Ellen Rich creates ad copy
in London, England. On a recent holiday in Tunisia, she was cared
for by a modern-day angel - one she and her husband will never forget.
This is Ellen's story...
discovered I was pregnant...
Two days before my husband
Bob and I left for our Tunisian holiday, I discovered I was
pregnant. My doctor reassured me that travel would not pose
a problem. She was almost right.
After a wonderful week
in the sun, my cramps began the day before we were to return
to London. Then, I began to bleed slightly. By the next morning,
both my pain and panic had increased and the hotel doctor
directed Bob and me to a clinic.
After much gesturing
of hands and a combination of broken French and English, I
was admitted, then pretty much left to suffer in a small sterile
looking room. Eventually, the doctor on call paid us a visit.
She was young, no older
than I. Happily, she spoke some English along with her French
and we were able to communicate without too much effort. She
explained to me that she would like to treat me in her private
downtown office--it would be easier. She called her husband
and, with him and her young daughter in the car, we were driven
to the city. On route, she introduced herself properly as
Dr. Safia Zemni.
I wept in her arms.
She examined me and then confirmed my fears - yes, I was,
in fact, miscarrying. She recommended that I not fly back
to England as planned. It was too dangerous!
I burst into tears whimpering
over and over again, "I just want to go home."
"Don't worry," she kept
saying. I am here. I am your sister. I will take care of you.
I wept soundlessly in
her arms. She prepared some mild painkillers, gave me her
cell phone number, drove me back to the hotel and promised
to check with me that evening.
Within a couple of hours
the bleeding increased and my pain became unbearable. I called
Safia on her cellular phone. She explained that she was over
two hours away but she was turning her car around and heading
back to the clinic. Bob and I were to meet her there.
held my hand...
point, it became pretty much a blur of pain and panic. After
what seemed like a very long time, I opened my eyes to find
Safia standing there, the same warm compassionate look on
her face. She held my hand while I suffered through an internal
scan and then she poured over the results. Evidently, she
felt that the worse was not over and she had me admitted into
the hospital. As I drifted in and out of sleep, Safia sat
by my bed, telling Bob and me stories about Tunisia, her past,
and her attitudes towards medicine.
I woke the next morning
to discover I had miscarried fully, and thankfully, the pain
was finally gone. Safia discharged me and drove me back to
the hotel. Before returning to work, she asked whether Bob
and I would be interested in joining her and her husband for
dinner that evening. Obviously, she was intent on keeping
our minds off of our loss.
talked of life and family...
With the help of the
hotel, we arranged for a huge bouquet of flowers. Using my
limited French to explain our sentiments, I composed a card
for my modern-day angel.
When Safia and her husband
arrived at the hotel bar that evening, my husband and I were
already waiting, the flowers hidden behind a chair. And, just
when I thought that this wonderful woman could not possibly
do anything more to amaze or impress us, I saw that she was
holding a gift -wrapped package in her hands.
"For you," she said simply.
I reached behind me
and pulled out the bouquet. "And for you," I said.
Our eyes met-- the bond
of sisterhood so real, so potent. We laughed and wiped our
eyes. I opened her gift-- a traditional Tunisian coffee pot
and an ornate little mirror in the shape of a hand.
"So you always see who
you are," she explained.
During that last evening
together, the four of us talked of life, love, happiness,
tradition, family - everything. Our hosts took us on a tour
of the oldest and most beautiful parts of the city, culminating
in a walk through an old port.
They drove us back to
our hotel and we said our good-byes, exchanging addresses
and phone numbers and promising to stay in touch. Sofia and
I embraced, holding each other tightly, my gratitude to her
beyond words. She stroked my back and nodded...no words necessary.
With a wave, she was gone.
kindness of strangers...
Have you ever been in a travel situation where you required
help? Has someone recognized your need and gone out of their
way to help and solve your problem. We'd love to hear your
mini stories (up to 150) words. Please send your tale to:
and put the words, 'kindness of strangers' in the subject
box. We'll post your email right here.
A guide to the theatre in
My girlfriend and I were in New York trying to find our way
to a small theatre for that evening's performance. We stopped
a woman on a street corner. She was an Australian doctor who
was studying in the USA. 'Yes, I know that theater,' she said.
'I was there this afternoon for the matinee. C'mon, I have
time, I'll take you there.' And she did. With her help we
arrived on time and had the lovely benefit of chatting with
her and learning her story as we made our way to our destination.
Evelyn, Toronto, Canada
In the wake of Katrina...
Trapped and scared in New Orleans, the staff of the Frenchman
hotel treated my husband and I like family and they rode out
the whole ordeal with all of their guests. Once the storm
passed everyone stayed at the LaMothe (sister hotel). Restaurant
owners opened up to help feed those that were trapped in the
city, and the people making ice at the shop kept running on
generators. Strangers banded together for safety, and civilians
worked together to create order where there wasn’t any.
We all did our part and helped out in any small way we could.
The kindness of people kept us safe, and it was kindness that
helped us on a bus to Houston. I would personally like to
thank every man, woman and child who ever handed us a bottle
of water, a handful of food, or said those wonderful words
that gave us hope.
Marcy, Waterloo, Canada
On the way to a job interview...
In Turkey, on my way to a plum job interview, my skirt got
caught on a car bumper. It tore from the lower leg up to my
thigh before I realized what had happened. Frustrated and
overwhelmed, I stood on the street and bawled. I had been
searching for the address for almost an hour, and this was
the final straw. Out of nowhere, this couple appeared. Taking
me gently by the arm, they led me into a nearby apartment
building doorway. The security guard sat me down, brought
me a damp cloth to wipe my face, while the couple stitched
up the tear in my skirt. They dropped me off at the proper
address, and I couldn't have thanked them enough. Amen to
the 'kindness of strangers.'
Holly, Montreal, Canada