Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard

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Blessed Gérard's Care Centre · AIDS treatment · Hospice · Children's Home

(0:21 – 1:32) Father Gérard:


We are in South Africa, and there we are in the province of kwaZulu/Natal, in Mandeni.
We are helping the people through Blessed Gérard’s Care Centre.
This Blessed Gérard’s Care Centre is a centre of comprehensive care,


(1:33 – 2:21) Wiseman Zulu:

My name is Wiseman Zulu.
My job here: I am a therapeutic counsellor.
A therapeutic counsellor has to go and monitor those patients who are taking medication from us.
So, as they take medication here, they have to go home.
While they are at home they got different problems:

·         Some of them just feel isolated.

·         Some of them don’t have food.
I have to look after them as they can’t take medication without food.

You have just to bring your heart.
Go in and be a solution in those problems.


(2:27 – 4:08) Dr. Khaya Nzimande:

I’m Khaya Nzimande.
I work here as a doctor in the hospice and also in the HIV Clinic.
Well, people do ask me how do I deal with death and why am I in such a depressing environment?
And I must admit: Initially, before I came here, I also had that impression that if I am going to a hospice I am going to see people dying – you know – what’s the use?
But I have been here now for almost eight years and within the first year I changed the way I looked at hospice care and palliative care in the same sense.
We actually make a big difference in people’s lives, because people who are coming here are people who have been to hospital usually and the hospital has said “We cannot do anything for you” and we don’t have that line (of thinking) in our organisation.
So we know there is always something to do, even if it just means controlling the person’s symptoms and taking away their pain, making sure they are comfortable.
That makes a whole lot of difference in that person’s life, even if they do pass away.
But if they pass away or they die they are comfortable, they are smiling, they don’t have any pain.
It gives us a sense of fulfilment, that at least we made the person comfortable.
And it is a bonus if a person comes in a bed and walks out alive and goes back to the community we feel that, o.k., at least we made a difference in one person’s life.
So it is mostly more about a sense of fulfilment and reward more than a sense of pride.


(4:14 – 5:36) Hayne Clark:

My name is Hayne Clark and I am the Children’s Home manager here at Blessed Gérard’s Care Centre.
In many cases the children that reach us are often AIDS-orphans where their parents have died because of AIDS.
Some of them are very young when they come in.
There will be trauma that the child experiences in the whole environment of losing their parents and they don’t understand why and they don’t quite grasp the concept of HIV and AIDS and what has happened.
So when we bring them in we use our caregivers first of all to mother these children so that they feel accepted.
I feel so so proud when our children who have passed through our hands go out into the world and make something of themselves.
We are not looking for everybody to be a rocket scientist or a statesman, just to be a good upstanding person and then have the ability to say: I made it!

It is not about a job. It’s a vocation and there is no prouder feeling than to see a child that you know you had just a little part in making their lives what they are when they get out there.


(5:39 – 6:00) Father Gérard:

These people have no health insurance and therefore we have to fundraise to pay for their upkeep, to pay for their care, to pay for their treatment.
We have all the wonderful helpers, we have all the buildings and we have all the cars.
All we need is the money to keep the whole thing running and this is why we say:
Please do help us to help!



Blessed Gérard's Care Centre (6 April 2006)

Blessed Gérard's Care Centre

A TV report about Blessed Gérard's Care Centre, filmed on 6 April 2006, the day when Clare Kalkwarf, the Vice-President of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard, who features in the film, was murdered.

Why us? Left behind and dying

This is not a film about us, but a few short sequences for the video were filmed at Blessed Gérard's Hospice in 2004(?).
The film was finally published in 2009

The reality of AIDS in Africa today (30 April 2004)

The reality of AIDS in Africa today

30 April 2004:

Neill Connery reports on Blessed Gérard's Hospice and Blessed Gérard's Children's Home in Mandeni, South Africa.

Pioneering AIDS treatment in South Africa (5 August 2003)

Pioneering AIDS treatment in South Africa

The 1st National AIDS-Conference in South Africa

was the occasion that a TV crew from BBC London visited Blessed Gérard's Hospice and filmed scenes from our palliative care. Hilary Andersson's impressive report on the inequality of access to antiretroviral medication was broadcast in the BBC Newsnight programme on 5 August 2003 and surely played a role to persuade the South African Government to make a declaration of intent to roll out antiretroviral medication to the public in future.

Hilary Andersson reported from the first national AIDS conference in South Africa, and asked why the Pretoria government's own policies mean that drugs which are saving lives in developed countries are being denied to the poor.

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta at the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development (30 August 2002)

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta at the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta at the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable DevelopmentThe statement of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta delivered to the plenary session on 30 August 2002 by the Representative of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta at the World Summit: Father Gérard T. Lagleder O.S.B.


