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...not to go to Zimbabwe after all even though I promised my friend and her children?

(41 Posts)
amsterdamster Wed 29-Jun-11 19:57:12

Hi everyone,
Am new here, heard of MN on the grapevine and there seems to be generally good advice on here so thought I would post my current dilemma!
This year I have been to South Africa three times for business and personal reasons, while I was there I met a lady from Zimbabwe - she was renting a room from another friend's uncle and when visiting the uncle me and this lady hit it off straight away, she is very funny and easy to talk to. Her children also warmed to me and they soon started calling me Auntie and I in turn took them to the mall, movies, theme park etc.
A couple of weeks before my last trip there which was about a month ago her mother passed away in Zim and she asked me if I could come to the funeral. I couldn't drop everything what with family and work commitments but I did see her in South Africa during my last visit. She was very keen for me to come to Zim and I agreed I would next time as she seemed in need of comfort and rather lonely in South Africa. I was meant to be going to Amsterdam in two weeks and so thought I would tack the trip on the end alongside a voluntary work course.
However, I'm now rather put off the idea for a few reasons: not only is it a LOT of money for the ticket, she's going to expect me to buy them stuff all the time when I'm over there (the kids actually list presents they want!) and now she's bringing up the lawyer costs of her mum's will $500 which she "doesn't have " and I assume she thinks I will donate...they seem to assume I'm made of money, mean I'm comfortable enough but it's not a bottomless pit! Although I'm happy to help with small bits and bobs I have got my own kids to think of. She also mentioned me being able to help her to "cross" into London/A'dam which under no circumstances do I want to be involved with and that she wants to leave her husband permanently as he's always broke.
How do I get out of this one without disappointing her and her kids? Is that fair to go back on the promise of the Zim trip? Please let me know your thoughts! I don't have to do the work course, so it's easy to get out of, it's only this that's the issue.

LoopyLoopsBettyBoops Wed 29-Jun-11 20:01:15

Either a) send them a few gifts for the kids and call it quits

or b) call it quits.

You are being taken for a ride.

bubblecoral Wed 29-Jun-11 20:01:19

She's taking you for a ride, probably because she feels she needs to, and you are a nice person.

I'm not saying she's not a nice person, she probably is, but she obvioulsly doesn't want you to visit just for the company.

needanewname Wed 29-Jun-11 20:04:47

Sounds like a scam to me and I wouldn;t go.

Bearcrumble Wed 29-Jun-11 20:07:01

Absolutely what the others said. If she was a true friend she wouldn't be shamelessly trying to fleece you.

amsterdamster Wed 29-Jun-11 20:09:12

I think you are all right - I just have a feeling that I don't want to get involved with this one, esp. as large sums of money and passport stuff is being mentioned now.
She was crying to me on the phone earlier saying her husband had pawned her mobile phone and she didn't have one any more..and could I send her my old Blackberry (just had an upgrade)!...Now not sure whether to do a) or b) of the two things mentioned above..

hockeyforjockeys Wed 29-Jun-11 20:11:04

Be blunt. My limited experience of some African cultures (gained from countries in the same region as Zim) is that it is not considered the same dreadful thing to ask for things from somebody else if you think they can afford them. Because of this it is also not considered as rude to flatly turn them down as it is here. I think it comes from the fact that life is lived a bit more on the edge, so you have to do whatever it takes to survive/suceed.

muddleddaizy Wed 29-Jun-11 20:15:13

I wouldnt go. If you want to continue friendship you need to be firm & say explicitly what you will & wont do. Unfortunately its its very common. The perception in southern africa is that westerners are loaded & some people have no shame! I speak from personal experience...

midoriway Wed 29-Jun-11 20:17:25

Jeepers, this woman has gotten her claws into you hasn't she.

It is hard when you travel, and you meet people stuck in the 3rd world, just desperate for the opportunities and access to travel and cash and education that you have. $200 is not much to you, but would make a massive difference to them, etc.

The extent that you help her is going to be determined by the level of affection you have for her. Do you love her to the exclusion of all others, and will do all you can to help her? Is she closer than family? is she a friend who is starting to become a bit demanding? Do you feel a bit used, or do you think, hand on heart, the favour would be returned if the tables were turned?

Ultimately, if you are starting to feel uncomfortable at this woman's demands and neediness, there is nothing wrong with just ruling a line under it, and not returning her calls, or emails. Polite but firm might be the way to go.

Teachermumof3 Wed 29-Jun-11 20:20:25

Blimey-sounds like you are being taken for a ride. I definitely wouldn't go out there-say the trip has been cancelled. I would tell her you are skint (for whatever reason-large tax bill, debts, pay cat etc) and you can't afford the trip/plane costs. If she mentions her mum's lawyers, present for her children, your old phone-just say you'd help her out if you could, but can't afford it. I'd distance myself-don't ring/text all the time.

zipzap Wed 29-Jun-11 20:29:51

What would she say if you were to say 'sorry. Can't afford to visit or pay money or send gifts but it's nice to meet up when I am in SA and to exchange Christmas cards...'

