"She needed a room and we had one available," he said. "It was as simple as that."
She took the train every day to the Fashion Institute in downtown Los Angeles. She earned straight A's.
Like clockwork, she arrived at 7:32 each night at the Simi Valley station. Joanne Abruzzese would be waiting to pick her up.
When she wasn't studying, Mofya, a devout Christian, hung out with friends from the Simi Valley church where the Abruzzeses worshiped.
"She was social but quiet," said Nina Sampietro, who belonged to the same social group at Cornerstone Community Church. "She was just really excited about what she would be doing with her life."
She planned to get her green card, work in the United States for a few years to save money and then return to Zambia.
Nina Woo, another church friend, said she was never boastful. "She would just say, 'We'll see where God has me.' "
On Sept. 12, a Friday, Mofya boarded the 3:35 p.m. train at Union Station, intending to meet with her women's Bible study group that night. At 4:23 p.m., the Metrolink and Union Pacific trains collided at a combined speed of 81 mph. Mofya's car slammed into the locomotive, which tore more than halfway into it.
Within an hour, firefighters on top of the crumpled, smoking hulk extricated Mofya and gently handed her to rescuers on the ground, including Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Denise Jones.
"You just go, 'My goodness, how can a body go through this and survive?' " Jones said.
Mofya was loaded into a medevac helicopter. A team of trauma surgeons and nurses at County-USC Medical Center were waiting. She was in the operating room by 8 p.m., undergoing what would be the first of many procedures. Doctors tried to reduce the swelling in her brain and removed a portion that was severely damaged.
Later, she had pins installed in a badly broken ankle and femur. She underwent a corneal transplant.
On Nov. 19, she had a final surgery, skin grafts to repair burns to her scalp.
Her sister flew in the day after the accident and didn't leave Mofya's side for six weeks. The Abruzzeses came every day, and her church friends set up an around-the-clock rotation.
After more than two months in a coma-like state, Mofya spoke.
"She looked at me and said, 'Mom, I hurt all over,' " Joanne Abruzzese recalled. Abruzzese called for a nurse, who thought she was kidding. "I said, 'No really, she's awake!' "
It was Thanksgiving Day.