Sovereign Military Order of Malta

at the

United Nations

World Summit

on Sustainable Development

Johannesburg, South Africa, 26 August - 4 September 2002

The Representative of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta at the World Summit
Father Gérard T. Lagleder O.S.B.

The statement of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta delivered to the plenary session on 30 August 2002:

Directly from the UN website:
Sovereign Military Order of Malta
Rev. Father Gerard T. Lagleder,
Head of Delegation
[Text: English] [Video: English]

[Mr. President of the World Summit,] Madam Chair,
Your Excellencies, [Heads of State and Government,]
Distinguished Heads of Delegations and Delegates,
Dear Sisters and Brothers, 

We are all seeking the best possible solutions for sustainable development. Development and its sustainability though, must not be seen as an independent aim detached and idolised, but it must always include and focus on the human person, who is to be developed, and on the human person who develops programs, systems and society.
No. 46 of the “Draft plan of implementation” of this World Summit quotes the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, which states that human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development.
Human development therefore, must be our first concern in order to develop the human family.
This educational process will only be sustainable if we try to achieve it through a holistic approach, developing the whole human person: body, mind and soul.

A perfectly educated brain in a healthy body though may become a threat to humankind, if it is not part of a morally and spiritually well-balanced personality.
There are developments taking place in our scientific world where the sacrosanct nature of human life is disregarded and crucified:
The very matter of humanity, human life, is threatened through the practise of abortion and active euthanasia in many countries.
Life is degraded to become merchandise where human life is generated, harvested and (ab)used and where human life, not meeting the criteria, is disposed of in the trash bin of [gene technology] laboratories.
Where development is not based on a morally sound foundation and where it is not embedded in synergy with our creator, technological progress may be misled and jeopardise the aim of development: the holistic well-being of humankind.

I am not here, to preach morals to you, but I am humbly and urgently requesting, that all governments may do all in their power, to protect human life from conception to its natural end on earth.

If development wants to be sustainable, it must develop the human person towards respect for life, maturity, responsibility and care – or in religious terms, towards faith, peace and love.

Only a respectful, mature, responsible and caring person will have the right attitude towards the environment that “mother nature” provides for all of us.

We have the knowledge and technology to save and to destroy our earth.
What we have to do and what this World Summit wants to facilitate, is to use all our most wonderful resources, abilities, talents and knowledge to develop the earth and all its people and ecology to make it an even better place for everybody.

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta has always subscribed to sustainable development according to our very modern, but ancient motto “tuitio fidei et obsequium pauperum” (Protection of faith and service to the poor).
As the oldest regular relief organisation of the occident and the oldest hospital order of the church, we proudly boast more than 900 years of history, working for sustainable development through programs and activities implemented in many countries all over the world by our national and internationalassociations and organisations to

  • alleviate poverty [including
    • educational programmes to increase employment and generate income,
    • hunger relief,
    • community development,
    • educational programmes for children,
    • health care and
    • health education and
    • disaster management] and to
  • promote health [including
    • the care for vulnerable groups of society, such as people with disabilities and elderly persons,
    • the running of health care systems to deliver health services to all, in an efficient, accessible and affordable manner aimed at preventing, controlling and treating diseases, and
    • the provision of special assistance to children orphaned by HIV/AIDS].

In my capacity as the president of the South African Relief Organisation ( of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, I am happy about the emphasis of this World Summit on sustainable development for Africa.
I am particularly proud that the foundation of our South African Relief Organisation was not a satellite initiative from a foreign entity, to develop us Africans, but an idea and program entirely made in South Africa for South Africa by people living in South Africa.
We are Proudly South African!
Our main focus are children, youth and adults infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, providing child care and hospice care, HIV/AIDS education and community development to eradicate HIV infection caused by dangerous ways of income generation as a result of poverty.

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta highly appreciates the “(Draft) plan of implementation” of this World Summit [, especially its chapter II on “Poverty Eradication”, chapter VI on “Health and sustainable development” and chapter VIII on “Sustainable development for Africa”] and publicly renews its commitment to remain actively involved in sustainable development on an international level.

May this World Summit bear fruit a hundredfold and may God bless us all to achieve it.

Thank you!

Rev. Father Gérard T. Lagleder O.S.B.

Text inserted at time of delivery is printed in Italics and text [omitted] at time of delivery is put in [brackets].

An everlasting Brotherhood (2002)

An everlasting brotherhood

Blessed Gérard, the founder of the Order of Malta, said: "Our brotherhood will be everlasting, because the ground which this plant is rooted in, is the misery of the world - and because, God willing, there will always be people, who want to work towards the alleviation of these sufferings to make this misery more bearable." The Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard in Zululand / South Africa revitalises this charisma in Blessed Gérard's Care Centre and Hospice, Children's Home, Community Development Centre (Sewing School), Pre-Primary School and Crèche, Malnutrition Clinic, AIDS Education, Poor-Sick-Fund, Disaster Relief, First Aid and Emergency Service, Relief Fund, Club for the elderly and Bursary Fund. This film, filmed in 2001, wants to introduce you to this work.

