JB bails out Mzuzu house fire victims

President Joyce Banda on Friday, August 23, 2012 presided over a ground breaking ceremony for a house to be constructed for a lady, Leah Banda, whose house was gutted by fire and in the process lost her dear son and property recently.

The ceremony took place at Katoto in the northern city of Mzuzu.

Leah Banda’s house caught fire on the night of 2nd August 2012 in what was believed to have been caused by an electrical fault. Sadly, her 13-year-old son, Promise Banda who alerted the mother about the fire, was killed in the inferno after all the family members had escaped.

The incident was widely covered by the media.

President Joyce Banda laying a foundation stone Mrs Lea Banda's house at Area 4, Katoto Low density in Mzuzu

President Banda disclosed that when she heard about the fire incident, she was deeply touched and pledged to help.

“I thought one of the ways of doing so is to construct a house for her. I was deeply saddened when I was informed that Mrs. Leah Banda lost a 13-year old son in the accident,” she said.

The President said she was saddened because being a mother herself, she knew what it meant to lose a son whom you have struggled to bring up until he reaches 13 years of age.

“It is a well-known fact that when a child is born, there is always celebration in a home because there are high expectations as you always look forward to what that child would become in future. Not only that, children are a source of happiness in any home and every parent who wishes his or her child well, makes sure to invest in that particular child for him or her to have a bright future.

“In the end, it is not only the child, who benefits when he or she grows up, but also the parent, relations and other siblings at a point of need,” the solemn looking Banda said, adding that she wanted to express to her fellow woman that she shares with her that pain, loss and sorrow.

The Head of State said the house that “we are to build for you” would ease the problem of accommodation for the victims.

President Banda will be paying rent for Leah for a period of six months when the house would be under construction.

Banda said the gesture demonstrates how committed her administration is to the welfare of women, in particular, those in dire need of support in various areas.

Housing matters are at the heart of her government, she said, adding that her government believes that better houses are a good measure of any country’s wealth.

“Therefore, I shall continue to advocate for well-planned cities with better structures that would withstand the effects of natural disaster and so many other social-economic and cultural consideration,” said Banda.

She thanked and congratulated Ministry of Lands and Housing, Mzuzu City Council and all those involved in the planning, identification and survey of this piece of land, and the designing of the structure.

She also commended the efforts by the Centre for Community Organization and Development (CCODE), Malawi Homeless People Federation and Habitat for Humanity who have built and continue to build houses for low income groups in our cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu.

“Finally, I wish to commend Press Properties and men and women who are building better, decent and adequate housing units in rural and urban areas in most cases replacing old houses built of grass thatch to modern houses.

“This is one of the expectations and priorities of my government that we move with modern times,” said the Head of State.

Speaking on behalf of the beneficiary, Leah’s brother Manasseh Mhango expressed appreciation to the President and Ms Ishmael for assisting his sister with various assorted items when she lost her property to the inferno.

“When this tragedy occurred on 2 August, my sister lost everything including clothes and all household items. It was extremely painful to bear the burden, especially that I also lost a nephew in the inferno,” explained Mhango.

Mhango further said what was extremely overwhelming was that the help had come from the president, which showed that the citizen number one cares and shares plight of the less privileged.-(Additional reporting  by Joel Chirwa, Malawi News  Agency.)

Leah Banda (left) holding back her tears as she walks to the podium with the president. Pic by Trouble Ziba

President Banda laying the foundation stone

Unveiling the plaque

President Banda assures Leah Banda of support

Breaking down into tears Leah Banda

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