I wish it was as simple as throwing money at a problem. I wish I could throw money at this problem. But I can’t. In fact I’m half certain that within the month that I have gone, regardless of how much money or food she has on her, she will be dead.
That’s the bitch about old age. First you need to learn to accept dependency. And two, if you are not able to depend on anyone, death is imminent.
Rudi realized and accepted long ago that she needs help. Her problem is not the psychological hurdle of accepting dependency. Instead, Rudi’s problem is that she wants to live, but no-one cares.
For those of you who have followed the story of Rudi’s incredible life, this is possibly her final chapter.
The last time I wrote about Rudi, her and her granddaughter Lourdes started up a small bean business. I also paid for Lourdes to attend a training college so that one day she could support herself and Rudi. Lourdes chose to learn how to be a ‘hair dresser.’ The family moved to Beira. Lourdes got a job and the youngest children were adopted by an uncle and now attend school and seem to be happy. Rudi went to stay with someone she calls an ‘adopted daughter.’ But the ‘adopted daughter’ sees Rudi as a burden and an extra mouth to feed.
I did not see the family for a month. And in that month, Lourdes has married a much older man and has moved up North of the country, abandoning Rudi and her job. Rudi has been expelled from her ‘adopted daughters’ house and told to return to Mafambisse to live on her own.
Today I found Rudi alone in her little Mafambisse house. She leans against her crumbling mud shack, head bowed and defeated. A single tear slides down her cheek.
“My family said they would come back to fetch me in 3 days, but it has already been seven,” she said.
I notice her dwindling food supplies. They left her with a kg of rice and a single malaria treatment.
The usual smiles are no longer there. She knows I am leaving Mozambique and she knows nobody else cares.
The door to her shack has been stolen. Her old family photos of her children, whom have all died, are strewn around, lying in the open, battered and smeared by rain. She has nothing. She has no-one.
But she wants to live.
I do not know what to do. All I can think of is buying her more beans and leaving the sack with her church. I cannot leave it with her as she has no security and will quickly become a victim of theft. But leaving it with the church is no guarantee either. In the past they have kept her money from her previous bean business and spent it on ‘church improvements.’
I have 10 days left in Mozambique and need to find a speedy, secure solution for Rudi. As I said, I wish I could throw money at this problem. But Rudi needs more than money. She needs someone to physically care for her. She cannot even remember to take a full malaria treatment, yet alone get herself to hospital when she does have malaria. And malaria hits regularly in these parts. In the past I have found her shivering with an intense malarial fever, too weak to stand or eat or drink. I have found her in the knick of time more than once. What will come of her when I am gone and when there is no-one to find her?
She will die, that I am certain of.
Sometimes I wish her suffering would stop, that she would die. But that’s the problem – death comes with pain. And pain is everything I don’t want for Rudi.
I have learned and seen a lot in my time here in Mozambique. I have seen how a war has torn families apart. Because of war, husbands and wives were separated, children grew up without parents. Family unity, structure and security disappeared. And the nation broke down.
I have 10 days to find a solution. 10 days to find someone who cares. And money is not going to help.
“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”
– Mother Teresa
Who is Rudi? Read how I met Rudi and learn about her incredible life story: http://africafarandwide.com/2013/02/22/a-token-plastic-elephant-my-silent-promise/