Lillian Molloy's 2002 report on

 

THE BROTHERHOOD OF BLESSED GÉRARD, MANDENI, SOUTH AFRICA

 http://www.smom-za.org/bbg

 

AS THE FIRST ENGLISH VOLUNTEER TO VISIT THE BROTHERHOOD OF BLESSED GÉRARD AND ITS CARE CENTRE & HOSPICE IN  MANDINI, KwaZulu/Natal, SOUTH AFRICA. I WENT WITH A FEELING OF GREAT RESPONSIBILITY.

 

AS SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN INVOLVED AS A HELPER  WITH  THE MANY PROJECTS OF THE BRITISH ASSOCIATION FOR SEVERAL YEARS I WAS FORTUNATE TO SHARE A HOTEL IN LOURDES  WITH THE BROTHERHOODS VICE PRESIDENT MRS CLARE KALKWARF IN  MAY 2001. OVER MANY CHATS SHE DISCOVERED I WAS A FIRST AID TRAINER WITH THE VENERABLE ORDER AND SHE INVITED ME TO TRAIN HER  ZULU VOLUNTEERS IN MANDENI.

 

THANKS TO THE KIND INTERVENTION OF NICOLAS REUTTNER WHO FOUND A BENEFACTOR WITH AN EXCESSIVE AMOUNT OF AIR MILES , I TRAVELLED TO DURBAN JUST AFTER THE MAY PILGRIMAGE WHERE  THE BROTHERHOODS PRESIDENT FR. GÉRARD LAGLEDER KINDLY MET ME AT THE AIRPORT & TOOK ME THE 120K TO MANDENI.

 

THOSE OF YOU WHO WERE ON THIS YEARS PILGRIMAGE WILL REMEMBER FR. GÉRARD JOINING US ON THE PILGRIMAGE AND I AM DELIGHTED TO REPORT THAT FROM NOW ON CLARE KALKWARF & FR. GÉRARD WILL ALTERNATE PILGRIMAGES WITH US (BOTH CANT BE AWAY TOGETHER AS THE CARE CENTRE NEEDS A LEADER!)

 

MY FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE CARE CENTRE WERE VERY DIFFERENT TO WHAT I WAS EXPECTING, EVEN THOUGH I LOOKED AT THE VERY INFORMATIVE WEB SITE DEVISED & CONSTANTLY UPDATED BEFORE I LEFT,  I FOUND IT TO BE A TRULY  PROFESSIONAL FACILITY .

 

FR GÉRARD, CLARE & THE VOLUNTEERS LIVE THE ETHOS OF THE ORDER OF LOOKING AFTER "OUR LORDS THE SICK" ON AN  ONGOING BASIS. OUR DAY STARTS WITH MASS WHERE THE PATIENTS WHO WOULD LIKE TO COME ARE WHEELED IN ON THEIR BEDS OR IN WHEELCHAIRS. THOSE WHO ARE CATHOLIC ARE OFFERED THE SACRAMENT OF THE SICK DURING A MASS IF THEY WOULD LIKE TO RECEIVE IT.

 

88% OF THE POPULATION TESTED IN THE MANDENI AREA IN ZULULAND ARE HIV POSITIVE, THE CARE CENTRE HAS A CONSTANT FLOW OF MAINLY YOUNG PEOPLE COMING IN TO DIE WITH LOVE, DIGNITY, A CLEAN BED  AND SURROUNDED WITH CARE.

MOST PATIENTS DON’T GET VISITORS AND THE CARE CENTRE IS STAFFED BY LOCAL ZULU VOLUNTEERS WHO OFFER THEIR SERVICES DAY & NIGHT FREE OF CHARGE.

THESE VOLUNTEERS BECOME THE FRIENDS AND CARERS OF THE DYING. SOME OF THE PATIENTS ARE CHILDREN TOO.

 

MY RESPONSIBILITY WAS TO TEACH FIRST AID TO THE VOLUNTEERS WHO HAVE ZULU AS THEIR FIRST LANGUAGE AND MOST ONLY SPEAK A LITTLE ENGLISH.

THEY HAVE BEEN DENIED EQUAL EDUCATION DUE TO APARTHEID ,THE ZULUS ARE  NOT STUPID BUT TEACHING THEM WAS A LEARNING CURVE FOR ME AS WELL AS  FOR THEM  AS HOW THEY LEARN WAS VERY DIFFERENT TO HOW BRITISH YOUNG PEOPLE LEARN. THEY ARE THE MOST POLITE, KIND, GENTLE GROUP OF PEOPLE YOU COULD EVER MEET AND LEARNING FOR THEM WAS DIFFICULT BUT THE JOY THEY FELT IN PASSING THEIR EXAMS WAS WONDERFUL TO BE PART OF.  THE PRIDE THEY SHOWED WHEN THEY WORE THEIR UNIFORMS WITH A FIRST AIDERS BADGE WAS GREAT TO SEE.

 

FACILITIES FOR THE OVERSEES VOLUNTEERS WERE MOST WELCOME.

THERE  IS A PRIVATE OASIS OF CALM WITHIN THE CARE CENTRE WHERE NO ONE IS ALLOWED INTO EXCEPT FR. CLARE , THE OVERSEES VOLUNTEERS & INVITED GUESTS. MY ROOM WAS MORE THAN ADEQUATE.