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta at the United Nations World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (3 September 2001)

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta at the United Nations World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

Intervention of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta to the General Assembly of the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, 3 September 2001:
Introduction by: Rev. Father Gérard T. Lagleder, M.Th., O.S.B., Magistral Chaplain of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, President of its Relief Organisation in South Africa and Representative of the Order to this World Conference.


Sovereign Military Order of Malta

at the

Use of the logo

United Nations
World Conference
Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

Durban, South Africa, 31 August - 7 September 2001

The Delegation of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta at the World Conference
(left to right) Professor Dr. Mark J. Wolff, K.M. and Father Gérard T. Lagleder, O.S.B.

Intervention of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta to the General Assembly of the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

3 September 2001

From the official UN website:
Audio only: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish


Introduction by: Rev. Father Gérard T. Lagleder, M.Th., O.S.B., Magistral Chaplain of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, President of its Relief Organisation in South Africa and Representative of the Order to this World Conference.

Madam/Mr. President of the World Conference,
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Governments,
Distinguished Heads of Delegations and Delegates,
Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Allow me to start our address in Zulu as a reverence to the mother tongue of most of the inhabitants of our hosting city: Durban.

Ngiyanibingelela nonke!I greet you all!
Ngokusebenzisa ulimi lesiZulu ngifuna ukukhombisa ukuthi sihlonipha abantu bakwaZulu.Through using the Zulu language I want to signify that we honour the people of Zululand.
Bayasimukela njeng’ abangane, hayi njeng’ izihambi nje.They receive us as friends, not just as strangers.
Uma sifuna ukunqoba ubuhlukaniswa babantu, sifanele ukuphenduka, sifanele ukukhuluma ulimi lwabanye abantu, hayi ngomlomo nje, kodwa ezinhliziyweni zethu futhi.If we want to defeat the separation of people (i.e. racism and apartheid) we have to repent, we have to speak the language of the people, not just by mouth, but also in our hearts.
Ngaphezu iminyaka 900 inhlangano yethu yasiza izihambi nabantu abanezinkinga eziningi ezisweni eziningi emhlabeni wonke.For more than 900 years our order (the Sovereign Military Order of Malta) has helped strangers and people with manifold problems in many countries in the whole world.
Lapha – khona manje - sikhuluma indaba yokusiza abantu abahluphekayo, ngoba abantu abaningi abahloniphi ubuntu wabanye abantu.Here at this conference we are talking about how to help those people who suffer, because there are many people who do not respect the dignity of others.
Inhlangano yethu iyathembisa ukuthi sizoqhubeka umsebenzi wokunakekela labo bantu namandla ethu onke.Our Order pledges to continue our work to help these people with all our strength.
EnangisimuAfrika sinezinhlelo ezishumi nambili yokusiza abantu nengculazi nezinye izifo, abantwana abangondlekile kahle, nabampofu.We run twelve programs in South Africa to care for people living with AIDS and other diseases, for neglected children and the poor. (
Umsebenzi wethu ufuna ukunikela amandla kubantu ukuthi abantu bangazisiza.Our work is intended to empower the people to help themselves.
Sicela abahulumeni nabantu emhlabeni wonke ukuthi nizohlangana nathi ukuthi sizovuselela ubuntu phakathi kwabantu.We ask the governments and the people in the whole world to join us in our quest to revive “ubuntu” (the ancient African principle of mutual respect) amongst the people.
Ngiyanibonga kakhulu!Thank you very much!
UNkulunkulu makanibusise!May God bless you!

Intervention by: Professor Dr. Mark J. Wolff, B.A., J.D., LL.M., Knight of Magistral Grace of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Representative of the Order to this World Conference.

Madam / Mr. President,

As we conclude this year the twentieth anniversary of the 1981 “Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief”, and approach the international consultative conference on school education in relation to freedom of religion and belief, tolerance and non-discrimination to be held in Madrid November 23rd to 25th, 2001, it is disheartening to observe the increase of religious intolerance in many regions of the World.

Since 1987 special Rapporteurs of the Commission on Human Rights have been examining the problem of religious intolerance. Since 1987 reports have been submitted each year to the Commission and since 1994 to the General Assembly. While some progress has been made the studies and reports reveal a disturbing trend exacerbated by additional factors complicating and compounding the issues and practices of religious intolerance.

