A tribute to Menzi

by Sr. Sheilagh Schröder

Coming to work for Blessed Gérard's Care Centre was literally an answer to a prayer. I had been working part time in the United Kingdom doing caring, and thoroughly enjoying the work and travel that it entailed, but there came a time when my priorities changed, and I desperately wanted to come back to South Africa permanently again, but employment in the area where I live, is hard to find in the nursing field. While home for a month last August, I was approached by one of the staff, Sister Elizabeth Coetzer, as to whether I would be interested in joining her working there. I could not believe it, and gave her an emphatic yes, without hesitation.

Well here I am almost a year after starting, telling you about a little boy, who crept into my heart. Management was approached by a Social Worker from the Eshowe area about a little malnourished toddler, who had been in and out of hospital. He, like so many others, was HIV positive and had a skin condition associated with AIDS. He was admitted to the Blessed Gérard's Hospice before Christmas 2004. His skin problem meant that he was continually shedding layers of skin, which at times would crack and bleed. This made him fractious and he loved nothing better than a cuddle. One day when I was off duty, he was crying, and when asked what he wanted, he said he wanted "Gogo" (Zulu for grandmother). Not understanding who he meant, he was asked: "which gogo?" He said the “Umlungu gogo”, meaning me, the only white, grey haired member of the staff. I was very touched. He subsequently crept into the core of my heart. All the children we look after become special to us and - thank goodness - they have found a place where they get plenty of love and security. When they die, like Menzi did in July, it is so sad and we mourn like parents for these little people. I have no grandchildren of my own, so after Menzi died, I wrapped his little body in a shawl that my mother had made for my children.

There are so many AIDS orphans in our area and the money donated to keep our Centre going, goes a long way to making the many children like Menzi end their days surrounded by love and peace.


This page is part of the Newsletter No. 25 of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard




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This page was last updated on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 12:49:45