Just before the holidays, Leonard Mawora found himself in a horrible situation. He couldn’t eat or sleep. All he could do was think about his passport, a U.K. visa, and a Canadian student visa.
Mawora, a business student from Zimbabwe, is attending Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland. He was getting ready to travel home before the holidays when he realized they were gone.
After trashing his apartment as he tore through everything, even the garbage, looking for them, he realized what must have happened.
The Returned Duffel Bag
Mawora eventually remembered what he’d done. In preparation for a trip home for the holidays, he purchased two bags to use as luggage from a local Winners.
He had already started packing when he realized he didn’t need both, so he returned one—a black, Guess duffel bag. The problem? He had tucked his most important papers into that bag before returning it. And a trip back to Winners led to more bad news for the 26-year-old. The bag had been sold again.
Mawora Issues a Public Plea
There wasn’t much or even anything Winners could or would do to help. In an email exchange with the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), they said they felt terrible about the situation.
“We fervently hope that a good Samaritan will find and return the documentation.”
However, there was nothing they could/would do to track the item.
That meant that Mawora had to step up his own attempts to find out where the bag ended up. To that end, he spent days on the phone hoping to connect with anyone he thought might be able to assist. He went public, asking for help.
“If people could just check their bags, maybe my passport is in there somewhere. Right now, I’m stuck.”
To add to his troubled feelings, his journey back to Zimbabwe wasn’t just about having a merry holiday with his family. His younger brother had died, and he was going home to mourn with his family.
“It’s been really hard because the world can be a lonely place,” he said. “Since I lost my passport, I cannot even do anything.”
A Plea is Answered
On December 22, his plea was answered. April Day of St. John’s was wrapping up a Guess bag she had bought as a gift a week earlier when she opened the bag and found Mawora’s documents.
“Omg, I started to cry and was shaking trying to find Leonard’s number to tell him the good news! A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!” Day, exclaims.
As for Mawora, he had finally accepted the inevitable. He wasn’t going home. He had been in contact with the Zimbabwe Embassy in Ottawa, and while they had assured him they could provide him with emergency travel documents to get home, he would not be able to get back into Canada without his student visa. Getting the new documents issued in his home country would be costly and could take years.
So he had bought himself some groceries, resigned to the fact he wasn’t going to see his family. He’d just got home from that errand when he got the news.
“As soon as I sit down, then I got a call from her, saying, like, ‘I have your passport,'” he said in a statement to CBC News. “I just couldn’t believe it at first. It took me some time.… At least now I can go see my family. I’m so happy.”
The good news didn’t stop there. Instead of having a lonely Christmas dinner he was invited to share the meal with the Day family, and they offered to pay for his flight home.
According to Day,
“I’m just very happy and glad that I can actually help Leonard to go home to his family.”
As for Mawora, he is deeply touched by the support he received from across Canada.
“You have people from Winnipeg, people who don’t even know you. Like, they were calling to support me, even when I thought of giving up,” he said. “They’re telling me, ‘Just keep on fighting, things will look up.'”
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Source: CBC Nfld. & Labrador