Two weeks ago, one of the ZANE helpers, Jane*, was going away on leave and asked us to keep an eye on Felicity* who is 82.
She has lived in Trafalgar Court, an old block of flats in Harare, for many years. The lift has not worked in that building for as long as we have known her and there are 110 steps to Felicity’s flat.
We went to visit Felicity and found her to be in a very sorry state, she could barely walk to the toilet let alone manage the steps. She had fallen down twice in her flat as she was so unsteady on her feet. She is losing her sight and I had bought her some Ocuvite eye drops which are $22 a bottle but they do slow down the macular degeneration of the retina so is essential medication. She can ill afford to pay for this.
ZANE has been giving her $100 per month for years. We spoke to her about moving but she absolutely refused.
A couple of weeks later Jane again went to visit her and this time found her lying in a bed soaked in urine, she could no longer get to the toilet and her legs were swollen and very blue in colour. Jane rang me in a panic last Friday afternoon saying she needed to move Felicity and at last, she had agreed. There is no running water in Trafalgar Court, or if there is it does not reach the 5th floor so Felicity was filthy, as was the flat.
I arranged for Matron to admit her into Athol Evans and then went to EMRAS and paid for an ambulance to collect Felicity. Finally, she arrived at Athol Evans at about 7 pm on Friday evening to be met by Matron – they promptly gave her a bath and hair wash (her first in over a year).
The doctor saw her on Saturday morning and has ordered all sorts of tests in order to make a diagnosis. She is already much better, walking again but totally incontinent.
Obviously, she is going to cost us a great deal of money but we have a new donor coming to Zimbabwe next month and I hope he may take her on. Meanwhile, I have told Matron we will cover her costs and we are hoping and praying that we can stretch our budget until someone comes to our aid.
Such a sad story of a lonely little person who has never had children and was too proud to ask for help.
At least we have brought some dignity back into her life and she will now be well looked after.
* Names and images have been changed for security reasons.