The right to freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. It is an inherent right of every human being and is an essential expression of the human spirit, protecting and enhancing the dignity and individuality of each person created in the image of God. Yet as we begin the Third Millennium religious intolerance remains an increasing and pervasive problem with historical roots in social, cultural and religious traditions. Today religious intolerance is co-mingled with new and alarming phenomena.

Extremism in any manifestation is incompatible with the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; particularly when combined with extremist religious and political organizations.[1] History and unfortunately our contemporary world are replete with holocausts and ethnic cleansings that have occurred in the name of religion and perpetrated by extremists utilizing religion as a scapegoat. According to the excellent report submitted by Special Rapporteur Mr. Abdelfattah Amor on Civil And Political Rights, Including Religious Intolerance to the Commission on Human Rights minorities[2] and women are predominantly vulnerable to extremist religious organizations. (E/CN.4/2001/63, Feb. 13, 2001) These extremist organizations utilize a variety of means of intimidation including, aggressive proselytism, harassment, threats, direct or indirect legal restrictions on religion and beliefs, physical violence and murder as has tragically occurred recently in many parts of our world. But extremist organizations do not operate effectively without active or tacit support from local or state governmental authorities.

When both religious intolerance and discrimination against already vulnerable minorities intersect, the offences are not merely cumulative but rather create a new and even more devastating violation of human rights.

Our delegation believes that in order to achieve the elimination of religious intolerance preventative long-range measures must be implemented, in particular through education. The youth of the world must be educated, at the earliest levels, to respect the rich diversity of genuine religious beliefs held by mankind. The beauty of a quilt is comprised of the unique and genuine nature of each thread – an appreciation of the diverse religions of the world enhances the fullness and completes the potentialities of the human being – religious intolerance and discrimination reduce, confine, subjugate and degrade civil society and human dignity.

As recently stated by Wilfred Cardinal Napier of Durban: “We must take upon ourselves the sins of world racism and religious intolerance.”

We call upon all leaders of institutions, governments, religions and civil society to engage in a respectful dialogue with a view towards achieving the goals of this World Conference to end racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

We must take positive action to assure that every human being will reach his or her divine destination in dignity, freedom and peace.

[1] As pointed out in the Report submitted by Mr. Abedelfattah Amor, Special Rapporteur to the Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/2001/63) at page 45 “The dividing line between religious and faith-based communities and political-extremist organizations is vague and sometimes non-existent.”

[2] See. Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities.

Blessing and Opening of Blessed Gérard's Care Centre (3 September 1996)

Blessing and Opening of
Blessed Gérard's Care Centre

3 September 1996

13:00 - 15:00 hrs (1 p.m. - 3 p.m.) We welcomed and honoured our guests, members and the public with a presentation of our wide range of cultural traditions

17:00 hrs (5 p.m.) High Mass to bless and open Blessed Gérard's Care Centre

Main celebrant: Rt. Rev. Bishop Mansuet Dela Biyase

<font color="#000000" size="5">Blessing and Opening of
Blessed Gérard's Care Centre</font>
(3 September 1996)


September, 1995the working drawings are passed by Mandeni Town Board
<font color="#000000">October, 1995</font>the building begins - the site is cleared, the foundations are marked on the ground and the excavation begins.
<font color="#000000">February, 1996</font>A 40ft container with equipment arrives from Mr. Meehan in Milwaukee and is offloaded into storage
<font color="#000000">March, 1996</font>the foundation stone is laid in the centre of the soon-to-be-poured floor of the chapel
<font color="#000000">June, 1996</font>Sr. Elaine Taylor from The Irish Order of Malta Ambulance Corps arrives in South Africa, to train our Active Members
<font color="#000000">July, 1996</font>the first home nursing courses for our members begin
<font color="#000000">August, 1996</font>the final stages of the construction
<font color="#000000">September, 1996</font>the OPENING

This is a major understatement of what has actually happened. Anyone who has ever had anything to do with the construction of a building of this size will appreciate this fact.


The oratory

ccward.jpg (34579 bytes)
One of the wards

Mural in the passage "Blessed Gérard in the first Care Centre, the hospital of Jerusalem"

The kitchen

Our ambulance


The time had come and the VIPs began to arrive - First the Chancellor of the Bohemian Grand Priory of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Frederic Count Strachwitz at 4am on Friday, then to Co-ordinator of the aid of Malteser-Hilfsdienst for South Africa, Dr. Albrecht Count Rechberg, and the manager of Malteser-Hilfsdienst in Bavaria, Mr. Manfred Schulz, in the evening. Fr. Gérard wore a path to Durban airport and back, because the Grand Commander of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Frà. Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein, arrived the next morning and the chairman of the International Committee of the Federal Association of the Order of Malta, Mr. Meehan, and his friend Msgr. Charleboix the next evening. Of course, our other VIPs - the Representative of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard in Germany, Mr. Johannes Lagleder, and Mr. & Mrs. Hans & Albertine Sporer had been here for some time already and had been very busy helping us prepare for the 3rd.

