It’s been more than a month since she was found in the middle of the night, shaking from cold and hunger.
And all is well, for now. But first, let’s rewind.
Late on Dec. 8, Shayma Mustafa placed a call to Mohamed Moussa, the owner of Al’s Grille in Dearborn, Michigan, who in November had discovered a homeless woman struggling with mental illness standing outside a gas station.
At that time, back in November, Moussa invited the woman to eat at his restaurant, and then got in touch with a friend who housed the woman for three weeks.
Eventually, the woman left the house and came back to Moussa, who allowed her to stay and sleep inside the restaurant to escape the cold.
“She slept on the floor for three days,” Moussa said.
After community members helped spread the word on social media, detailing some of the woman’s circumstances, eventually, Mustafa got in touch with Moussa.
Mustafa works for KBK Relief Foundation, a nonprofit organization in the Detroit area.
Moussa said he was going to put the woman up in a hotel for a week, but asked if Mustafa’s organization could pay for two additional weeks at the hotel while a search for any family members could be conducted.
Neither of them knew this woman well. It’s just something they wanted to do.
Next, Mustafa put together an extensive list of possible family members for the woman, and started making some calls.
Finally, on the 14th try, there was finally a breakthrough -- after a call to someone who turned out to be the woman’s daughter.
“She said, ‘That’s my mom, and my mom is missing,’” Mustafa said of what the daughter told her.
After conversing with the daughter, Mustafa said she found that the mother, who is in her early 60s, suffers from schizophrenia.
The mother has two adult children: the daughter living in Garden City, Michigan, and a son who lives in Louisiana, but Mustafa said the mother’s mental state is so off that she often thought her kids were dead.
For the past three years, the mother has roamed throughout the country, including recently being in Oklahoma, and she hadn’t seen her daughter in 10 years, Mustafa said.
It all led to one important moment: Earlier this month, the daughter and mother were reunited at a hotel in suburban Detroit.
The mother recognized her daughter immediately.
“To see her -- recognize her -- emotions were everywhere,” Mustafa said. “It was a beautiful reunion.”
Moussa’s restaurant then happily posted the news of the reunion on its Facebook page. These were the same followers who cared about the woman, and who helped lead to this moment.
“I would personally like to thank our dear community for their outreach and support, in helping this lady in reuniting with her family,” the restaurant posted. “It’s almost been a month since we met her in the middle of the night, shaking from cold and hunger. Also I thank every person who personally helped since the beginning with a place, food and money.”
Despite the reunion, more work needs to be done to treat the mother.
The daughter said the following, according to Mustafa: “‘We take her home, and she runs away the next day.’”
A phone message left for the daughter seeking comment for this story wasn’t returned.
The mother is in need of mental treatment, and the family is searching for a place to house her so she can get that before she runs off again.
“She’s definitely not there (mentally), and is in need of help,” Mustafa said.
But at least for the time being, the hearts of the family members and community members are warmed, knowing the woman is reunited with loved ones and not freezing on the streets.
“It feels pretty good to help people,” Moussa said. “I feel it’s a blessing. When she stayed there, I felt blessed because I was helping someone. I would always hope people would help others.”