Woman reunited with family after missing for 44 years

03 Sep 2013 07:40
MASHARE, 03 SEP (NAMPA)- A 56-year-old woman who had gone missing for 44 years has been reunited with her family, putting to rests fears and thoughts among most family members that she had died long ago.
In a dramatic event characterised by emotions of joy and disbelief, Maria Sipopa Mbendeka finally saw her father and some siblings for the first time since 1969 at the Mashare village, situated 45km east of Rundu on Monday.
Mbendeka had left her home village of Simanya - situated some 150km west of Rundu in the Kavango West region - when she was 12-years-old.
She was taken into neighbouring Angola by a certain Portuguese man so that she could go and play with that man’s four children, whom he left with from Namibia.
Maria returned to her family with seven children, of whom the oldest is 38, all fathered by the same Portuguese man.
Some family members travelled a distance of over 160km from Rundu to the Katwitiwi border post shared with Angola to receive their forgotten family member as she crossed into Namibia.
Mbendeka’s mother, Yintumba Mbendeka, gave consent to the Portuguese man’s proposal of taking her daughter to Angola, but this was without the knowledge of her father Augustinus Mbendeka, who was working in Gobabis at the time.
Maria Sipopa Mbendeka’s father Augustinus Mbendeka was over the moon to see his daughter alive after searching without success, writing several letters and making continuous announcements to different provinces in Angola to trace her whereabouts.
Augustinus Mbendeka told reporters on Monday that the civil war experienced in Angola for many years also made it difficult for him to trace his daughter, as it was also unsafe to visit that country due to that unrest.
He said news that his daughter was still alive somewhere in Angola’s Wambu province was received last year after Maria also came across people from Namibia in Angola, whom she asked whether they knew about her father known as Mbendeka.
Luckily, the group of Namibian men knew the person the woman was talking about, and they are the ones who helped establish contact between the father and his long-lost daughter.
Augustinus Mbendeka, a leprosy sufferer, thanked God for what he termed a ‘miracle’, and called on people to believe in God and his gospel as they make the impossible possible.
The visibly emotional Maria, who was accompanied by her 33-year-old third-oldest son Erigues Neves born in Angola, narrated to reporters while shedding tears that she never expected to find her father alive.
Her mother, however, died in 2010, but she only learnt this upon her reunification with the family members.
Maria, who only speaks Angolan languages, only remembers four of her father’s eight children, as the other four were born in her absence.
She explained that she plans to stay a week with her family here, after which she will go back to Angola to make arrangements to come back and stay much longer.
As the family was being reunited, villagers and neighbours of the Mbendekas flocked to the house to witness the woman whom other family members forgot about and declared dead.
(NAMPA)
OH/TK