Part 2: Welcome to Africa (1930-1949)
Ala, her mom and Brother was on a ship en-route to South Africa. Severe storms veered their path towards Beira, Mozambique where they disembarked in what seemed to be paradise while the ship continued its course and dropped the other orphans in Oudtshoorn. Many later created wonderful lives for themselves in Johannesburg, Cape Town & Durban. Their journey took them to Lusaka.
This was Ala’s first encounter with the bushveld. And what a sight to behold! African culture was sure to get its claws into this family and tested their culinary capacity with delicacies such as marmalade, mieliepap and stew. Ala and Janusz still preferred pierogis.
They were fortunate enough to attend a high school in Southern Rhodesia after passing a rigorous entrance exam. The school was a picture-perfect setting built among the rocks.
After passing matric (Grade 12) Ala’s mother sent her to a convent outside of Lusaka to learn English. However, with the concentration of Polish girls not too much English were spoken but over the 5 years amazing friendships were formed.
Poverty was rife and many girls turned to prostitution which gave the convent a bad name. The British government was to close all refugee camps in Africa and the girls had a choice to be transferred to a few countries across the globe. One of which was Poland but many were scared to return because of all the vivid memories. The once thriving country was brought to its knees and it was unknown to many if it would be safe to return.
The other alternative was to find employment and those people were allowed to stay in Africa.
The choice was simple. The sunshine and untouched bushveld called to Ala and they decided to stay.
Friends in Livingstone invited the family to move there and Ala settled on becoming a nanny in an English home. The Parkhurst family she was placed with was absolutely wonderful with their 3 children but the English communication barrier proved to be more difficult than anticipated. However, she was adamant to improve and used newspapers and the dictionary to help her become socially “un-awkward”. The work was difficult at times when she was made to feel more than a servant than a part of the family. Ala’s self-confidence took a knock.
An opportunity to work in a bakery presented itself and Ala put her heart and soul into the interview. It was a pleading Ala who convinced the owner that she would be suitable for the position. Adulthood was looming and the Parkhurst family was very supportive and wished her well on her journey ahead. Hard work, loyalty and honesty paid off and after a few years and new owners took over, Ala became the manager. She won back her freedom and it surpassed any expectations she had. At last, a new life was looming and she was excited. Little was she to know, exactly what was coming…
To be continued…