Storytellers – Lenuta Hellen Nadolu

Give Me Courage Book Cover-250wStorytellers resumed in the refurbished Top Room on Tuesday 18th August. The presenter for the evening was guest Lenuta Hellen Nadolu, a friend of Storyteller regular Judith Pearson. Considering that there had been a break for a couple of months and that it was still Winter, a very good attendance of about 60 was recorded which was excellent. With many of our regulars already departed for another ‘Swampy organised swim’ in Europe, it was heartening to see so many people, quite a number being family and friends of Hellen.

Hellen talked about her first book “Give me Courage”, an inspiring true story of survival and escape. Hellen broke her story into: Part 1 – Introduction, Part 2 – My Childhood, My Grandma, Cluj (Cluj-Napoca, commonly known as Cluj, is the second most populous city in Romania, after the national capital Bucharest, and the seat of Cluj County in the north-western part of the country), My Mother and Father, Part 3 – Meeting Victor, Part 4 – Marriage and Ghana, Part 5 – Infidelity and Divorce, Part 6 – Romania and Racism, and finally Part 7 – Australia.

Hellen Nadulo Early School YaersHellen’s story was most powerful. A strong-willed free spirit, she was born and raised in communist Romania, where women were supposed to know their place.  At the age of nineteen, her life changed when she started seeing a handsome African doctor named Victor and fell pregnant.

To avoid the wrath of Hellen’s domineering father and an unforgiving community, the couple married and then, against everyone’s advice, moved to Ghana.  But Africa was nothing like Hellen had imagined: Victor considered her merely a possession with few rights and expected her to turn a blind eye to his affairs.

Pushed to the brink, she made a desperate decision – she would get a divorce and smuggle her three children out of the country.
But no Western woman had ever divorced a Ghanaian man – let alone been granted custody of the children – and Victor’s powerful family would not give her up without a fight …Hellen Nadulo and Childrenildren-650

One of the challenges for the evening was for Hellen to condense her book where every word is considered and important into a presentation where time is limited. She succeeded in keeping everyone’s interest but ran out of time to allow for more than a couple of questions which was a shame. One question that Hellen was able to respond to was:

Q. Please elaborate about making friends and a career in Australia

“Tonight among us is one of the most generous, kind hearted lady Thea Foster. I call her our Angel! I met Thea in Crows Nest through my work, she was my client. She barely knew me when she asked me to come and live in her house just around the corner from where I was working. I knew I could not afford renting a place in Lower North Shore, I needed to save money for children airfares but Thea insisted that the following evening she will pick me up from Coogee Hostel, where I was living. Thea helped me carry my two suitcases, my only assets. A few months after I moved in, The brand new kitchen was on fire! I forgot my wax pot on the stove and before I knew the kitchen was covered in flame. I picked up the cat and in my nighty covered in smoke I run downstairs out on the street shouting Fire, Fire! By the time Thea arrived the fire brigade managed to have the fire under control and the only words Thea said to me ” is good that you and cat are fine, don’t worry about the kitchen!” we now laugh about it!
Whenever we needed a guarantor, Thea was always the one and there were no limits to what she will do for us. Many years ago my daughter Elsie needed a guarantor for almost $300,000.00 to buy her business. Thea had her own home as guarantee for Elsie business. Thank you Thea for your generosity not only towards us but towards the children you did foster.”

We gave a round of thanks to Hellen for her well prepared presentation accompanied with plenty of family photos. It was pleasing to see her two daughters Nancy and Elsie, and son William present, all of whom have made successes of their lives in Australia.

The following links maybe of interest if you want to learn more about Hellen’s story:

SMH – How Lenuta Hellen Nadolu fled a tumultous life in two countries

RN – Conversations with Richard Fidler Australia’s most sought-after radio interview opportunity (an hour-long national profile spot):

RN – Life Matters Hellen Nadolu: Give me courage

The Daily Mail: Meet the mother of three mixed raced children who fled two countries before arriving in Australia with less than $50

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