never too old to drive: Teresa Godlewska recently got her driving licence renewed till 2022

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.”

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.”

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 editor@xpress4me.com