Our honoured guests were treated to a Zulu Holy Mass in Sundumbili on Sunday morning, they spent the afternoon having lunch in the countryside and then

an informal braai (=barbecue) in the evening with all the Dedicated Members.

On Monday they were all taken on a tour of our projects -

  • and last but not least a visit to meet the teacher and students at

    Blessed Gérard's Community Development Centre (our sewing school) 
  • and to see the rooms of Blessed Gérard's Malnutrition Clinic in Sundumbili;

Then our guests were taken back to their lodgings to relax before the

formal dinner in the evening.

While all the guests were being entertained, the office in the Priest's House and the Care Centre site were hives of activity. The final countdown for the opening had begun.

No time to sit, no time to relax, no time to eat!!! Johannes Lagleder, Albertine & Hans Sporer, Caroline Beaumont and Sr. Elaine Taylor were the backbone of the team - without their help and co-operation we would never have managed.

The day of Blessed Gérard's Feast had arrived, Tuesday, 3rd September, 1996 - the opening & blessing of the centre and the handing over of the relic of Blessed Gérard.

The official activities began at 1pm with cultural entertainment for the VIPs.


The Mandeni Junior School choir,

the team of Zulu dancers from Dr. & Mrs. Ardington's farm,

the children from Blessed Gérard's Pre-primary School & Crèche

and some young dancers from the Khululekani Primary School all performed their special programmes, which they had prepared.

In between the items, the official speeches of welcome, of appreciation and of good wishes were given by Frà. Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein, Count Rechberg, Mr. Schulz and

Mr. Michael O'Donovan.

Fr. Gérard, Mrs. Kalkwarf and

Dr. Thabethe presented our guests of honour with traditional Zulu gifts.

It was a very happy and relaxed atmosphere which ended around 4pm. Everyone then started preparing for the big celebration in the evening. In the meantime Mr. Ferdie Rouillon was despatched to fetch Bishop Mansuet from Durban airport, having just been to a parliamentary session in Cape Town.

Somehow the whole thing came together, as planned, at 5pm!!!

The Care Centre was full, there wasn't a chair to be had anywhere. The Sundumbili Choir was in place and the celebration could really begin. What a wonderful celebration it was!


The festive High Mass began with the

blessing of the oratory and the altar by Bishop Mansuet Biyase of Eshowe.

After the sermon

the new Associate Members received their medals and were duly blessed by the Bishop.

Then the new Honorary Dedicated Members were solemnly invested.

Mr. Johannes Lagleder, Mr. Hans & Mrs. Albertine Sporer & Mr. Daniel Meehans' capes were blessed by the Bishop and conferred on them by the Grand Commander of the Order of Malta, Frà. Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein and the Dedicated Members of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard.

Following this the relic of Blessed Gérard was fetched by His Excellency, the Venerable Bailiff, Frà. Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein and the other attending members of the Sovereign Military Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta and brought in procession to the oratory where the Bishop of Eshowe, Fr. Gérard and the Dedicated Members of the Brotherhood were waiting. The relic was carried on a red velvet cushion and handed over with great emotion to the Bishop, who placed it on the altar.

The celebration of Holy Mass then continued.

After Holy Communion, the Grand Commander placed the relic of Blessed Gérard in a reliquary which had been donated by the family of Fr. Gérard.

Then he handed over the relic to the President of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard, who placed it into a glass fronted cabinet in the side wall of the oratory and sealed there by the building contractor Mr. Luigi Haglich.

The celebration was brought to a close with the blessing of the whole Care Centre by the Bishop.

This is the first time in the 900 year-history of the order, that a relic of Blessed Gérard has been granted to any organisation and this is the first church, oratory or chapel which has been dedicated to Blessed Gérard. This is indeed a great honour for us.

Another honour was given to two very important people, without whose support the Care Centre would not be here today.

Frà. Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein conferred two orders of merit, which were granted by the Grandmaster of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, His Most Eminent Highness, Frà Andrew Bertie:

The first was the Grand Cross Pro Piis Meritis for Bishop Mansuet Biyase

and the other was the Commander's Cross Pro Merito Melitensi for Mr. Daniel E. Meehan.

After all the ceremonies and celebrations, a supper was served to everyone who attended before they left for home.

We consider all that happened a huge blessing and a great honour for our country, province and community.

THANK YOU to everyone who did anything to help to make this occasion so special.

