On Tuesday, May 28, 2012, Monica Namatcha woke up the bubbly girl that she had always been. But a day that began promisingly for her ended tragically when a pillar supporting a house in Manase, Blantyre, fell on her. She died before reaching Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital. Monicaâ€™s parents tell Emmanuel Muwamba what the tragedy means to them.
Four-year-old Monica Namatcha was a bubbly young girl who lived in the sprawling Manase slum in Malawiâ€™s commercial capital, Blantyre.
Like other slums, in Manase, people live in crowded conditions, plagued by extreme poverty and the lack of basic services.
Here, lives of many children remain a continuous fight for survival. Rickety shelters are a common sight, as are little kids working or begging, filthy water and air.
This is where Monica, 4, met her fate. A rickety pillar supporting a house in this unplanned area fell on her. It was a lucky escape for her peers and siblings.Â
Speaking from her living room filled up with smoke, Georgina Namatcha, Monicaâ€™s mother, rued the poor environment her family lives in, but said there is little she can do for now because of poverty.
The elderly woman stared blankly to the roof, looking disturbed. Georgina was deep in thoughts as tears flowed freely from her eyes while she settled for the interview.
â€œI have lost everything that life offered me, everything that brought joy and happiness to my life,â€ she lamented, remarking that Monica was a young girl who was the most intelligent among her children.
On Tuesday, May 28, while Georgina was home after doing her daily routine of searching for maize husks which she sells to dairy farmers in Thyolo, tragedy struck the family.
A pillar supporting a house in the crowded slum fell on Monica as she went out to play with her friends and siblings.
Monica was the sixth of Georginaâ€™s eight children.
The girl had just returned from school when her peers took her to the playground where she met with her fate.
Pointing at a pile of burnt bricks, which made up the pillar that knocked down Monica, Georgina recalled that nobody ever suspected that one day somebody would fall victim to the pillar which had no reinforcing wires to support it.
â€œShe has been playing here with her peers and siblings,â€ said Georgina. â€œShe left me in the house after she taken lunch.
She recalled how she got information that her daughter had been hit by the pillar.
She said she was in her compound doing household chores after returning from the search for maize husks in maize mills when a grandson came looking distressed and shouting that Monica was bleeding profusely.
â€œI asked him what the problem was but he did not utter a word for some time until a neighbour unexpectedly entered my house and broke the news that Monica was dying and I left immediately,â€ recalled Georgina.
She said the news hit her hard, adding she does not recall who passed Monica into her hands before well-wishers joined her on the way to the hospital.
â€œAt the time, Monica was still bleeding from the nose and mouth. She was unconscious,â€ said Georgina from her house.
However, when they reached Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital 10 minutes later, medical personnel broke the unexpected news; Monica was already dead.
â€œShe was a little girl who was healthy and her future looked promising. She was an intelligent girl. Who will come to my rescue?â€ lamented Georgina, her face full of tears, her head still wrapped in black cloth symbolising mourning.
Her husband, Divason, said he spent some time with the girl on the day she died. Divason, a tailor, said he left Monica in the house when she was taking lunch with her siblings.