allowing this one to do this job? Are you married to this person, this mad person?' So, I said, 'Don't tell me anything you hear from other people that will derail me from doing this.'"
In 2017, his dedication to volunteer work earned him an innovation award for sports, which involved a month-long visit to China, where he learned how best to proceed with his initiative.
Police officer Kanduwa Sande works on the sports complex he is voluntarily building on public land. (Lameck Masina./VOA)
Soon after, he purchased and began using machinery to fast-track his initiative.
Government sports officials and community leaders sometimes visit the facility to express appreciation for the work he is doing.
Charles Mandela is the village chief of the area Sande picked to build the sports complex.
Mandela said, "Ours is just an appeal to other well-wishers to help Sande in areas he can't do on his own, like constructing a fence around the ground so that all the sporting activities should be done inside the fence."
The Ministry of Sports and the Machinga district council will run the facility because it remains government property.
Sande said the sports complex is now nearly complete and expected to officially open to the public at the end of December.