From our newsletter of Easter 1998

Blessed Gérard's Care and Social Centre & Hospice

The Care and Social Centre experienced an increase in its activities due to the fact that the management was invited to become a member of the iSithebe AIDS Forum. This is a committee of factory managers, company nurses, staff representatives and volunteers from factories in the local industrial area. The committee is concerned about the high percentage of people diagnosed as HIV positive (informed sources claim 80% [!!!] of workers in factories in iSithebe may be HIV positive), their expected deterioration as full-blown AIDS patients, and eventually the departure or death of factory staff due to illness.

This forum sought help for the care and counselling of their own workers. We, the Blessed Gerard's Care Centre team, were approached for advice and asked to consider how we could best help. The most recent meeting of the iSithebe AIDS Forum was held at the Care and Social Centre. It was decided then that our facility would be ideal for providing education, counselling, home care and hospice care to all those people and families infected by HIV. Selected volunteers will be trained as AIDS counsellors together with the members of the iSithebe AIDS Forum.

The iSithebe AIDS Forum will also look into subsidising the work of our organisation according to the level of utilisation of our facility. It will solicit donations from its own companies and organise fundraising events in the local community.

We look forward with great anticipation to a good number of volunteers from the USA and Germany joining our local volunteers soon. Those who are sure to come are Björn Peters from Germany from 15 July for a full year and Katie Truesdale from the USA from 17 July for a month. Most likely two more nurses will come from the USA, but at this point we are not quite sure yet. We look forward to your coming!