Msundwe Community in Lilongwe, 40 kilometers from Lilongwe City Center, on the Lilongwe – Mchinji Road, wore a sombre mood last Saturday when they woke up to sad news that four orphans at Comfort Children’s Home (Orphanage) had perished in an inferno that gutted down a boys room at the orphanage that night.
Innocent Paul, 18, the only survivor of the fire, told Lilongwe News Agency (Lina) that being the oldest boy in the room, he always led the others in most of the activities and acted as head-boy.
“On this day, we went to bed after I had made sure that my four young friends were comfortable, I then took the candle back to the living room before putting it off and went back in darkness and slept,” explained Paul.
He further narrates the ordeal: “I was awakened by the shouting of one of the three boys in the room, Evance Laiford, who was disabled, had feeble legs such that he couldn’t stand up and walk. I saw the ceiling falling with fire, mattresses were on fire, and I fell down from my bed, a double deck, not seeing what was happening, the room was full of smoke, I was choking, I couldn’t see. I walked round the wall feeling for the door, which luckily I found and went out.”
Among the four boys who perished in the room, was Samuel Banda, a ten year old son of the in-charge of the orphanage, Pastor Elnard Banda.
The other boys are:Evance Laiford, 12, who had feeble legs and one who alerted the others, Madalitso Yohane, 4, and Manase Pansi also 4 years old.
Pastor Banda, founder and in-charge of the orphanage said the fire was mysterious because it was as if fuel had been poured in the ceiling, alleged Pastor Banda, who sleeps in the same building which has several rooms.
“Yes, we were asleep but it did not take too long for everyone to wake up only to find that the fire had already engulfed the whole room, ceiling had fallen and children have been burnt to death already,” disclosed Banda in grief.
“I know this is the work of the devil because of all works of Christianity he hates so much helping the needy, but I will not stop the work given me by God,” preaches Pastor Banda who belongs to Zambezi Evangelical Church.
Banda said he immediately reported the matter to Msundwe Police and also called Lilongwe City fire men who drove a distance of forty kilometers and found most of the fire had been put off by the community but still helped in preventing the ceiling from spreading the fire to other rooms.
The deceased were taken by police to Kamuzu Central Hospital and were buried behind the orphanage on Sunday.
Pastor Banda says he began the orphanage after he received a vision from God in a dream where he found himself dining with widows, orphans and disabled and after prayer, when he opened the Bible without any chapter in his mind, he opened James Chapter 1 verses 26 – 27 where the Bible emphasizes that the best Christian work is to look after widows and orphans, and so it became clear to him.
Banda belongs to Zambezi Evangelical Church and has been pastor since 2000 but now he is looking after the orphanage as his full time pastoring.
He helps 120 children most of whom live in their villages except for the five, four of whom died, he has 105 widows who also live in their villages.
In addition to the five boys, he adopted a day old girl, Sara, whom he lives with after her mother died in labour of the same.
His ministry is sponsored by Aquid Life Line through in addition to his own resources.
Wiscot Soko, a neighbor said it was so tragic. “When I heard the commission, I ran to the scene and found people pouring water through the window to stop the fire, I joined in but it was too late.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :