Update on Tenele-Bell

Not much has happened, while much has happened. I have been avoiding updating you on Tenele because I didn’t feel like there was much to write about. There’s seemingly no progress, and sometimes I feel like my energy in this is worthless. Sometimes I feel like I should be doing so much more, but I honestly just don’t know what else to do. I feel trapped…limited…frustrated…and disappointed…disappointed with Tenele, but mostly with myself and my lack of progress in this whole situation. I know it’s not a problem that can be solved in a short time, but it just seems so hopeless. I know I shouldn’t feel hopeless, but with her situation and living environment…that’s just how I feel. So here’s the update…

Thembi, a teacher I worked with two years ago who also knows Tenele, offered to take Tenele into her house starting in January. Her offer is brilliant and I can hardly believe the offer is true, because really the best two ways to help Tenele is to 1) get her in school and 2) get her out of her living environment. As long as she lives where she is, she won’t change. So, the three of us (Thembi, Tenele, and I) all met to briefly talk about this.
(Thembi and I outside her house)
Tenele seemed excited with the idea of living with Thembi, and when I pulled her aside to ask her about it later she said she was willing and would like to live with her. I would pay for Tenele’s food and any toiletry type things she would need in order not to burden Thembi (who is not financially stable enough to support someone else). The idea is fabulous, especially because Thembi is an amazing woman whom I truly trust. Thembi is the one who is helping me arrange getting Tenele into school and also suggested Tenele should see a counselor. Thembi wants Tenele to go to some counseling sessions before she would move in to live with her, which is a very intelligent decision. So, at our meeting, we settled three things: 1) Tenele would school at Nazarine—a school that has a primary and secondary school along with a college of nursing and college of teaching; it’s an expensive school, but one that Tenele needs because she needs to be motivated with a future plan/dream; she wants to be a nurse, so this would be perfect for her; 2) she would meet with a counselor—my good friend has her degree in counseling so I asked Tenele if she would be willing to meet with her, since I trust her, and Tenele agreed; and 3) live with Thembi starting in January. So this all looks good on paper and brilliant in my thoughts, but in all practicality it’s quite a different story.

Tenele never showed up to meet the counselor. In fact, after that meeting, she didn’t show up for two weeks. She finally came to me a little over two weeks ago, and when I asked her why she didn’t come before as planned, all she could do was avoid looking me in the eyes and said, “Sorry, Mary-Kate, sorry, sorry.” I asked her again about the counselor but she politely declined. A part of me sank, but another part of me was glad she actually told me the truth rather than what I “want” to hear, because I feel like many times she just says things that she thinks I want to hear, when in all reality, I just WANT to hear the truth.

We are QUICKLY running out of time to get her into any school for next year. After Tenele finally came, we arranged to meet again on Thursday to talk with Thembi about actually going to the school and trying to get her enrolled at Nazarine. Thursday rolled around… no Tenele. I wasn’t surprised. In fact, I would probably have been more surprised if she had shown up. Friday morning I received a call from home about the passing of my grandpa, so 24 hours later I was on a plane home for the week. I tried calling Tenele before I left, but her phone was dead. I texted her in hopes she would still meet with Thembi while I was gone. Thembi promised to try to get in contact with her.

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