I found this article about Mbali Nkosi, a fifteen-year-old girl from Dube, South Africa who vanished without a trace seven months ago. She went to the grocery store and never came back. Later that day her mom, Zodwa, got a (text?) message saying “please call me.” She did, and Mbali said “Mama” and then the line went dead and she was never heard from again. Reminds me of Maria De Los Angeles Martinez. Or Diane Augat.
Mbali’s sixteenth birthday was on February 7. The article says, “Her disappearance has since affected Zodwa, who was admitted at Chris Hani-Baragwanath Academic Hospital.” From that sentence I’m not sure if it was depression or just health problems caused/exacerbated by stress. I checked the hospital website and it doesn’t have a psychiatry/behavioral health department listed. It is, in any case, very sad.
There have been anonymous calls from people saying they saw Mbali, and one wanted 1000 South African rands (about $123) to reveal her whereabouts. Her father arranged to meet up with the man, but he never showed. I looked up her name on Google and found several people with that name, but most of the results weren’t about this Mbali. I did find this article written shortly after her disappearance. She was a Grade 9 student at Orlando West High School in Soweto, and was considering a career in nursing.
It sounds as if Mbali might have been forced into prostitution. I certainly hope not. I know the crime rate in South Africa is very high — as is the HIV infection rate, which Wikipedia says is at 18.10% compared to .60% in America.
Today I had my bimonthly visit to my psychiatrist, Dr. Bruno. They were running an hour late, which was extremely annoying; good thing I had no other plans. If I charged him the waiting time he’d wind up owing ME money. Anyway, I told him about the I-Match program and how much better I feel now, even though I still have the Headache. I talked about how before, my headache pain would get so bad sometimes that I wanted to kill myself — this happened twice in the month of January, for example.
“You shouldn’t say that,” he said. “You will get yourself in trouble. I’m a psychiatrist, you know.”
“But you understand,” I said, and he said yes. We know each other well enough that I can talk about suicidal thoughts with him without being automatically thrown in the hospital. (And incidentally, I haven’t had any since I’ve gone into the program.)
Dr. Bruno was very curious and asked all sorts of questions about what sort of stuff they did at I-Match, and did I have to sleep there, or what. It turns out his curiosity wasn’t idle: at the end of my visit he revealed that he had another patient with severe chronic back pain who’d been recommended for the I-Match’s counterpart, literally just across the hall, their three-week general pain management program based on the same model and run by the same people. He said his patient was “whining” about how she didn’t want to go away for three whole weeks, etc.
“Tell her what my friends told me,” I said, “that she’s probably already lost three weeks and more in pain days. It’s an investment.” I gave him my official permission to share with that woman my story and how much pain I was in and how thus far I have benefited immensely. He said he would. I hope he can convince her to go. I would count it as a good deed on my part if my story would help persuade her.