Inauguration of Blessed Gérard's Care Centre:
Supporting programme: youtu.be/cP3C4ddyVmk
The founder of the Order of Malta, Blessed Gerard, died on 3 September 1120 and the church dedicated to him was thus blessed on the 876th anniversary of his death. The church is the headquarters of the Order of Malta's South African charity, the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard. Blessed Gérard's Care Centre is the headquarters of the organisation.
Even then, after its foundation on 28 October 1992, the South African Order of Malta operated its Relief Fund for the Sick Poor, Emergency Relief Fund, Scholarship Fund, Child Hunger Relief Project, Home Economics School, Senior Citizens' Club, Sewing School, HIV/AIDS Awareness Programme, Kindergarten, and its Disaster Relief Project.
The opening of Blessed Gérard's Care Centre was the beginning of the hospice.
Later, the first aid service, the children's home and the AIDS treatment programme were added. All these services were not developed on the drawing board, but were each a spirited and effective response to concrete emergency situations on the ground that had not been addressed or adequately addressed elsewhere.
The Care Centre is the hub of this comprehensive programme of holistic assistance in the midst of an area of a quarter of a million people that has often been described as the AIDS stronghold of the world, where over 40% have not even attended secondary school and over 80% live in poverty. On 20/5/2020, iLembe County, where Mandeni is located, had the second highest Covid-19 infection rate in the whole of South Africa, and on 27/8/2021, the seven-day incidence was 237.
The centre's activity report impresses with impressive statistics:
More than 10 000 patients have been treated and cared for by the Care Centre so far.
5134 home care patients
7654 ambulance transports
1624 AIDS patients
2240 social cases
You can find the current statistics in our newsletters.
But even more than these statistics, the idealism, dedication and loving care of the many full-time and voluntary helpers with the patients, clients and care recipients of the centre are a reason for pride and lasting gratitude.
Most of our staff come from the same poverty-stricken area as our patients. Therefore, we have an even greater responsibility for our staff as well. We are a popular employer. With the catastrophic unemployment rate in this country, the fact that we pay 94 people good salaries means an enormous amount. A whole cluster of unemployed family members depend on each earner. One salary usually fills 10 to 20 hungry stomachs. This means that up to 1,500 people are provided with the most basic necessities every day. for this reason alone, it would be socially unjust if we only paid starvation wages. For this reason, our volunteers, just like the main volunteers, receive two full meals per shift, an appropriate reimbursement of expenses and free medical treatment and medication.
When outsiders call the house a "heaven of care in the midst of AIDS hell", "where love overcomes misery", and the aid recipients here experience a "culture shock of love", the goal of "tuitio fidei et obsequium pauperum" (keeping the faith and helping the poor), which is written on every Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard badge, has been achieved.
The South African Maltesers, who are meanwhile thankfully also supported by the Department of Social Affairs and the Department of Health of South Africa, but who have to raise by far the largest part (89%) of their annual financial needs through fundraising, have reason to be grateful to the many donors and sustaining members who have thankfully made it possible time and again to raise the funds to fulfil the huge scope of their work.
Please continue to help us!
And here is the latest "situation report" from Father Gerhard, the head of Malteser International in South Africa:
Our third Covid 19 wave has not yet subsided and is even on the rise again. On 27 August 2021, the 7-day incidence in our county iLembe was 237. Unfortunately, two of our staff and three children in the children's home have recently become infected again.
CORONA: WE HELP!
In addition to our usual services, the Covid 19 pandemic has presented us with extraordinary challenges:
We are faithfully caring for the high-risk group of our immunocompromised and geriatric hospice patients and for the children at our children's home, some of whom are particularly vulnerable due to pre-existing conditions.
We continue to ensure that the 676 patients we treat for life in our AIDS treatment programme reliably receive their life-sustaining highly effective antiretroviral drugs and take them daily, despite their limited freedom of movement due to Covid-19.
We also care for our needy home care and AIDS patients at home.
Many of these patients and their families have no income and suffer from hunger.
We have already delivered nearly two thousand food parcels to them and many more are needed.
A food parcel costs 24 € (26 CHF).
Our clinic for malnourished, malnourished and undernourished infants and toddlers is still fighting hunger, screening the children, counselling their caregivers and giving out an average of 6,636 baby food meals in a four-week cycle for free.
This year I will not be able to come to Europe.
In Germany, the fourth Corona wave has now begun.
I don't think many will be able to come to meetings and church services where I could recruit new donors.
Many potential donors are also "bled dry" because of their most grateful support for the victims of the flood disasters in Central Europe, the forest fires in the Mediterranean countries, the earthquake in Haiti, the emergency in Lebanon, the famines in Madagascar, South Sudan and Yemen, the hurricanes in Mexico and now also the Afghanistan refugees.
That's why I'm currently not planning to come back to Europe until after Easter 2022.
We had quite bad riots in our community of Mandeni, in our county of iLembe, in our province of kwaZulu-Natal and in other parts of South Africa in the week beginning 12 July 2021.
Factories, health facilities, department stores, shops and supermarkets (except for two shops in Mandeni) were looted, partially destroyed and some set on fire. Streets were barricaded and the population was in fear of the robbing hordes. The police were completely overwhelmed. We had quite a shortage of staff because many of our employees could not come on duty because of the riots. Some of them heroically came to us by sneaking through the bush at the risk of their lives because they could not leave the patients in the hospice and the children in the children's home alone.
Thank God, calm has now returned and, similar to the flood disasters in Germany, Belgium and Austria, many volunteers have started to clean up after the chaos. I am also very proud of the older children of our children's home who helped with a lot of enthusiasm and verve.
So it was a bit of a mess here, but I am glad that the situation calmed down and our care centre got away unscathed.
On 11 August 2021, we also resumed our food deliveries to our starving home care and AIDS patients in their huts and dwellings.
Many of them have lost their sources of income due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
In the four weeks before, we were afraid our vehicles would be attacked if they were carrying food parcels. Of course, due to the supply shortage, food has become much more expensive for us to buy, but we are helping as much as we can. The food for a package that feeds a family of four for a month now costs us the equivalent of 24 € (26 CHF).
I am very worried about the future of our country.
When large sections of our population are so impressionable that they will bend and set fire to anything, including their own jobs and sources of supply (department stores, supermarkets, shops, factories, supply trucks and even health facilities, etc.), I see a huge backlog in education, formation of conscience, tolerance, responsibility and peacefulness.
This is an enormous challenge and more than a life task not only for us missionaries.
Detailed current reports about our relief work and situation are available online at: bbg.org.za/chronicles.htm
We celebrate Holy Mass daily in Blessed Gérard's Chapel at 7pm (GMT+2).
This is always broadcast live on www.facebook.com/bgcc.ngo
We are happy to take your intercessions into prayer.
Please support us with freely available (NOT earmarked) donations so that we can use the money where it is needed most at the time.
You can donate here:
IBAN: DE37 7215 2070 0000 0120 21 (Brotherhood of Blessed Gerhard e.V.)