Eva* had come to us a long time ago to do physio with us. She had only managed to do exercises for her neck, and she could only walk with difficulty. She was of retirement age, had never married, and until recently she had been doing cleaning work. Eva used to clean the corridors in our building. She had grown tough over the years, having lived a hard life. Her father had put an axe through her knee when she was young, and she had walked with a limp, a scar, and a non-bending knee ever since. Eva had a daughter Neda*. Not long-ago Neda had gone to Germany, where she found work and formally emigrated. Now, Eva is all alone here in the city.
Anna* from our Hope and Health staff told Eva that she could be connected with her daughter on Facebook. This was new to Eva, who did not have internet.
“Look”, said Anna, “Here is your daughter! Look at the pictures!”
These were the first pictures Eva had seen of her daughter in Germany. We were making connections. Anna then took a picture with Eva and put it online for Neda to see. Eva cried again as she saw photos of her son-in-law for the first time.
This was the first time that Anna had seen Eva cry. Eva had been a fixture in the building for years, ever since we had opened our centre. Eva had become hardened, and she did not let down her guard. This was the first time she had opened up to the staff like this.
The Covid-19 pandemic made it hard for our Hope & Health staff to live out the “hope” or psycho-social side of the project. Participants would be afraid to stay long at the centre, and afraid for their families. They would come into the centre for massage or exercises and go home as soon as possible. Now we tell women that they can stay. Some are still afraid and wear masks. This recent encounter with Eva reminds us of the wider scope of our work which goes beyond technical health support, to touching body, soul, and spirit.
Eva treats us like her family. She does not have anyone else.