THERE IS SPACE FOR 3 OVERSEES VOLUNTEERS  ALL IN SINGLE ROOMS .

 

DUTIES FOR THE VOLUNTEERS WERE FROM 7AM TO 4PM OR FROM 10AM TO 7PM THE NIGHT SHIFT IS 7PM TO 7AM .DUTIES COULD BE WORKING ON THE WARDS WITH THE PATIENTS OR WORKING WITH THE 10 CHILDREN THE CARE CENTRE NOW HAS RESPONSIBILITIES FOR IN THE CHILDREN'S HOME.  ALL OF THE CHILDREN HAVE A SPECIAL STORY TO TELL OF HOW & WHY THEY CAME TO THE BROTHERHOOD, SOME ARE HIV POSITIVE OR HAVE AIDS,   SOME ARE NOT TESTED OR DIAGNOSED BUT THE NOISE & THE  JOY THESE CHILDREN BRING TO THE CARE CENTRE  LIFTS YOUR SPIRITS.

 

THE WORK OF THE ORDER IS ALIVE AND VERY ACTIVE IN MANDENI BUT THEY NEED OUR HELP. OUR PRAYERS FOR THE WONDERFUL WORK THEY DO, OUR HELP WITH MEDICATIONS ( THE GRAND PRIOR & THE HOSPITALLER HAVE A LIST) OUR FUNDRAISING EXPERTISE AND HOPEFULLY A FEW VOLUNTEERS FROM THE BRITS!

 

THE WORK IS NOT FOR THE FAINT HEARTED OR THE WEAK…….THE HUGE USE OF RUBBER GLOVES, ANTISEPTIC SPRAYS, APRONS,  AND CONSTANT HAND WASHING MAKE THE BROTHERHOOD A SAFE PLACE TO BE AS LONG AS THE VOLUNTEERS LISTEN TO ALL OF THE ESSENTIAL INFORMATION  GIVEN AT THEIR  LONG , AND IMPORTANT INTRODUCTION BY FR GÉRARD WHO AS A NURSE IS AN EXCELLENT ADVISER ON SUCH MATTERS. A UNIFORM IS ALSO PROVIDED AS EVERYONE DRESSES THE SAME.

 

MANDENI IS SET IN A QUIET AREA NOT TOO FAR FROM A HUGE PAPER MILL ,THERE ARE NO PUBS , CLUBS, SOCIAL GATHERING PLACES OR NIGHT LIFE ACTIVITIES AT ALL .

I WAS THERE IN WINTER TOO AND IT WAS DARK AT 5PM.Fr & CLARE ADVISE ALL VOLUNTEERS TO BE IN AFTER DARK UNLESS THEY ARE IN A VEHICLE…..WHICH SHOULD BE KEPT LOCKED EVEN WHEN YOU ARE IN IT.

THERE IS A SMALL SHOPPING AREA 10 MINUTES WALK AWAY BUT THE SMALL SPAR THE POST OFFICE AND THE OFF LICENCE DON’T REALLY CONSTITUTE A SHOPPING CENTRE.

 

THE WORK OF THE ORDER IS SO VITAL TO  THE PEOPLE OF MANDENI AND THE MANY PROJECTS RUN BY THE BROTHERHOOD INCLUDING A SEWING SCHOOL , A MALNUTRITION CLINIC, A CRÈCHE AND PRE SCHOOL GROUP , TRAINING IN FIRST AID AND HOME NURSING ALL NEED OUR HELP.  THE AIDS PROBLEM IS ALREADY  A PANDEMIC IN SOUTH AFRICA THAT IS WHY THE BROTHERHOOD IS ALREADY EXTENDING THE BUILDING OUT & UP, THE INCREASE IN THE NEED FOR BEDS AND HOMES FOR THE MANY CHILDREN ORPHANED BY AIDS CAN ONLY GROW. WE CAN NOT IGNORE THIS IMPORTANT WORK OF THE ORDER IN SOUTH AFRICA.

 

DEATHS OCCUR SOMETIME DAILY, SOMETIMES AS MANY AS 3 IN A DAY BUT IT IS A HUMBLING EXPERIENCE TO BE WITH SOMEONE WHILE THEY ARE DYING, MANY TIMES THE AMBULANCE GOES OUT INTO THE BUSH TO COLLECT A VERY SICK PERSON ONLY TO FIND THEY HAVE DIED BEFORE THEY HAVE GOT THERE. THE AIDS SITUATIONS IS VERY GRAVE INDEED. THE LIVING ARRANGEMENTS OF THESE PEOPLE AND THE MEDICAL CARE THEY RECEIVE IS JUST AWFUL. THE  ALTERNATIVE TO THE HOSPICE IS DIRE LIVING ARRANGEMENTS WITH NO WATER OR ELECTRICITY. NO SANITATION JUST A CORNER OF A HUT TO DIE IN. I FEEL I AM A VERY DIFFERENT PERSON NOW, THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF FR GÉRARD & CLARE ARE MASSIVE ,IF EVER A GROUP OF PEOPLE NEEDED OUR PRAYERS & HELP IT IS NOW.

 

IF ANYONE WOULD LIKE ANY MORE INFORMATION OR IS INTERESTED IS GOING TO MANDENI PLEASE LOOK AT MY WEB SITE

http://bbg.org.za/members/Molloy OR E-MAIL ME ON lillian.Molloy@bt.com