By Mkhululi Ncube
Well-wishers have finished constructing a room for the family of a 108-year-old Bulilima man whose homestead was torched two weeks ago while the second room is under construction.
Chronicle has been co-ordinating support for the Tjinjika Village family and on Wednesday delivered clothes and foodstuffs that were brought by well-wishers to the paper’s offices in Bulawayo.
Touched by the family’s plight, well-wishers in Zimbabwe, South Africa and around the world have supported the family with financial and material resources to construct a two roomed house.
“When my huts were burnt, I thought that was the end of the world for me but I have seen that God loves me. I lost everything in the arson attack but through the generosity of the people I am in a better position because of what we have received from well-wishers,” said Mr Lewis Phiri.
He said he can’t believe that he will now be using a modern house built by bricks and roofed with zinc iron sheets, something that he only saw from his neighbours.
“I pray that God blesses all the wonderful people who saw my story and have been giving me and my family support. I hear one of the well-wishers promised to give me US$50 per month for the whole year, what else can I ask for?’’ he said.
His wife Mrs Esinathi Phiri (66), said the arsonist, Felix Moyo, had threatened to axe her before she fled when neighbours saw the fire and rushed to the homestead.
“He made me kneel and said I must do my last prayer before he axes me. Wayefuna ukungibulala. I am glad people came in and he ran away,” she said.
Mrs Phiri said when the huts were torched, they were sleeping and she had to pull her husband out of the hut as he was fast asleep.
She said the attack seriously affected them with Mr Phiri’s blood pressure shooting up.
“We did not know that God had a wonderful plan for us. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for publishing our situation in your newspaper which has seen us getting all this support. If we continue to mourn about what happened we will be ungrateful to God for moving on his people all over the world to come to our aid,” she said.
Village head for the area Mr Tatjiwana Ncube said they initially feared for the worst when they first heard of the arson attack.
“My fear was that Mr Phiri could have perished in the fire because of his old age. I did not imagine him escaping. But when I came and saw him I was happy. What happened here was terrible. There was no need for all this destruction. I plead with the police to act and arrest the culprit,” he said.
Mr Ncube said the community came together to see how they could assist the family but faced a challenge with resources.
“I was pleasantly surprised to hear that after their situation was published in the Chronicle there were people who were already donating resources. On behalf of the community, I thank all who have given in cash or kind,” he said.
The village head who was leading by example was fitting the door to the first completed room when the Chronicle arrived at the homestead yesterday morning.
He said the community will continue assisting the family with free labour until they are accommodated.
The family of eight still needs support to help build some of the huts which were burnt so that they have enough houses to share as a family.
Those who want to assist in kind can drop their donations at Chronicle building while those wishing to donate money can EcoCash the family on 0776572691 (Sibongile Zimande). The Chronicle