Today we celebrate World AIDS Day.
Everywhere and from all sides, countless statements, comments, demands and verbal or electronic expressions of sympathy are being published, but only very few are actually concerned about AIDS patients.
That is why we prefer not to send out full-bodied declarations of intent and resolutions, but rather to take action ourselves where AIDS patients need our help.
Mandeni was once called the AIDS stronghold of the world.
Hopefully, by now others have overtaken us in the dubious "rank".
Nevertheless, the sad fact is that there are a huge number of HIV-infected people who need treatment but who, because of shyness and fear of public opinion or fear of discrimination, do not have the courage to get tested for HIV infection so that they can really be helped in the long term with proper antiretroviral treatment.
That's why today, on World AIDS Day, we did a big motivational campaign among our local industry.
Hopefully, many more will now get tested as a result.
In our own house, we told all full-time and voluntary staff that they absolutely had to take our AIDS treatment preparation course so that they could acquire the knowledge to be able to help the patients better.
Many of them accepted the offered HIV test and we were able to achieve the breakthrough that many of our staff members who need the treatment have accepted it.
On the occasion of today's World AIDS Day, Malteser Hilfsdienst Traunstein has issued a press release which is certainly worth reading: bbg.org.za/deutsch/PR/Presse/mhdts1.htm.
With great joy we have just noticed that Radio Vatican has promoted our AIDS work as an example of the Church's AIDS work: http://www.oecumene.radiovaticana.org/ted/Articolo.asp?c=337885
It is certainly also known that we offer all our work, including AIDS treatment, free of charge, because our patients are usually so destitute that they could never afford the treatment themselves.
Most of them don't even know how to spell "health insurance".
All our work depends on donations and because our patient numbers have increased enormously and all our vacancies are now filled, funding is becoming increasingly difficult and we have to use every available opportunity to raise funds.
So we would like to ask you to consider helping us in any way you can, be it through donations or through your parish, Rotary, Lions or Golf Club, missionary group, sports club, your Malteser organisation, company or whoever, if they could help us to raise these urgently needed funds.
Every Euro helps us a little further!
Please forgive me if I get on your nerves again with my begging, and believe me that this is unpleasant for me, but I assume that my situation understands that I cannot withdraw from responsibility when help is needed on which so much depends.
I am heartily grateful to all who have supported my mission work and our relief work in South Africa over the past 23 years through prayer and sacrifice, donations or sustaining membership, and I ask for your continued help.
So I remain with best wishes for a blessed Advent and with joyful and grateful greetings
President of the South African Malteser and Diocesan Caritas Director of the Diocese of Eshowe
P O Box 440
Phone +27 82 492 4043
Fax +27 32 456 7962
The Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard is a South African non-profit, non-profit organisation, an association of the Roman Catholic Church and the charity of the Order of Malta in South Africa.
Blessed Gerard is the founder of the Order of Malta.