  • the ladies and junior members who helped to clean the whole centre,
  • the ladies who served the tea in the afternoon,
  • Mrs. Patricia Thompson and her team for the flower arrangements,
  • the ladies who helped serve supper in the evening,
  • Mr. William Yeo for having a watchful eye,
  • the altar servers who gave up so much time for practise,
  • to Mr. Karl Schmidt who taught the altar servers and assisted as an acolyte,
  • to Rev. Br. Bernard Pachner O.S.B. from Inkamana Abbey, who recorded the celebration on a video tape,
  • to Mrs. Caroline Beaumont for going the extra mile
  • and to all those who have not been mentioned

PS: If you would like a copy of the video of the opening ceremonies, please bring your own 195 VHS tape to the office.


Blessing and Opening of Blessed Gérard's Pre-Primary School & Crèche (29 June 1995)

Blessing and opening of
Blessed Gérard's Pre-Primary School & Crèche


29 June 1995:
Bishop Mansuet Dela Biyase of Eshowe blesses and opens Blessed Gérard's Pre-Primary School & Crèche in oWhebede, KZN, South Africa.

The local people of Whebede, which is one of the communities of the parish of Mangete (in the Diocese of Eshowe, RSA), situated north of the Tugela River mouth, have approached us for help in setting up a pre-primary school & crèche in their area. This is an extremely poverty stricken area. It is a remote rural settlement without any job opportunities. Most of the inhabitants are migrant workers and many women depend on their own income. Therefore they needed a place to look after their children while they are at work. The school can cater for 30 children.

Blessed Gérard's Pre-primary School & Crèche

was blessed on Saturday, 29th July, 1995 by the Bishop of Eshowe, Rt. Rev. Mansuet Dela Biyase and officially opened by the Chairman of the International Committee of the Federal Association of the Order of the Order of Malta in the United States of America, Mr. Daniel E. Meehan.

Mr Luigi Haglich, who has built Blessed Gérard's Pre-Primary School & Crèche handed over the keys to our Administrator of Goods, Mr. Geoff Kalkwarf. After two years of negotiations and fund raising, Blessed Gérard's Pre- Primary School & Crèche has been officially opened. The new building can accommodate approximately thirty children. At the time of its opening these eight children were enrolled in our school. In the meantime two more children have joined our school. There is one large class room, one large room for play and rest, an office / store room and a kitchen. There is only one very important item lacking from this facility and that is a constant water supply. At present there is a rainwater tank, but due to the drought this is not a reliable source. The Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard is currently looking into the possibility of sinking a borehole. This would not only supply the children with clean water but many other people in the area as well. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Aktion Dreikönigssingen, Germany, Mr. Daniel E. Meehan, USA, Malteser-Hilfsdienst Germany and an anonymous donor from Switzerland for their major donations, which enabled us to build the school. Among the dignitaries who witnessed the opening of the pre-primary school & crèche and the other work which our organisation carries out were Dr. Albrecht Count of Rechberg, who is the co-ordinator for the help of Malteser Hilfsdienst Germany to South Africa, his wife Joy Countess of Rechberg and their son, Thomas Count of Rechberg, Mr. Manfred Schulz, the managing director of Malteser Hilfsdienst Bavaria and Mrs. Ruby Martin, the former Minister of Administration for the State of Virginia in the United States of America. To our project co-ordinator Mr. Mthembeni Conrad Khumalo, the project committee (Mr. Geoff Kalkwarf, Dr. & Mrs. Paul Thabethe) and all active members who helped in any way - THANK YOU!

A piece of South Africa - no tourist ever sees (1993)

A piece of South Africa - no tourist ever sees

The Relief Organisation of the Order of Malta in South Africa.
A Film on its Origins, Work and Plans.

A piece of South Africa - no tourist ever sees.

The Relief Organisation of the Order of Malta in South Africa.

A Film on its Origins, Work and Plans.

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Blessed Gérard lived at the transition from the 11th to the 12th century. He was a French Benedictine monk and the guest master of the Benedictine Monastery St. Maria Latina in Jerusalem. Numerous pilgrims found accommodation there, who came to see the places where Jesus lived and died and rose from the dead. Because the journeys in those days were a great strain, most of the pilgrims arrived in Jerusalem exhausted or sick.

Therefore the guest house of St. Maria Latina was more a hospital than a hotel and it was in those days commonly known as the Hospital of Jerusalem. Apart from nursing the sick they used to accommodate abandoned children, feed the starving, clothe the needy and care for discharged prisoners. Blessed Gérard founded the Brotherhood of St. John of Jerusalem as a charitable organisation to run the hospital.

This community is the historical root of the Hospital Order of St. John, the oldest Hospital Order of the Church, which is today known as the Order of Malta.

Their rule and spirituality is based on the Benedictine principle of hospitality. The stranger is to be welcomed as Christ himself.

Blessed Gérard and his brotherhood considered it an honour to serve the needy as they represent Christ. The members of the Hospital Order made the promise "to be servants and slaves to our Lords, the sick." On the other hand the sick also benefited from the pastoral care of the hospital which regarded itself not just a health institution, but a spiritual community. Altogether, the brothers on the one hand and the sick on the other hand, are mutually representing Christ, making life in the community of the hospital a mutual encounter with the Lord and therefore an event of salvation.

The Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard wants to revitalise this spirit of the Brotherhood of St. John. It wants to give new life to the charisma of these origins and adopt it into the context of our present time and life situation.

On the 28th of October 1992 the Parish Priest of Mandini, Father Gérard, Mr. and Mrs. Kalkwarf from Mandini and Dr. & Mrs. Thabethe from Sundumbili founded the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard as a private association of Christ's faithful. On the 5th of November 1992 the Bishop of Eshowe gave his go-ahead and on 20th April 1993 he acknowledged the foundation as a church association through a formal decree. On the same day the Sovereign Council of the Order of Malta in Rome acknowledged the Brotherhood as a relief organisation of the Order.

The motto of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard is the ancient motto of the Order of Malta: "tuitio fidei et obsequium pauperum" - "Protection of the faith and service to the poor!" The Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard lives this motto by serving the poor as volunteers, by running charitable projects, no matter what creed, colour of skin or political affiliation the needy may have.

The Brotherhood works in the greater Mandini area, approximately 100 km north of Durban. The population there is close to 100.000 inhabitants made up of more or less 84% Zulu, 6% Coloureds, 6% Indians and 4% white South Africans. A huge township called Sundumbili arose as a settlement for black people who worked for the big paper factory Sappi. Its population increased during the past years because of the development of an immense industrial area named iSithebe, which offers about 23.000 job opportunities. The attraction to get pay for their work tempted many Zulu people to leave their socially intact communities. This meant breaking up their natural environment and homes. Because of the long distances many of them could only return to their homes once or twice a year. However this only paid off for very few, because the wages are so low. These are hardly sufficient to build even simple houses. Therefore extensive Slums arose round iSithebe and Sundumbili, where people live in very small and primitive huts, patched together with corrugated iron, planks, old sacks, pieces of car wrecks and cardboard. In those informal settlements there is neither running water nor bore holes, electricity is like a foreign word and there is still no compulsory school attendance for black children in South Africa.

Therefore only very few manage to escape out of the vicious circle of poverty without help from outside:

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insufficient education leads to unemployment, unemployment results in hunger, hunger makes people sick, sickness creates poverty and one who is poor cannot afford education.

The Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard made it it's job to break the chain of this vicious circle and to make a life of human dignity possible: Through the Bursary Fund we fight insufficient education. Through Community Development and our household school we fight unemployment. Through our feeding scheme we fight hunger. Through health education and AIDS prevention we fight sickness. Through our care centre and our poor sick fund we fight poverty.

Malnutrition Clinic

There is a big need here in our area: Once and formost there are people here, who are starving. There are small little children, whose brains get damaged, because they have not enough to eat, because they are malnourished. And so we said: "We must do something for them!" and we started a feeding scheme for malnourished infants in Sundumbili.

Severe malnutrition in early childhood leads to permanent brain damage. Our founder member, the medical practitioner Dr. Thabethe from Sundumbili and his wife Nokuthula, a qualified nursing sister have initiated a project by which we look after malnourished children. In our feeding scheme they counsel the mothers and teach them how to care for their children properly. They examine the children, weigh them and keep exact records of their progress. Where poverty is the reason for malnutrition and breast feeding is not sufficient or impossible the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard gives them milk, baby food and protein - enriched porridge free of charge.


That is also not enough. We also must do something for old people, who are lonely at home, who are having their children, but they are at work and they sit at home also doing nothing, sitting in front of the TV the whole day or looking what they can do. And so we said: We must make a kind of meeting where these people come together, where they meet and where they chat and where they talk and where they get some information and where they can be happy together and so we started what we call "Twilight-Clubs". We have got one club here in Mandini and one club in Mangete, where the elderly people should gat out of their isolation and meet together and, what I like so much in those Twilight-Clubs, that is, that those people now say: No, we don't want just to be helped. We want to be helpers ourselves. And they say those who want to do their own thing and they want to do things with which they can help other people. And that is actually a very nice idea.

Our active members Mrs. Yvonne Renaud, Mrs. Wendy Richardson and Mrs. Margaret Hawthorn invite all interested senior citizens twice a month to join them for a cup of tea and a chat and a different activity each time, for example a doctor gave a talk on geriatric ailments, a nurse taught calinetics, they played games or did handicrafts. This serves to get the elderly out of their isolation and to find new friends.

Mrs. Marjorie Clark had to have open heart surgery, but the Medical Aid would not cover all the costs. The Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard raised the funds to pay for the difference.

As she has now fully recovered, she has become an active member of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard herself and leads another Club for senior citizens in Mangete together with her husband Gerald and her son Hayne.


