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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Making Good on a Promise

The Buckaroo made good on the promise to find out more about the little old lady that showed up on our doorstep, yes, the one with the Cape accent in the last entry. It turns out she IS from the Cape in South Africa. Hers is a grim story.

Years ago she was married to a Malawian pilot who brought her here to live. Her husband died in an accident later on and, I can’t believe people do this but, yes, her in-laws came after all the property she owned with her husband. She became a destitute. She decided she was going to continue to live here for the sake of her children. Now all her children are grown but one of them died leaving behind 3 orphans. She now has to work (and she’s clearly a senior citizen) to support these children and herself. She's too old to work full-time for my friend so she works once a week for her and once a week for one of the neighbors. I don't know is she works anywhere else. She lives just outside of Lilongwe City in a high-density peri-urban location. She rents a home but she's just acquired land to build a house (good for her!)

My friend narrated the story and a sad rhetorical question I remember is: “She’s looking after orphans, shouldn’t she be the one to be looked after [by her own children].”

I note 3 social problems in her story and I’m sure there are many more if I dare look hard enough:

1. Property grabbing
2. Inadequate public welfare for the eldery
3. Lack of family support for the eldery (children not looking after aging parents well enough)

I don’t know what I’ll do personally to help her out, what would you do??

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