Meeting A Man On The Street In Maputo

We were in Africa a few years ago. In Maputo, Mozambique we were staying at this hotel near the ocean. Early on the morning we were to leave I ran across a guy that was meandering in the yard. We struck up a conversation. He appeared to be about 50 – 55 years old, about my age at the time. His name was Dudek.

When he found out I was from the US he asked me to do him a favor. Mind you, he didn’t ask for money, like almost everyone there did.

Story goes like this:

His family was from Ethiopia. Being so poor his many brothers and sisters had scattered all over the world. He had a sister in Washington DC and a brother in Dallas.

Dudek was dying of a liver disease. He wanted me to contact them to see if they could help him get medical assistance. He hadn’t seen either in 15 or 20 years. He didn’t have any other information to give me other than their names.

We exchanged phone numbers and addresses. We soon packed up and left Maputo.

A few day later when I got back home I began my quest to find his siblings. I actually tracked down his sister first. She worked for the federal government and had married a doctor. They lived in an affluent area it near Washington DC. When I first called her, I had to do some coaxing to get her to talk to me. I’m sure she thought it was just another scam. After she loosened up we talked for a long time. She told me the story of how hard life had been and how fortunate she was to come to America. She took the information about her brother down and said she would call him but gave several hints that she was reluctant to give monetary help. She didn’t explain herself on that very well. Other than that, Dudek had been the lifelong scammer and she didn’t really believe everything he said.

I bought his story completely because his skin was yellow and he hadn’t asked me for money.

I was able to find an address for the brother in North Dallas, but had been unable to find a phone number. The sister gave me the Dallas brothers phone number. I called him and explained the story. He was working for some sort of African Ministry in Dallas.

I got a warmer reception from him but I wasn’t sure he was going to help either. So I got in the car and drove to Dallas. We arraigned to meet up at a Starbucks. We had a nice two hour visit. He told me his family’s story of coming to the United States. It was pretty amazing too.

It seems that some 20 years before he and the sister had made all the arraignments for Dudek to come to the US, at considerable cost and effort. At the last minute he wouldn’t come. He had a change of heart. He had fallen in love and didn’t want to leave this girl behind. That was the beginning of the estrangement.

After our meeting I continued to stay in contact with the brother. Everything fell apart for getting help for the sick brother when they wanted him to come to the US for treatment but he wanted them to send money to Africa for treatment.

During this whole time, several months, Dudek and I would talk on the phone and I’d give him updates on my conversations with his siblings and we would just visit. We talked probably once a week. I had his number programmed in my phone and I suppose he did the same.

I could tell things were getting worse for him. Then one day the phone calls stopped. I could no longer get an answer when I called.

Sometime later I got a mysterious package from him.

It had been on a long journey. It had several postmarks and writing on it. It was evidently on a very slow boat over here.

In it was a photo of he and his family. They were really dressed up and were a very attractive couple.

There was nothing written just the picture. Maybe it was his way of showing me that there had been happier times in life for him and there was a reason he hadn’t left either time to come to this country.

Sadly that was the end of this story.

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