Personal Addendum

Dear members, benefactors and friends of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard,

The past year 2009 was a major challenge for all of us in many different ways:

Our organisation has not just grown and developed slowly, but exploded. When you look at our statistics with growth rates of up to 30% only within this year 2009, our personnel development to a total number of 84 employees one may think we are not just moving like in car, but speeding in a fighter plane or rocket. The fight against AIDS at a renown hotspot of this pandemic just does not allow us to sit back in complacency and pride about what we have achieved, but we must move forward and do this strategically, rationally, energetically and with our full hearts. Without our hearts we would never have come as far as we have and could never carry on at this pace.

Although all our 84 staff members are good, many very good, and some excellent I have to mention just two staff members who have deserved a special portion of the accolades of praise that are due to all our staff members and hoards of volunteers. These are in order of length of service our medical doctor, Dr. Khaya Nzimande, and our General Manager Mr. Axel Pape. Dr. Nzimande is not just an excellent medical doctor with a profound medical knowledge and permanent aim to update his skills, but very special personality who comes over to his patients like a brother they can trust in, who has understanding and endless patience and on top of it a very refreshing sense of humour and a twinkle of encouragement in his eyes. Our patients adore him and I am sure that all of this is a major reason for the great success of our hospice and its very high occupancy rate and reputation. A kind of "treatment tourism" has developed where people move their residence from far away into our vicinity and a few days later ask for admission into our Hospice and antiretroviral treatment programme. Today our Bishop asked me if we could not admit a relative of another bishop from far away because he heard how well we treat our patients. My gratitude, of course, is due to our entire staff who have all contributed to achieve that fame. Great praise is due to our Home Care Team which made a major development , our Residential Care Team which keeps up with the high pace optimum occupancy demands, our training programme, where Sr. Biyela faithfully prepares a continuous flow of newly trained home carers for their families, communities and as volunteers in our Hospice and last but not least to our HAART team, our special task force which is so highly efficient that even Harry Hine, a student social worker from Germany, came to us to write his dissertation for his masters' degree to find out which social, geographic and other factors influence the efficiency of the AIDS treatment. I am especially proud that last years plan to implement support groups for AIDS patients on HAART have not just been put into action, but superseded by the start of sustainable food supply programmes (community gardens) and income generation programmes like basket making, fruit plantations, chicken farming and individual gardening. Our Therapeutic Counsellor Wiseman Zulu has played an outstanding initiative and role in that, which is absolutely admirable!

The second major reason for my pride and gratitude are the achievements of our General Manager, Mr. Axel Pape, who has been with us for just over one year. With an engineer's mind for decisiveness and precision and an absolutely unmatched amount of diligence, perseverance and well aimed deployment of his energy, Mr. Pape, who was General Manager of a large factory before has adapted to the situation of a very unique and special organisation and has not only kept this huge and divers Care Centre running, but achieved major further developments, especially by spearheading the process towards full accreditation of our Hospice by the Council for Health Services Accreditation of South Africa. Phase one has been successfully completed and the phase two assessment is due early in 2010 and I dream to be able to announce our full accreditation in our next newsletter. Mr. Pape's capabilities were most successfully put to the test when I went onto extended home leave this year from April to July and he manoeuvred our Care Centre most successfully on his own through all the stormy waters.

That enabled me to cut the umbilical cord of the Care Centre Management finally and trust in the intuition of the grown up structure and it works perfectly. I am still close at hand, when advice is needed (mostly through e-mail and a weekly meeting just with the general manager) and have become totally free for my very essential tasks of public relations and foreign fundraising and of course as head of the board of directors. My role as the "Father" of all the children in our Children's Home will also always remain a task which I cannot and will not abdicate for reasons of the emotional security of our 41 children at the ages between 2 and 17. It is more than ten years since Gérard, the first child, whose arrival initiated the development of our children's home, came to us. My fatherly presence is very remote through the security that the children can always approach me when they need a daddy's shoulder to cry onto, and my Saturday afternoons spent with the older children through jointly shopping for supper, and then cooking together, celebrating Holy Mass as a small group of these 8 older children (youths) with our Sisters' Convent in my little chapel next to the office and then having supper together in my lounge. Sundays I usually take each Sunday a different room of the younger children for an outing. We leave after Holy Mass, go to some nice place, make a picnic lunch and then see what activities or attraction the chosen destination has to offer. If we come back "too early" there is always a video or DVD in Father's lounge to watch to ensure the kids get out of the quality time with Father as much as possible.

The fact that my role there can be reduced to these activities is possible through our Children's Home Team under the leadership of Principal Mr. Victor Himunchul and all the child care staff (including Vice-Principal Ntombi Ndlangamandla, Sr. Edith Zulu, Mrs. Mthiyane as qualified child care workers or teachers). Mr. Himunchul had the very difficult task to take over from Susanne Stauffer who had been adored by her children. We are most grateful to him that he started to reorganise  the entire children's home to meet all the needs of the South African Child Care Act in all procedural, hygienic, educational, pedagogical and  legal aspects and one ever has to wonder how a natural family "get away" with all of that through "common sense". Congratulations to Mr. Himunchul and his team that he mastered the achievement of getting through the very critical scrutiny of of the Welfare Department in this past year 2009 with flying colours. Little later the Health Inspector certified our Home as fully complying with all applicable regulations and recommended that our capacity from officially 40 places may be increased to 55 places now since we have added the wing for the older children already last year.

I look very confidently into the future. My only real and great worry is the financial burden that such an institution - highly professionalized to meet the demands of the various accreditation schedules - put onto our organisation. Our running cost has risen tremendously, but the investment is justified, because the higher professional standard finally translates into a better treatment of our patients and a better education of our children. Therefore we have to open up new avenues and every reasonable source to get the funds needed to keep going and developing further in a sustainable manner. We have engaged into quite some online fund-raising ventures using social networking channels like Facebook, XING, Linked in, and others. Future will show if our investment of much time and effort will finally proof itself worthwhile. We avoid too frequent printed circular letters (hence this is an annual newsletter). Therefore this letter is always a bit voluminous, but thank to Stanger Weekly, a local newspaper, and its owner Mr. Ouderaj, who sponsors the printing of our newsletter in their newspaper printing press it looks like a newspaper, but costs us nothing but the fuel for the car to collect the printed newsletters free of charge from their premises.
We have intensified our online correspondence, including online circulars, like recently on Wold AIDS Day. We try to keep our website updated regularly and make daily postings on Facebook.

Our long term strategic goal must become to increase the proportion of local South African donations for sustainability reasons, but at the same time utilise every reasonable avenue to get all the support that we continuously need. Therefore allow me to appeal to you again:

Help us to help!

Yours sincerely

Father Gérard

This page is part of the Newsletter No. 29 of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard

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This page was last updated on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 12:49:48