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Monday, December 16, 2013

Local Character in need of help

Have you seen her, riding her bicycle in town? An elderly lady wearing a kaftan, hair pulled back in a bun, glasses perched on her nose. I’m sure you have. She is a local character. Did you ever wonder about her, about where she comes from and where she goes to? I did. And I so hoped that, despite her obvious poverty and aloneness, that she had a loving caring family at home. She doesn’t. This is a little bit of her story.

She was born 86 years ago, into a family of a mother, father and brother. I don’t know all her history but I do know that her family have all died, and in tragic circumstances. She never married and or had children. But she was a productive and purposeful member of our community. A school teacher for 35 years and an active member of the Anglican Church, she was also a great lover of animals. When you saw her riding her bike in town she was going to feed the pigeons and the stray cats that haunt the alleys. Although she planned well for her retirement, like so many people, she lost almost everything and reached a stage where she was poverty stricken. And alone.  For many years she has been living in a run down, isolated house in Avondale. She hasn’t had running water or electricity in years. Because she was alone and so vulnerable her home was broken into 5 times. The brutal and mindless violence that was inflicted on her caused her to retreat into her own world. And because she didn’t have the financial resources to secure her home, she began collecting rubbish and piling it into huge heaps at the windows and doors of her home. The rubbish was piled so high that there was no natural light or air from any window or door.  She lived in darkness and filth. There were only narrow corridors for her to walk and recently she fell over the rubbish, breaking her leg badly. She lay in that filth and darkness for hours. Kind, caring people have been looking after her. After weeks in Parirenyatwa she was given a place in a retirement home. As you can imagine, she is not responding well to this environment. She isn’t used to having people around her, to being part of a family or a community.

Attempts have been made to clear out her old home. So far it has taken weeks to partially clear two rooms. Hanging over her bed was a picture of a beautiful, smiling young woman – herself 60 years ago.  Tucked into her sheets on the bed were things she obviously treasured. Eggs, boiled sweets, ornaments. And on the top of the piles of rubbish were new packets of bird seed and cat food.

Her future is bleak and uncertain. There is great strain on her carers as she is not adjusting to her new environment and it is an emotional roller coaster for them. The added financial burden on the carers is great and that is the reason for this appeal. To help them to give her some quality of life.

I haven’t mentioned this lady’s name as I think she has survived the hardship, fear and loneliness because of her amazingly strong character and pride. I don’t want to take that pride away from her now. But if you do want to help her, if this story has touched your heart,  I will gladly provide more details. Her main carer is a highly respected and very much loved fellow Zimbabwean who already gives hugely to our community. She will verify the legitimacy of this plea if you would like.

Bless you all and I hope with all my heart that you have loving, caring families and friends. And that you never feel alone.

To contribute please contact me, Bev on 0772 311 895 or e-mail

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