10 days left to find someone who cares.

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.

Rudi     Last visit

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.

Nothing left     Talk

“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.

Family photos      Home

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.

Old floor brush      Rudi ii_edited-1

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.

Talk ii

“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:


32 replies »

  1. Thank goodness you could end this strand in your life with hopeful news. The atheists will say that this is just evidence of an uncaring material universe. One can argue the metaphysics of it all, but the real issue is whether we stop caring and acting because the universe cares nothing for us as individual beings . Hope all goes well for Rudi, you & your family. 🙂

  2. Hi there! I have great news about Rudi. I took her to the government social services department and next week she will be admitted into a facility for people with no family and who are unable to take care of themselves. She will be given accommodation, food, medical assistance and care. We’re both ecstatic about this! I have not seen the facility yet, but will post an update sometime soon once she has been admitted.

  3. This post has mvdd me deeply. I’ve only been to Africa (Egypt) once so far, but I’ve been struck by the sheer paradox of having people carrying all heir belongings in a little bundle right next to five star resorts. I wish I had an answer for your conundrum, but like you, like Rudi, I’m defeated. All I have left is the hope that, as a global community, we take responsibility for one another and eradicate poverty, so that the story of Rudi need never repeat itself.

  4. I’m with Lee (comment above)! Find Pastor Mario Casquinha from “Centro de Adoracao Peniel” and see if they can help her out. We’re moving back to Mozambique in September, so probably too late to help this lady out, but we’re going to work with Mario and he’s a really compassionate man.

    • Hi Carla, thank you for the information. I went to see social services in Dondo. Next week she will be admitted into a government facility that takes care of people without family. They offer shelter, food, medical assistance and care.

    • Hi Lee, it’s all sorted 🙂 I was successful with the social services department and Rudi will be admitted into a government facility that cares for people without family next week. I’m extra happy today, because any paper work in Moz tends to take ages and this took me just a day!

    • Good news, Rudi will be going into a government facility that takes care of people without family. She will be housed and fed as well as given medical assistance if necessary.

  5. I feel your pain and know what you are going through – it is never easy to leave behind all you have built up – especially the people. x I am praying God will find a way x

  6. A sad story powerfully written. I wish I had an answer, but all I have are questions, like why has her family deserted her?

    • Thank you mic66. I have the same questions as you. Not sure if you picked up that all her immediate family are no longer alive. Except for a son but it seems he has abandoned her too. The rest of her children died of aids and she was left alone to look after 3 grandchildren. The woman she has recently been staying with is someone she says she adopted many years ago. The family who have taken over the 2 young grandchildren are not her family by blood either, but rather by marriage and have expressed that they do not want Rudi to live with them due to lack of space and finance. Just to give you an idea about what Rudi has recently endured; over a month ago, she contracted malaria and was made to work in the fields regardless of being severely ill, to pay her way. I guess sometimes, understanding, compassion and family values are pushed aside in situations of poverty. I also wonder whether the family suspect Rudi does not have long and do not want to be responsible for a funeral and casket. If she dies alone, it becomes the governments problem. But that is just a guess. I cannot say for sure why she has been abandoned.