There is another big need, too. There are many people, who are sitting at home, who have nothing to do, who just wait, until the day goes by. And then we said: No, we must help those people to be able to employ themselves, to do some work, where they can make money with. And so we said: We will start a community development centre and that we did in Sundumbili, too. We started this community development centre by sewing classes where people learn to make dresses, where they learn to sew, so that they can sell what they are producing and make a living for themselves, for their many children and for their husbands, because sometimes one person has to support many people.

The old slogan "give a fish to a poor man, then he has enough for a day - teach him fishing, then he will always have enough" is still true and expresses best what we are trying to achieve in our community development centre. It should give skills to the needy to encourage self-employment and thus to make them independent of charity. Our first step towards this is a sewing school. We employed Miss Lindiwe Mazibuko, a highly qualified sewing teacher, to give dressmaking courses. Starting as inexperienced beginners the participants after a while are able to sew beautiful garments of high quality.

AIDS Education

That can't be enough, that we just theach them sewing. We also must teach people to care for their own health. Because, if they are sick, if they cannot work, because they are sick, it is also not good. And so we said: Now we must start to do something that people keep themselves healthy. And what we are going to do that is to make courses in basic health care. And first and foremost there will be a programme to tell people how dangerous a sickness is, which is calles AIDS and which is spreading round in our area in a terrible way. A doctor from Ngwelezane Hospital told me: It's round about 10% of the population, who are carrying germs, it's actually a virus, in themselves who causes that sickness. It takes some 10 years to develop, but then they all die. And so we must do something that people don't get sick with this sickness, which we call AIDS, and so, what we are going to do in this community development centre is to give courses to tell the people how to avoid that terrible sickness, which kills so many people.

Our community development centre will soon become involved in the AIDS Education Program which Dr. Thabethe initiated in the area by giving talks and courses on how to prevent the spread of this deadly disease.


There is another need, too: There are so many people, who can't get a job, they can't get work, because they haven't got the skills, because they have no training to do work. And many people, we know, look for work in a household, but they don't get a job, because they don't know how to do those and how to run those modern things in those modern households of ours in our days. And so we said: We must help there, that people can get employment or that people who have got employment already, can do their jobs better and so improve on their own lives.

Our vice-president Mrs. Clare Kalkwarf put the idea into action to organise a basic training for domestic helpers. Many people coming from a rural environment are not familiar with modern household appliances and procedures. For them it is very difficult to find work. Mrs. Yvonne Renaud took the challenge as the principal of our domestic training school to introduce and train interested people theoretically and practically in conversational English, the safe use of electricity and appliances, cooking, ironing and personal hygiene. She is helped by a group of volunteers, including our active members Mrs. Margaret Hawthorn, Mrs. Madge Mc Dermid, Mrs. Joyce Buss as well as Mrs. Wendy Richardson. What the students have learnt they must prove in a final examination to obtain their certificate.

Mrs. Mbokazi, who took part in the first of the courses, said: "Reverend Father, Mrs. Kalkwarf, I would like to say a few words on behalf of the work which has been done. I think I should thank everybody for what he or she has contributed towards us. When I came here the first day, I asked myself: Why did I leave my home and come here ..., but now I have learnt a lot. ... it was a blessing, because you could afford to teach us when we knew nothing. So I say: May God bless you all!"


... who are being sent home from hospital, but cannot be helped by their families. And so we said: We try to build a kind of a home or hospice, where those people can be cared for.

Maria from outside Sundumbili died in Summer 1992 from neglect. She was not acutely sick, so she had no place in hospital, but her relatives, two frail old women, could not cope with nursing her. She died from malnutrition and bed sores. Cases like Maria's are no exception. The Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard therefore wants to erect a Care Centre for needy sick people who cannot be nursed in hospital, but cannot be cared for in their homes either. The Care Centre will have a double role at first to enable relatives to do home nursing by training them in Basic Health Care and nursing, and secondly to be an extended home for those who would otherwise be neglected.


... and then we said: Well, there are many other needs in our area, too. For example, there are people, who are so poor, that they can't pay for the education of their children, and so we said, the Brotherhood said: We try to raise funds, that we can help people, who can't pay for the education of their children, because I think it is a key for the good future of South Africa, that we have good education for everybody.

Education is a key to a good future of every society, but many cannot afford its costs. That is why we have a Bursary Fund to help poor people to get a proper education.

In many more cases we help, when people are in sudden need, for example to give food to starving families, to give clothing to the poor, to give building material to needy people whose huts have burned down, or just to counsel and give advice to those who have no solution to so many different problems.

The Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard helps and wants to help in future, but every organisation can only fulfill its aim, if there are members who do the work and if there are funds to pay for it.

That is why we appeal to all of you:

Help us to help...

Further Information