This people dies in my heart as well

by Deacon Thomas Müller

Mandeni / South Africa -

We are frightened by the news again and again:

The last fact will probably never get into the news, although it is the truth. Is does not happen within a few hours and albeit really trying to do so it cannot be phrased in way to hit the mass media. The AIDS problem is so vast that no politician can quickly find an instant solution as part of his election campaign. It needs lots of money and time - both of these nobody has in the rich countries and the Zulu have no crude oil and nothing else what the U.S.A. or Europe would need by all means. Thus the dead will be carried out of their huts further on and every day and mostly buried informally - many grave yards are already overcrowded.

I grew up in Berlin / Germany, worked as a telecommunications technician, a turner and fitter and manufactured air filters.
Later on I felt the irresistible call of Christ in my heart and studied theology and religious pedagogic while I was still working as a sacristan  and caretaker.
Then I was working for more than ten years as a permanent deacon and community counsellor in the Diocese of Hildesheim / Germany and lived in Oyten in the vicinity of Bremen.
Now I am staying together with my wife as a volunteer for three years at the heart of the AIDS death.

It was more than ten years ago that five courageous people started to do something against the indescribable misery. They had no money, but a big heart and infinite trust in God. Thus an exemplary project grew with high speed: The Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard. A Care Centre was built in Mandeni, 100 kilometres north of Durban, shortly after the foundation of the organisation ten years ago which was twice enlarged meanwhile. People allowed themselves to be infected again and again with the pioneer spirit and the incredible work of these idealists. Thus the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard, which is purely financed through donations, has become a pacemaker in the fight against AIDS with the largest hospice of the country with 40 beds in air-conditioned wards, a Children's Home with another 40 beds and many outreach projects. Government and private institutions keep coming for advice how to implement antiretroviral AIDS treatment.

My wife and I help wherever a helping hand is needed.
Boredom is a foreign word.
It happens nearly every day that one of us goes out into the township or into the bush by ambulance with a nurse.

We fetch patients from their dwellings, sometimes out of pretty Zulu huts, rondavels with a thatched roof, sometimes out of low-cost-housing township dwellings, square and stuffed with furniture which looks as if it was collected from a rubbish dump and repeatedly also out of slum areas.
They are closer to death than to life and most of them die on the following days.

We are able to and want to give these people an opportunity to die in a dignified way, bathed and cared for, wearing clean clothing in a freshly made bed accompanied by a helper.

It is amazing though how often our patients recover just through re-hydration, proper nursing care and nutrition.
Then we can prepare them for HAART, Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy.
Doing so we have to treat their tuberculosis first, an opportunistic infection, which almost all of them are suffering from as well.
Succeeding in that these patients can continue to live for many years vigorously enjoying a high quality of life.

The Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard will not solve the problem of AIDS in South Africa, but they show in an exemplary way how it may be done.

An entire people lies in agony here -

and here where I carry dying babies in my arms,
where young people die from AIDS every day - there the people do not just die in my hands, but in my heart as well.

This page is part of the Newsletter No. 26 of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard

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This page was last updated on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 12:50:23