Blessed Gérard‘s Children’s Home

The atmosphere in both parts of the children’s home is friendly and family-like.

Today, I am going to tell you about life in the group home:

The twelve to sixteen year-old girls and boys live with their care-giver, Sister Edith, a Benedictine nun, in an apartment on the upper floor of the Care Centres. Two young people share each light-filled room and everyone has their own desk. They work together to create a roster for keeping the house in order and plan their meals to cook together. This is an essential part of how they learn and teach each other life skills in preparation for independent life. They do all the housekeeping, laundry, cooking and clearing up, as well as the hundreds of other small tasks that help keep a household in order. They come home from school between 2 and 4 pm, do their homework and finally have some free time to play. Thanks to the generosity of a donor, the children’s home has a piano and every child has piano lessons. Afterwards, the children who are on duty according to the roster prepare dinner for the group and share jokes and stories about their day at school. The children take their meals with perfect table manners. The family atmosphere continues to astonish me. A day spent with these young people is truly a day spent with a happy family. I return to my room each evening filled with positive impressions of these young people.    

The Blessed Gérard‘s Care Centre in Mandini is a place where brotherly love is practiced in daily life. That is true in the hospice and it is true in the children’s home where, right now, 41 children are living.

Today I would like to tell you about the area of the children’s home where the newborn to eleven year-old children live. At the door, I am welcomed by a friendly caregiver.

The main entrance is decorated with brightly-coloured furniture. A team meeting is being held while the children play together. Each of the children’s room is shared by two to five children depending on the size. All of the rooms are light and friendly with views that look out on nature. The beds and comforters are colourful and cozy-looking. The children play movement and hand-clapping games together and seem very happy to be where they are.          

This room is shared by four girls with plenty of room for them to play together.

The room for small children at naptime.                                                        

The day begins at 6am. The youngest children are bathed while the older children shower.  After everyone eats breakfast and brushes their teeth, the school-age children get into their groups so that the mini-buses can take them to their different schools. The have to be ready by 7:30 because school starts at 8:00. The children who are still too young for pre-school stay home and play together. One of the boys and one of the girls need special therapy. All of the caregivers work hand in hand to help all of the children become physically and spiritually stronger.

An educational assistant cares for the school-age children after school in the homework room while the smaller children stay in the playroom. And then, suddenly, all the work is finished and everyone runs for the playground. There is an adventure playground complete with a climbing apparatus. The children also enjoy playing ball, circle games and dancing. Everyone laughs and enjoys themselves. All of the children behave themselves and follow the rules of the playground. And the handicapped children are participating too. Traditional Zulu dancing requires a lot of jumping, as highly as possible, and everyone sings and sings. It is infectious and I join and dance with them.

Once play time is over, the children go to wash their hands. Under close supervision the older children help to prepare dinner for the younger children in the central kitchens. The vitamin-rich, high-protein food is not only healthy but it tastes good! Some of the children in the care of Blessed Gérard‘s Care Centres have been abused, others have already experienced terrible losses. At the care centre they find acceptance, protection, love and education. All of the AIDS patients at the care centre, including the children, receive anti-retroviral medications that can increase life-expectancy by up to 25 years. Combined with the loving care they receive, they can go on to live full and full-filling lives. These children are the real hope in the fight against AIDS.             

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 12:50:22