Sounds like you have been set up and as everybody else says all she wants is your money. That she likes talking to you is probably a nice bonus.

If you met somebody in this country who you became a bit friendly with, and she suddenly started to treat you as her best friend and then started to ask for quite large chunks of money, you would run a mile. Think you should do the same here; you don't owe her anything. Keep your money for your kids and enjoy it with them.

I'm sure the lady does have it hard in zim and SA, but it doesn't make you responsible for her and her family. might be worth talking to her and telling her that you are not prepared to support her and see what she says - just be prepared to be strong and not give into and pleadings or threats for money, gifts and visa recommendations!

tazmin Wed 29-Jun-11 20:40:54

have you heard of the ladies of a certain age who go to Turkey/Dominican Republic/some such and fall in "love" with a 20 year old waiter, who then proceeds to expect her to fund his extended family as well as lots of goodies for him.

This is the same
You are being taken for a ride luv. Ignore it from now on.
Or if you want to be taken for a ride, at least go into it with your eyes open

amsterdamster Wed 29-Jun-11 23:22:18

Thank you ladies for all your helpful comments - so glad you agree and am feeling a lot less like I'm being unfair now. I did feel bad when she sent me a lovey goodnight message but I think it's time to call it a day now. I'm not going to cut her off completely because that would be mean but as you say just start to create a little distance.
You made a good point there Tazmin - if it was a man doing this I would never stand for it (I remember a guy in a bar there asking me to "buy him a beer"??) but because it's a friend with kids the same age I feel empathy and naturally don't want them to have a hard time but to be honest there IS nothing much I can do about all the various problems she's having apart from offer emotional comfort - I just feel enough's enough now with all the different requests.
I told her I would aim to see her in a few months once I had a bit more money saved up and now I have two weeks more in Amsterdam...CAN'T WAIT!!

amsterdamster Fri 01-Jul-11 18:41:44

Update on this one - what do you think about this?
I sent a friendly but final sounding text message saying that as much as I'd like to see the kids blah blah blah I simply don't have the money at the moment and can't help with the visa. this was at about 2pm. No answer until 3.30 am, when she called me TWENTY TIMES (!) and then left three messages: the first one claiming that a "true friend" would help her with the visa, the second (verbatim) "so u a no longa comin afta I have told so many people about yo yo however" and the third something about "the kids are crying because Auntie Whitey can't come any more" - am I right not to be particularly keen on this nickname, I mean I would never address anyone along racial lines and although I completely understand they have been historically disadvantaged it's not a form of address that fills me with joy -?
I ignored it until about 12 o'clock today after she called 9 times this morning and sent a final message "pliz give money today this is the last time i ask you money will never here me callin you again reply". So I finally called while in the hairdresser knowing I'd have an excuse to go quickly and reiterated what I said. She then told me it was "over between us" (not too sure about all this romantic style language?) So MNers, I guess I should assume this friendship was based on money! Oh well, another one of life's experiences.

amsterdamster Fri 01-Jul-11 18:42:49

By the way the messages she left were all text messages - when she calls she drops immediately and expects me to call back!

LoopyLoopsBettyBoops Fri 01-Jul-11 18:43:44

OMG ignore her!

minipie Fri 01-Jul-11 18:46:28

Well guess you've found out what she was really after!

I'd get her number blocked if I were you.

iwanttoseethezoo Fri 01-Jul-11 18:47:23

Sounds like she was only your friend when you were dishing out the cash. Sad, but better you find out now than after you get fleeced or in trouble for helping with visas etc. No doubt she'll find someone else to latch on to soon...

amsterdamster Fri 01-Jul-11 18:50:39

minipie how do I get her number blocked? I also thought the same. And you know what iwanttoseethezoo, that's exactly what I was worried about most of all, getting in trouble with helping her with the visa issue - main reason I felt I had to cut it off (as she was also asking me to bring copies of my passport, bank statements etc to Zim for the embassy!) Even if it did work, what if she disappeared here and didn't go back and I was somehow to blame!

sweetness86 Fri 01-Jul-11 18:52:32

Wow yes think you were just £££ signs to her its a shame but you did what you could call it a lucky escape!

ExitPursuedByAKitten Fri 01-Jul-11 18:55:59

Think you have hit the nail on the head in your last post - if you had got her over here she would have disappeared and left you to face the music. Well done for telling her no.

minipie Fri 01-Jul-11 18:56:23

Call your phone company - they should be able to sort it.

ExitPursuedByAKitten Fri 01-Jul-11 18:56:40

grin at Aunty Whitey. Can you imagine the outrage if she had been Aunty Blacky?

amsterdamster Fri 01-Jul-11 19:08:44

Exactly! I mean I've always been very colour blind and encouraged the same with the kids, so I'm not quite sure how to process that one (unless Aunty Whitey was considered a compliment - in SA they do sometimes shout out "umlungu" (white person) after you in the street, not sure if this is derogatory or not?)
Thanks for letting me know will try it with O2 tomorrow!

amsterdamster Fri 01-Jul-11 23:19:44

Mutual acquaintance now tells me she gambles a lot - ooh indeed a lucky escape!

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