A 79-year-old woman of Garden compound Abelesi Phiri has been abandoned by her relatives, who accuse her of being a witch following the deaths of her two sons and three grandchildren. Her only home has been flooded and she was evacuated by well-wishers with the help of the local ward Councillor, Adrian Banda.
Her only crime, is that she is old and lost her biological children and grandchildren. Because of this, none of her relatives want anything to with her. They have abandoned her and only the good will of neighbors has kept her alive. Even the family members that she helped raise have also turned their back on her claiming she is a witch.
Two months ago, her two-roomed house, which was left to her by her late son, with was flooded during heavy rains leaving her in a hopeless situation.
This is her story:
Ms Phiri: Ine dzina langa ndine Abelesi Phiri. Pano nilineka ninabadwa mu 1940. Vuto nilinayo. Neze nabana awiri azimuna na azukulu atatu koma wonse anafa. Nilineka mwamene mwani pezela mulungu ndiye amene anisunga nilibe mau ambili yokamba
My Name is Abelesi Phiri and l was born in 1940 and I have problems right now. I am living alone and only receive help from well-wishers.
I was married for 15 years without children and so I started to question God, “is this how you created me”. I had my sons when I was older. When I conceived my first son, I wondered who would raise him, because l was getting older and before long I had another son. And the devil also worked hard to make sure I stayed alone and he took my sons.
I had two male children and three grandchildren and they all died. I am just alone, the way you have found me. God is the one who is taking care of me. I do not have much to say.
The Sun: Do you have relatives who can help you?
Ms Phiri: : Achibululu aliko lomba kulibe anganithandize kulibe lomba thandizo kuchokera pamane anafela bana banga. Nidwala pano, kulibe nawamene angabwela kunipasila madzi, kulibe kuti mwagona bwanji, kulibe niso cabe . Abululu aliko koma mitima yawo ndiyolimba safuna kunionako
Yes, I do have relatives but these days they are not willing to help me ever since my children died. I am old and sick. No one comes to see me or find out how I slept. The only people who check on me are just ordinary people, none of my relatives.
The Sun: Why do your relatives not come and visit you?
Ms Phiri: Amakamba kuti ndine mfiti yamene inadya bana bao. kaya nikadyanso iwo kaya siniziba koma ninabasunga akula misinkhu ikulu abala nabana banzao alutenga ukwati. Siningadye banthu.
Abelesi Phiri’s House: Picture by LINDA SOKO TEMBO
My relatives say I am a witch that I bewitched my children and grandchildren who died. They think if they are close to me, I will kill them and yet I looked after them and they got married from my home and have children today. They are calling me a witch because my children died. These are the problems I am facing.
The Sun: How do you manage to feed yourself?
Ms Phiri: I survive with the help of well-wishers. When they visit they bring me food to eat. At my age, I cannot work.
When they give me money, I buy sweet potato leaves ‘Kalembula’ and I cook and that for three days and days go by. My main worry is that I have no home and well-wishers are paying for my rent. I am homeless.
Eating alone is not a problem. The challenge comes in when you have children because you will be thinking what the children are going to eat but since am alone am not really under pressure.
The problem is the house I am living is in a bad swampy area. If a new place could be found for me and a house built for me with the help of government I would be very happy.
I am being taken care of by Mr Aaron Jere and Justen Banda, they are the children that God gave me and they are always looking after me.
My names are Aaron Jere. I knew this woman years back when she was my landlord and one of her sons was my good friend.
Right now Ms Phiri is all by herself. If we do not constantly check on her it is a problem. It is a challenge for her looking at her age. She cannot find employment anywhere. So we are always checking on her and asking what problems she is going through and if the challenge is big we take it to our area councilor. He has been very helpful.
We cannot say Ms Phiri is comfortable, she is really suffering and struggling. All we are asking is for a piece of land to be found for her and a house to be constructed.
My names are Justen Banda I have lived with our mother for a very long time and my relatives used to rent at her house.
We are appealing to well-wishers if they can help her with a home even a one room would be fine because her house is always a challenge during the rain season.
We try our best from our little incomes to buy her food but it’s a challenge for us also because we have families and are not working. We try to put our little resources together for food. If we had enough money we would have bought her a house.