Introducing the foreign Volunteers for the second half of 2000

Silla Helas

She gave us this letter:

"During the time when I volunteered at the Care Centre friends and relatives asked me repeatedly how I liked my service there. I always could answer that I like it and that I enjoyed my duties. Most people could not understand this. They asked me: Is it not quite strenuous, hard and depressing? I could not deny this. It was not easy for me to explain why I still liked it. Why can it be nice to watch people dying, to try to alleviate their last days, not even being able to speak their language? And why does one not despair while experiencing so much misery? The first reason that I mostly brought forward, was, that all the people who work there day and night are admirable and really nice. Well, that surely alleviates a lot, I was told - and that's how it was indeed. I think, without the nice environment, I would not have stayed there long. But there are still so many other reasons that made my stay there so impressive, which are so difficult to be put into words. I will try to explain what I mean through two examples, which made an impression on me. Right at the beginning, when I came to Mandeni, there was a lady amongst the patients who was about to die from AIDS, TB and probably even meningitis, too. She was emaciated and weak, full of sores, rarely talked, lying there in a semi-comatose state. Her condition deteriorated continuously and so I often sat with her for hours. She persevered very very long. One morning when I entered the ward her perception seemed not to be so dull. During the long time that I had sat with her we hardly exchanged a word, but when I called her by name that morning, she smiled at me. This little smile, although I did not even know if it was aimed at me, was already enough for me to be happy and to realise, that what one does is good. Another look, which I will never forget, is the one of a little boy, who had an epileptic fit during Holy Mass one morning. He banged his head on the floor and made us all get a fright. We had fetched the boy the evening before from his family who had totally neglected him. He had not received medication (which is free of charge) for a long time and because of many fits he had lost many abilities. He was not able to chew properly any more and therefore he was half dead from hunger. The Clinic, where we only went to ask what dosage of medication he should get, fobbed us off, because it was already after hours and they would only accept emergencies. I was infuriated by this case - because of all the maltreatment that had been given to the boy who actually could have lived a totally normal life. And I realized, that the work which the Brotherhood is doing, is really important and needed, so that for people and children, who live there, life can be made more worth living again."

Silvana Bothur, Elena Schmidt, Dorothea Huber, Sebastian Hofmann,
all from Germany

We trust that your work with us in Blessed Gérard's Care Centre & Hospice has been fulfilling and rewarding. Thank you for the time you have taken and the money you have spent to come to Mandeni to assist us in our task to help the sick.

This page is part of the Newsletter No. 20 of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard

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