Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard

Disaster Relief

Blessed Gérard's Care Centre is ready and prepared to give medical assistance and care in case of a disaster

Our readiness and ability to assist as a Relief Organisation in Disaster Control and Civil Protection proven.

On the morning of Friday, 26th January, 1996, the Department of Water Affairs issued a flood warning for all people living along the Tugela River, amongst others. The local civil protection authorities were instructed to evacuate people living in the low-lying areas along the river, especially in the Tugela Rail area. When it was imminent that the Tugela river would flood parts of the Sundumbili Township, the management committee and the Director of Charity Works of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard held an emergency meeting to discuss what we, as a relief organisation, could do to help.


We had planned to set up two places of safety for people possibly being evacuated from their threatened area. One shelter was to be prepared using the church buildings of the Catholic Church in Sundumbili, which is presently the largest room in Sundumbili. Another shelter was to be set up in Mandini using St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Anderson Road. The Sundumbili shelter could have given room to approximately 250 to 300 people and the Mandini shelter may have had a capacity of 150 to 200 people.

Our contingency plans included setting up a co-ordination centre at the offices of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard and task groups for organisation & logistics, medical care, personal care, catering and transportation in each shelter.

From our 82 local active members

28 were not suitable (age or distance)

10 were in reserve and

44 were planned to be called out.

When we contacted these 44 active members

07 could not be reached by phone

06 had other commitments and

31 were ready and prepared to help.

In case of need, our 10 members in reserve plus the 7 members without phone would have been called in. 

When we were convinced, after contacting our members, that both shelters could really be set up, we approached both the Mandeni Transitional Local Council emergency cell phone and the Superintendent Protection Services Officer, Mr. Blackie Swart, to express our readiness to help, if asked to do so by the local Civil Protection authorities. Our readiness was gladly acknowledged both by Mr. Swart and the emergency officer in charge. 

We are happy to report that although this was a very informative exercise and pinpointed many talents amongst our active members, the big floods which had been predicted, did not materialise.

Thank you to all of you who so readily volunteered to be on standby the whole of that particular weekend.

The Relief work of the Emergency Corps of the Order of Malta (ECOM) for victims of the Flood Disaster in Mozambique 2000

The Relief work of the


Emergency Corps of the Order of Malta

for victims of the

Flood Disaster in Mozambique 2000

supported by the South African Relief Organisation of the Order of Malta, the

Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard



Medical Care: ECOM has erected a field hospital / dispensary to assist several thousands of displaced people medically. They supplemented the services and worked closely together with Chibuto Hospital.

Health Education: ECOM emphasises disease prevention and gives instructions on how to avoid health hazards, especially infections like malaria, cholera and AIDS.

Water purification: The Austrian army had taken on the huge task to provide the people in the Chibuto area with clean water. They had produced more than a million litres of drinking water by 30 March 2000. When they left the area in April 2000 there was a major urgency to substitute their service. ECOM planned to drill a borehole there to avoid that people will return to consume unclean water and get sick.

School: ECOM had identified the need that the children in the camp must continue their school education, not only to keep them out of mischief, but also to avoid the disadvantages of an interrupted education. The Austrian army had constructed a bush school and ECOM organised its running and the teaching aids. Among the displaced people were local teachers, who volunteered do do the teaching.

The <font face="Impress BT">Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard</font> as the South African Relief organisation of the Order of Malta has been asked to support the activities of ECOM. We happily have provided them with one of our 4x4 emergency vehicles for transport and we provided them with big tents, field beds, medicine boxes, tables, chairs and administrative equipment for their field hospital.

Handing over our emergency vehicle to ECOM teamleader Karsten Eigenbrod at Mandeni, RSA

The German Luftwaffe transported our emergency vehicle to the disaster area.

Bridges were destroyed, roads swept away and even with a four wheel drive vehicle transport was a major problem.

Pictorial report of the Relief Transport of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard to Mozambique

Arrival at Maputo airport with tents, field beds, tables, chairs, medicine boxes and administrative equipment

Loading of the relief goods into an UN airplane

Chibuto teamleader nurse and paramedic Stefan Simon

Karsten Eigenbrod and Father Gérard shortly before takeoff to Chibuto

Unloading at Chibuto airstrip

A truck from the Austrian army transported the relief goods to the camp

ECOM doctor Klaus Biermann and ECOM nurse Teresa Lleo-Alama with the BBG emergency vehicle in the base camp of the Austrian army at Chibuto airstrip

The BBG emergency vehicle fills up petrol in the base camp of the Austrian army

The Limpopo river changed into a massive lake

Displaced people found shelter in tents

unused buildings of a former farm

or just in the shade of a tree

The Austrian army took over the water purification

The ECOM took over this field "hospital" in the Chibuto refugee camp

the "Casualty department"

the "ICU"

Dr. Klaus Biermann
in the "treatment room"

the "wards"

The Chibuto ECOM team: Nurse and paramedic Stefan Simon (Germany), nurse Teresa Lleo-Alama (Spain) and doctor Klaus Biermann (Germany).

The ECOM team had to start their work with the bare minimum of supplies. The Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard is proud, that we could enhance the efficiency of their work through lending them an emergency vehicle and supplying them with proper medical tents, field beds, Medicine containers, tables and chairs and administrative materials.

Further Information