Today I said goodbye to Rudi. It’s been one year since I met her, one year since I learned about her life story. She was walking down a long dusty Mafambisse road, tired and defeated. She had a young boy on her back, too young to be her own child. I stopped the vehicle and asked if she would like a lift? She said ‘no,’ as her home was only a few hundred metres away. She didn’t take the lift, but she did tell me a little bit about herself…
I did not know then how deeply she would affect me and how in the coming year, I would get to know her and learn about her incredible story.
Today was a big day in that I have finally found a solid solution for Rudi. Someone to care!!! Rudi was completely abandoned 10 days ago and her survival was at stake. I felt I had to try and find someone to look after her; to house her, to feed her and care for her when she becomes ill. Especially since we are moving to Malawi tomorrow and I will be unable to check on her like I have done in the past year.
Rudi is at the stage in her life that she needs hands on care. At the same time, she is still bubbling with life and wants to live! I had 10 days to find someone who cares.
It is through the internet that I have found a solution for Rudi. In fact, for me this experience has demonstrated how powerful the internet can be. And I’d like to say thank you to all my readers for your support and for contacting me with your ideas. It is through my readers that I got direction about where to start with regards to helping her.
To cut a long story short, I was advised to contact a missionery in Dondo who has experience in caring for widows. And she suggested I visit the department of ‘Repartecao dos Assuntos da Mulher e Accao social Dondo.’
They suggested that Rudi go to a government facility called Nhangau which houses and takes care of abandoned people. It’s a case of ‘help’ being available but no-one knows about it! I was both excited and relieved that a place like this exists in this area. But the best part was seeing Rudi’s smile when we told her the news, that we have a solution.
We cracked on with the paperwork. We had to find the secretary of her district and get a declaration letter stating that she has no-one to care for her. We went in search of the secretary at 5 in the morning. We meandered through shacks and shamba’s with the moon still shining. Finally we found him and managed to make an appointment with him for 2pm after his shift in the factory.
By then end of the day, we had completed all the documents necessary which is unheard of when it comes to completing paperwork in Mozambique! I must commend the social services department for being so helpful and efficient.
This morning we met Rudi at her shack in Mafambisse and packed all her belongings into the vehicle for the last time. To Nhangau it is!
I was nervous to see Nhangau. Would it be suitable for Rudi? This was my last chance to help her.
I have passed Nhangau many times on our way to Rio Sevane beach, but had never noticed it. For those of you who are not familiar with Mozambique, do not be deceived by the shabby paint work of the entrance or tatty road sign. I was ecstatic to find that Nhangau has everything Rudi needs. In fact she has a 2 bedroom house and veranda all to herself. She has electricity and a bed to sleep on opposed to sleeping on a reed mat. She even has mosquito gauze on her windows. There is a kitchen that caters for the 70 or so other residents. There is a hospital only 50 metres away. There is running water and cherry on the top, there are new friends to make! This is perfect for Rudi and she couldn’t be happier!
My favourite scene today was when 2 very old widows came up to Rudi to introduce themselves. They were warm and friendly and happy to see her. I suspect they will become great friends. After feeling unwanted for so long, she now has a place where she belongs and is with people who have come from similar circumstances. I believe there is great potential here for a happy ending.
” The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
Finding a solid solution for Rudi has been a challenge. I have learned a lot about myself during this experience, a lot about the Mozambican culture and the issues the country is experiencing on a social level. I have also learned an important lesson about how to help. Often, the way I wanted to help, was not sustainable and sometimes not even relevant. There were numerous things I tried, often ending in disappointment. And I realise now that during the course of me trying to find a sustainable solution for Rudi, I had to learn about the culture, the laws and the issues. I had to learn about Rudi’s reality before I could be effective. My way was not the way.
I am thankful and relieved that I found out about Nhangau just in time! And all I can do now is hope; hope that Rudi feels she belongs, that she no longer feels loneliness, that she is well cared for and that the final chapter of her life is a happy one.
Goodbye Rudi and Goodbye Mozambique! I’ve truly loved our time in Mozambique and would not change a thing! I will be blogging more on Mozambique in the future, but very soon, my blog will be introduced to Malawi!
“Live authentically, and savour each precious moment of your journey; because the moment you arrive at a destination, another journey begins,”
If anyone is interested in Rudi’s story, here are the blog post links from beginning to end: