Donations from the heads of two Scottish karate schools have set an African rising star of the sport on course for a bright future.
Patience Mukarati, 20, from Zimbabwe, has had her nursing course fees paid for by sensei Seon Mclaren of JKS Glasgow and sensei Liam Gallagher of Senjokai Karate in Stewarton, Ayrshire.
The pair heard about Patience when Dr Ginie Servant-Miklos of charity FairFight – which empowers young women and girls through martial arts – featured on their karate podcast.
Patience, from Marondera, in Mashonaland East Province, is now going to study for the nursing aide programme at the Harare branch of the Red Cross.
Patience, who joined FairFight’s karate school in Marondera in 2016, has already won multiple medals in karate competitions, including an international competition in Zambia when she was just 17-years-old.
She has been FairFight Zimbabwe’s karate team captain since 2019.
Patience said karate had helped her overcome barriers she faced in life, saying she was “a better person, a better woman and a better champion”.
“It helped me to know my rights, to know I can be someone else in life. It helped me to overcome difficult situations,” she said.
“I just want to share with you that in life, never give up on whatever you want to do, no matter what people think or say.
“Being a woman doesn’t mean we are inferior but rather we can be whatever we want as long as we are determined.
I thank the FairFight group for supporting me mentally as well as physically. l wouldn’t be where l am if not for them. l also thank our supporters, mentors, sponsors for being with us since day one.
“Your support is greatly appreciated by me and all the other karatekas.”
JKS Glasgow was the winner of the Evening Times Community Champions Sports award last year for its contribution to the city. Seon was also named Senior Coach of the Year by the Glasgow Council for Sport.
Seon said: “Karate is about much more than punches, strikes and kicking. It not only teaches an essential life skill – protecting yourself in an emergency – but also teaches everyone to become mentally, physically and emotionally strong and confident.
“Karate training is a way of life in which individual growth and development is as important as the physical skills they learn – and community is really at the heart of what we do.
“Using karate to reach and empower young women is something we can really get behind.
Liam said: “Patience is a truly inspirational woman and it was the least we could do to support her.
“She is a bright and dynamic young woman with a bright future. Despite growing up in the most desperate and heartbreaking circumstances, she has achieved amazing things.
“When Ginie told us about Patience, and explained how urgent her situation was, she asked if I could ask for donations from members of our club to help.
“We felt it would take too long to raise the funds needed, so me and Seon decided to pay for Patience’s fees ourselves. Within 24 hours, Patience was on her way.”
“We will continue to support Fairfight and look forward to getting more involved. We hope our friends and colleagues in the martial arts community will also get involved and give these amazing women the chance to show the world what they are capable of.”
Liam and Seon got involved with FairFight through world-renowned Martial Arts master Stephen Chan OBE – who is a friend, and his student, Zimbabwean karate athlete-turned-coach Ali Nyoni.
FairFight director, Dr Ginie Servant-Miklos, then appeared as a guest on “That Karate Podcast”, hosted by Seon and Liam.
Dr. Servant-Miklos said: “The power of direct solidarity is that you do away with red tape and bureaucracy. You donate money, and it immediately goes to the person who needs it. We went to the Red Cross to register Patience straight away: her course starts on March 21.
“It also gets us away from the typical “poor nameless African child” mentality that a lot of Westerners have regarding Africa, because of well-intentioned but misguided campaigns by big western charities who plaster suffering children’s faces on posters.
“Our girls have names, they have dreams, and they have just as much right to pursue those dreams and speak for themselves and anyone else.”