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Polish expatriate woman homeless in Dubai

81-year-old Polish expatriate seeks way out of abysmal situation, claims she has no money or family to turn to

  • By Sharmila Dhal, 
Senior Reporter
  • Published: 22:15 August 1, 2012

  • Image Credit:
  • never too old to drive: Teresa Godlewska recently got her driving licence renewed till 2022
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Dubai An 81-year-old art consultant in Dubai is desperately seeking work and a roof over her head, claiming she is destitute and has no family to turn to.

Polish expatriate Teresa Godlewska told XPRESS: “I am homeless, penniless and destitute. I have nowhere to go. Please, someone help me. I just want a small room - maybe even a servant room - where I can do my little living.”

As I have no place to live in my homeland and no family to ask for help, I really have no way to survive. I even have no money to buy a ticket to leave

Teresa Godlewska

In a desperate e-mail message sent earlier, she said: “As I have no place to live in my homeland and no family to ask for help, I really have no way to survive. I even have no money to buy a ticket to leave. As my visa is valid until February 2013, the only solution will be to live at the airport. If you would like to know more about me, Google will tell you.”

Fairly well-known in Dubai art circles, Godlewska owns an antiques, restoration and framing boutique called Tarmeem World. But she said she was forced to shut shop as business ran out. “I have had no business in the past one year. I have lost all my money and my savings have depleted. I know there are people in far worse condition. But the only difference is that they have families to turn to. I don’t have anyone.”

'Disowned by family'

Godlewska claimed her family has disowned her and she has been living in the UAE since 1978. “I was working with a German company in Iraq earlier and when my contract ended, I could not go back to Poland because my family disowned me. So I took up a job in Abu Dhabi before moving to Dubai in 1989.”

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She said distant relatives from Poland had given her a room in their villa in Satwa where she lived all these years. But ever since they relocated to France in June she had been rendered homeless. Currently living in the house of a friend, she said: “They are away in the UK and were kind enough to let me stay. But I have to move out by September 10 when they return.”

Staring into a blank future, she said: “I do not know where to go or what to do.”

A child of the Second World War, Godlewska said she had come a long way but never imagined she would end up as a destitute at 81. Having done a lot of charity work over the years, she said she never dreamt that she would be in need of charity herself.

“I am a child of war. At a time when young girls were not safe, I walked around pretending to be a boy. When I was 13, I remember my mother shaved my hair and dressed me up like a man. I was her only child.”

“But everyone makes mistakes,” she said, recalling how a bad marriage at the age of 16 ended up in divorce at 19, by which time she had also left her nine-month-old infant son to be raised by her mother. “I was away studying and not a good mother. I regret that.”

As she completed her studies with a degree in economics, statistics and tourism, followed by a diploma in antiques, the distance between her and her family grew until it reached a point of no return. Her mother has passed away and she has no contact with her son, she said.

Godlewska said Dubai is the only home she has known for the past 35 years. “By the grace of God, I keep good health and even got my driving licence renewed for 10 years recently.My licence is valid till 5.7.2022,” she said. She drives a 1992 BMW which she claimed she bought secondhand for Dh6,000 four years ago.

“I have an offer to sell it for Dh5,000 but how long will that last me? I know I can still work and fend for myself. I can look after cats and dogs as I am very good with them. All I am asking is please help me find some work and a roof over my head.”

If you wish to help Teresa, write to us at

Comments (15)

Share your views
  1. Added 15:24 August 2, 2012

    I believe the consulate is responsible for the well-being of their citizens and they should do something about her condition. Another ugly truth is that we have so many people who are filthy rich but wouldn't care at all and they fail to understand it's all God given

    Yasir, Chennai, India

  2. Added 13:38 August 2, 2012

    5000 AED for selling the BMW will get her a one-way ticket home. How is it that people can stay here having no job? If my company fires me or makes my position redudent, they physically escort me all the way to the airport boarding gate and cancel my residence visa immediately! The same when I reach age 65. It's GET OUT and go home. And writing to the media won't change that one bit.

    Louie Tedesco, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 13:37 August 2, 2012

    Mostly beggars are from Asian countries, and they are deported, But if someone from europe america or other western countries have a problem its a corporate issue , Why this discrimination against Asians. I have seen plenty of times airport staff talking disparagingly to Asian nationals, but when a westerner comes along they will talk with respect. What wrong have Asian nationals done? Dubai is one of the best cities in the world, but always remember the hands of those who made this city by the Grace of Allah are mostly Asians. Have you ever seen any westerners working on the roads in 45+ Degree temperature or doing any construction job in the UAE?

    hassan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 13:19 August 2, 2012

    it's really touching story to the life......... i am ready to help her as much as i can....... as i have seen, UAE is the great place with great people and there will be some one who will come to take care of her!!!! you may contact me if i could be helpful to You Mrs. Teresa Godlewska/editor@express

    akit, abu dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 10:27 August 2, 2012

    I wonder why these kinda news arises only during the month of Ramadan. At one end we are helping the police to find the beggars who are homeless and needs help and on the other hand we are publicly announcing the homeless people that needs help.

    Jazz, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 10:25 August 2, 2012

    The story proves once again that individualism is no substitute for family and social relationship. When you are young and healthy you may find relationships a hindrance to your advancement. But all good things have to come to and end and that is when you feel the value of strong bonds. Hope and pray some kind heart would come forward to offer her a roof over her head and means to meet her essential requirements!

    Joseph Kainikkara, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 09:44 August 2, 2012

    plz u contact with polish embassy in dubai or abu dhabi...they can help u

    muhammad, jasim, India

  8. Added 09:14 August 2, 2012

    i felt so sad about her, if i can only give her shelter and stay in our home. I hope that a home for the aged or institution in UAE will give shelter to people like her who don't have family to live with and since she also has already spent half of her life in this country. With her age she should be not working, instead she should be taken care of. I just realized one thing that I am still blessed and should not ask for more because there are still people who are less privileged than I do. May God help her, and I will pray for her that someone will take care of her.

    Fate, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 08:20 August 2, 2012

    Poor Grandma....I feel so sad reading about her plight in the morning ... I would help her if i was rich enough

    Waseem Ahmed, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 07:32 August 2, 2012

    Calling the attention of Ambassador A. Krzymowski. Please help this old lady.

    genn, Abu Dhabi, Philippines

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