Even after half a night’s sleep (hard to come by last night as Anabeiba has been in every waking thought since we spent a couple of hours with her yesterday), I’m finding it hard to write about her.
She has the house next door now, thank you God for that, and thank you, many people in the UK for your kindness & generosity. She’d filled it with her ‘babies’ (that’s what she calls her old folk) – well in excess of 70 old people.
Then, as is common here in Cali, there was an earthquake, which brought the ceiling and some walls down. Somehow, she’s managed to circumnavigate that, and the cost of 14 million Colombian pesos (just over £5,000/AU$7,400/US$8,000.
The homes are still spotlessly clean: and, despite having had one of her ‘babies’ die on Thursday, which wrecked her, when she saw us arrive, her smile was as wide as I’ve ever seen it. The first thing she gave me was the man’s death certificate… She weeps when I arrive (lots of people do that, I’m sure, but for different reasons!): it’s like the family of Jefferson, in an earlier blog – the utter delight and yes, disbelief, that gringoes would just keep going and going back again. For people like Ana and that family, YOU are as much a gift to them as anything you can do.
Money that got to her previously (last November), has also gone to putting up security bars outside the new house, and the kitchen has been enlarged. Already, she has some appliances, and more will be added as good deals are sought out on a cooker/stove, the commercial sized washing machine, and additional refrigeration space.
It is impossible to report the gut-wrenching emotion of visiting her foundation. While we were there, an ambulance drew up outside, delivering another ‘baby’ to her: now, even since November, it seems, police and ambulances just turn up at her home with old people, as she is the only person in the city who cares for them. She’s totally blown away to have the second house, as means more space is available…..the delight on her face when she saw the ambulance, and her thrill at adding yet another would-be street OAP to her family, is so obvious.
While we talked, she just started singing (and she’s very loud!) – ‘I don’t have silver, I don’t have gold, I don’t have treasure: but I have Jesus, the greatest treasure’…. Three hulking great Brit men, and a similar Mexican man, plus Katie, just sat there, weeping…
I think yesterday, more than ever, I recognised just how much this amazing, happy, smiling love-filled woman has totally and completely sacrificed her life for other people – not only that, but other people’s ‘cast-offs’. Her life IS her babies: totally dedicated, fearless, in – as I’ve said before – one of the most dangerous barrios in the most dangerous quarters of the city (Agua Blanca – no white water to be seen there, to be honest! – that’s what it means), Alfonso Bonilla Aragon.
I also didn’t know, until yesterday, that she has a young lad living with her, Christian. He was ‘thrown away’ by his mother at birth, his face was slashed with a knife, and Anabeiba took him in. He’s a happy – I guess – 8-9 year old, living in houses with 70-80 people over 70 years old.
Monday, I meet with the businessman who first introduced me to Anabeiba, a guy named Don Jaime, who hopefully will help dot a few ‘i’s and cross a few ‘t’s where the legal ownership of the new house is concerned, and acquire the new ‘white goods’ so many people so kindly contributed towards. Lee shot a video interview – with Ana this time, Benny translating, and, of course, he took loads of pictures, so as soon as I have them….
In the car on the way back (which was a taxi journey EVERY bit as exhilarating as an Alton Towers/Disney/Thorpe Park ride!!!!), I just felt I have to leave her the funeral money for her lost baby. 400,000 pesos (£150: a fortune to her, and – relatively – peanuts to us), as he can’t be buried until she’s paid.
Please, please… pray for this amazing lady. Jesus looks at you when she looks at you: her eyes huge, brown, compassionate oceans of love. And her hugs…. my neck nearly got broken again yesterday….!