South Africa like almost all countries in the world has been facing the problems of Covid-19 pandemic since March 2020.
The highly contagious virus poses particular problems for the poor. As Father Gérard mentioned in an Interview with Radio Vatican:
“The big problem is that we have a large part of the population in informal settlements and in townships where there is no social distancing, if you are living in a hut where there are 15 people in one room, you can’t respect social distancing,”
Furthermore, he said, in informal settlements and in slum-like townships, people have no means of washing their hands or following the rules for good hygiene:
“If you have to walk hundreds of meters to the river to fetch water, then you can't wash your hands and you have no means to disinfect yourself with chemical disinfectant: this is a major problem.”
The government now has imposed a lockdown for three weeks and we had to react very quickly to ensure that our patients are cared for during this time.
We have close to 700 patients on Aids treatment in a very large treatment program.
In preparation for the lockdown, explains Fr. Gérard, patients were given their medication for two months in advance “so they don't have to come here.
And they are safe so far.”
A similar strategy was chosen for the Malnutrition Clinic where baby food was distributed to those in need for the whole of the lockdown period.
The same was done for the Order’s Home Care Program, leaving health care workers free to attend to emergencies and strengthen the ranks of the in-patient hospice personnel.
Fr. Gérard was especially keen to express his gratitude and admiration for his staff:
“I am so happy about our personnel! They have been told that if they stay at home they can help prevent infection spreading,” but he says, they are all true to their mission as health-care workers and are faithfully coming to look after their patients and the children.”
The first patient infected with the Sars-Cov-2 virus was registered in South Africa on 5 March 2020.
The government then quickly imposed a strict lock-down.
Shops and schools were closed and there was a strict curfew.
A big challenge for our Blessed Gérard’s Children’s Home with 55 children who have to be at home around the clock.
The care givers and all children, big and small, have been taught the new hygiene standards.
We are proud of our children, because not only did they immediately take part in the new rules of behavior and hygiene they also helped with many new tasks such as sewing masks for all children or pack food parcels for the needy.
The schools have recently reopened after weeks of closing but we are concerned about this, as the numbers of infections are still rising in South Africa.
The members of our Brotherhood will do whatever they can to keep our children and our patients safe.
South Africa is still suffering greatly from the pandemic and its consequences.
On 15 August 2020 the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs has extended the national state of disaster by another month. Despite all these difficulties we faithfully take care of the high-risk group of our immune deficient and geriatric hospice patients and the children of our children's home where some are particularly at risk from previous illnesses. We also took care of our needy home care and AIDS patients at home. Many of these patients and their families were starving after a four-month lockdown. From 6 May to 14 July 2020, we did our best to help distribute hundreds of food parcels. A grocery package costs R300.00 | 21.00 $ | 15.00 £.
Unfortunately, after 14 July 2020, we had to stop distributing food parcels due to the enormous spread of Covid-19 in our area. We were well aware of the plight of the people, but due to a lack of staff due to illness – sixteen of our 91 employees were themselves sick with Covid-19, one of them even died – and due to the disproportionately high risk of self-harm, our management had decided to interrupt food distributions. In this time we could unfortunately only hand out groceries at the Care Centre itself, but not deliver them to the outside.
Food parcel distribution resumed on 21 September 2020 and carried on ever since.
“Child-headed Families” are families whose parents and grandparents have died, where there are no uncles or aunts to step in and where the older siblings therefore have no other choice than to take on the responsibility to look after the entire family.
Many of these child headed families were caused by AIDS.
Unfortunately the readiness of good people to adopt or foster “AIDS-orphans” is absolutely exhausted, since most families struggle themselves to generate the means to survive.
Because siblings cannot receive social child care grants for their brothers and sisters they depend on agri- and horticulture, on keeping a few chicken or goats, on selling their produce at the roadside and on occasional jobs to earn the meagre income to feed the family.
Sadly enough many of such young ladies see no other chance to create an income, but through prostitution.
Child headed families have been hit extremely hard by the Covid-19 lockdowns, as many of these lost their jobs and their roadside stalls are no longer frequented.
Starvation is the result.
We help to bridge the gap through our extensive food parcel distribution programme and, if needed, by donations of clothing, blankets and sometimes also household goods.
CORONA: WE HELP!
Many needy sick people and their families have lost their sources of income and are starving.
We look after them and have already distributed more than a thousand food parcels and there is still a need for many more.
A grocery package costs R300.00 ($21.00 | £15.00).
These photos need no words. They are self-explanatory.