One day in March this year, 66-year-old Joseph Mozalande of Mazale Village in Traditional Authority Kapeni near Lunzu in Blantyre found himself a destitute.
The temporary house made of unburnt bricks and rusty iron sheets that he lived in failed to withstand the force of nature exerted by Cyclone Freddy.
Mozalande who, in his youthful days was part of a team of bricklayers that constructed Sanjika Palace in Blantyre in the 1970s, had nowhere to live with his 12-year-old grandson Fabiano.
Mozalande, who was a born as the only child in his family, depends on Fabiano and is his sole direct relation.
“I had a wife and two children. The son died in a train and bus collision at Chirimba level crossing in Blantyre in 1989,” he lowers his voice and clears his throat as he recounts how his life has been sliding down the slope over the years.
Mozalande says he lost his wife in the 1990s. But his hope was renewed when his daughter gave birth to a son although the joy was short-lived.
“I lost my daughter about two years ago. Her son is the only direct relation that I have,” he says.
Mozalande lives a mostly destitute life which is, however, lessened by support from people of goodwill mostly from the local Catholic Church where he congregates.
One of his major benefactors is fellow parishioner Aurthur Kalitera who provides him with food.
The youthful Kalitera says when Mozalande’s house collapsed, he constructed a temporary shelter for him using the partially damaged iron sheets and bricks.
Kalitera then started contacting social media influencers for support for reconstruction of Mozalande’s house. But all his efforts proved futile.
“As the months went on, I started fearing for the old man on what will become of him should the next rainy season find him in the makeshift house,” he says.
While he continued his search for resources, Kalitera was pleasantly surprised to learn from two women who came from Southend Private School in Blantyre to inform him that the school’s pupils will construct a dignified shelter for Mozalande.
“I am grateful to Southend for the gesture. I was suffering in my heart to see him suffer. The children have fulfilled my dream of linking Mr. Mozalande to benefactors,” he says.
Speaking on behalf of Southend School, headteacher Pauline Ntonga says the money used in the construction of the house came from 250 pupils who participated in a charity fundraising activity.
“This house has been funded by these children. We designate a no uniform day where pupils and parents pay a fine and the money is channeled towards an agreed charity event,” she says.
Ntonga says initially the school set its eyes on a location in Mpemba until their attention was drawn to the plight of Mozalande in Lunzu.
Village head Mazale representative Edward James says the community is glad that finally Mozalande has been given a decent home.
“All I can say is that God should bless the children and their families abundantly,” he says.
Now that Mozalande has been given a better house and sanitation facilities, what is his comment?
“I am failing to express my happiness. I am overjoyed,” he says while wiping a tear with his right arm.
These are tears of joy, after Southend Private School pupils wiped away the tears of pain.