Dubai Just last week, Teresa Godlewska, an 81-year-old Dubai resident, was penniless and homeless. But hours after XPRESS published her story on its cover last Thursday, she was faced with a problem of plenty.
From a Shaikh who offered her an empty villa on his estate to a 32-year-old African who asked her to share an Al Barsha studio, the overwhelming generosity of UAE residents, most of them complete strangers, has left the Polish expatriate speechless. One family from Sharjah even wanted her to move in with them to “be our grandmother”.
“It’s unbelievable how people have opened their doors and hearts to me. It makes me cry. Thank you XPRESS and thank you all good-hearted people who helped me in my predicament,” said a visibly moved Godlewska.
An art consultant whose antiques and framing business ran out, Godlewska had appealed for shelter, claiming she had nowhere to go and no family to turn to. But as it turns out, there is no dearth of help in the UAE.
On Tuesday, Godlewska said she was still attending to the flood of mails and calls pouring in from not just friends, former bosses and work associates but also complete strangers. “I can’t believe that there are people who without knowing me are so full of consideration. Indians, Pakistanis, Filipinos, Emiratis, Americans, Polish – these people come from different backgrounds and nationalities.”
One of the many letters sent to XPRESS earlier said: “I am ready to help this old lady as I have no mother … she can stay with me as long as she wants.”
An Indian technician from Abu Dhabi said: “Here I am living with my family (my wife and 15-year-old son). I am ready to give her a space in my small house and also my care. But I do not know the legal consequences.”
A woman in Dubai said: “This lovely lady used to live behind my compound. Please let her know that if she receives no better offers, she is most welcome to stay in our maid’s room until she finds something more suitable.”
Godlewska said a half Polish woman from Sharjah offered her a room and wanted her to drive her son around. “But I couldn’t take responsibility for a little child on the roads by myself.”
She said she is very grateful to a Shaikh who has offered her a villa on his estate - with a housemaid - just as she is to everyone else who reached out to her. “Someday, I would like to meet all these wonderful people and thank them personally.”
She said a former boss at an art gallery asked her why she had gone to the press when she only needed to call him and ask for help.
She said she had decided to take up the offer of Mona Hauser, owner of the XVA Art Gallery, to move into a guesthouse at Bastakiya from September. “Mona was the first to call me. She has offered me a lovely room with an attached bathroom and I am moving my stuff there.”
She said she is currently living in the residence of Alison Collins, owner of the Majlis Art Gallery, who has also asked her to stay as she long as she wanted.
“But I do not wish to overstay. In fact, I plan to move out of the Bastakiya guesthouse too as soon as I am able to manage on my own.”
She said she has received some cash donations as well – from €100 by a Polish stewardess to Dh10,000 by the owner of a spa in Dubai.
“I feel so relieved. I have already renewed my trade licence with this money and will open a stall at the Dubai International Art Centre. I am a different person now – from miserable last week to euphoric today.”
“It’s unbelievable how people have opened their doors and hearts to me. It makes me cry. Thank you XPRESS and thank you UAE”