A gift from heaven

Siphosenkosi was his name.

That is Zulu and means "Gift of the Lord" and we called him shortly "Sipho".

Sipho came to us on 2nd October 2003 one-and-a-half years old. The social worker of Stanger Hospital looked for a place for an HIV positive orphan suffering from tuberculosis. We accepted him of course. The mother was unknown and the father did not care about his son. Later we heard that he had passed away from AIDS.

It took a long time to treat his tuberculosis and he had terrible skin problems at the beginning. Later he recoverd through the treatment of his opportunistic infections, through good nutrition and lots of tender loving care which we could give to him.

He continuously gained new strength and was soon discharged from our hospice and then he lived in our children's home under the same roof.


He developed quite well and grew up like any other child. He only was always quite unobtrusive and a bit shy.

Christmas 2004 with Susanne Stauffer


8th July 2005 with Gabi Rauecker 31st October 2005 29th November 2005


27th August 2006 6th September 2006 with Angelika Müller 15th October 2006


It was in January 2007 that Sipho was ready to go to pre-primary school. He thoroughly enjoyed this.

15th March 2007 21st June 2007 with Max Rauecker

Angelika Müller reports:

11th July 2007: It is a totally normal work day for me. I start my day at 6:45 a.m. with the nursing conference. Then I go to the children's ward and check how "my" children are feeling as I had been off duty for two days. Sipho is there.

Sipho is now five years old. Is is not feeling so well. Therefore he is supposed to recover here in the hospice for a few days and regain his strength.

Well, I go to his bed and greet him. He seems to be happy, as he knows me and this is not the first time that he is admitted to the hospice and I had been helping in the children's home before. Therefore we are used to one another.

Then I start the daily morning routine of hygiene. I am lucky that my paediatric ward has a bathroom with a bath tub, not just a shower. Thus all children can have a bath to begin with. That usually takes quite some time as the little ones absolutely love bathing and especially to play in the tub. That is what they may and should do. Afterwards there is breakfast time and Sipho also eats a little bit.

Meanwhile Father Gerard tries all in his power to enable Sipho to receive antiretroviral treatment to improve his quality of life in this way. This is not really easy for legal reasons.

The following weeks are a permanent up and down. One day he is a bit better. That is when he eats and drinks and we can play or he draws something. There are other days when he feels bad again, has difficulties swallowing his medication and refuses to eat and drink. As his health does not improve any more our doctor decides to transfer him to hospital.

Sister Sheilagh and I go with him to Stanger Hospital. It is very crowded there as usual and because the doctors are at breakfast at the moment we have to wait. Finally a very nice doctor is coming and we tell her everything. She examines Sipho and takes blood and we have to wait again (for the results). When the results lastly arrive another doctor examines Sipho again. Then they tell us that they will admit Sipho for the time being and that his prognosis would not be very well. First he gets an intravenous infusion and is transferred to the paediatric ward. We go back to the Care Centre.

Susanne Stauffer and Father Gerard  visit Sipho every evening at the Hospital and look how he is doing. Unfortunately his state of health deteriorates progressively and it does not look good. He keeps uttering three wishes: He asks for sweets, water and to sit on our laps. We gladly fulfilled these last wishes.

Father Gerard finally jumped all hurdles through the assistance of Mandeni's Social Worker, our member  Helma Lintvelt, and was granted legal guardianship by the children's court in Mtunzini, which enables him to agree to putting Sipho onto antiretroviral treatment, as this is not possible without consent of the legal guardian, of course. Unfortunately this came too late for him. He died on 3rd September 2007 only two days after he had started receiving antiretroviral treatment.

Our last pictures of Sipho on 1st September 2007, two days before he died.

There are may people who die in our hospice, including children, but Sipho was the first child from our children's home, who died. It was a matter of course that we held the funeral service on 7th September 2007 with the whole community of the Children's Home. All children and the caregivers were there, when Father Gerard celebrated the requiem mass at Blessed Gerard's Church.

All children were invited after the sermon to write down a farewell note for Sipho and to lay the papers down at his picture next to the coffin.

Susanne Stauffer lit candle at the Easter Candle for every note that was laid down and placed it round a red heart next to the coffin as a symbol for the love which unites us with Sipho and God. May perpetual light shine unto him!

All of us went together with several vehicles to the grave yard of Inkamana Abbey where Father Gerard buried him.

This page is part of the Newsletter No. 27 of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard

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This page was last updated on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 12:50:19