CATHOLIC HEALTH CARE ASSOCIATION

NEWSLETTER

 SOUTHERN AFRICA

 DECEMBER 2006


NEWS FROM THE REGIONS

KwaZulu Natal

Mandeni: Blessed Gérard's Care Centre in Mandeni recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. Deacon Thomas Müller and his wife Angelika, are from Hildesheim in Germany and have come as volunteers to work in the Care Centre. Thomas writes:

"It was more than ten years ago that five courageous people started to do something against the indescribable misery in this part of KwaZulu Natal. 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. 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. It has one of largest hospices in 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.

Angelika 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, and often also out of informal areas.

The patients are often closer to death than to life and most of them die on the following days. In the hospice we are able to give the patients 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. And here Angelika carries a dying baby in her 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."


CATHCA ˇ CATHOLIC HEALTH CARE ASSOCIATION ˇ NEWSLETTER ˇ SOUTHERN AFRICA ˇ DECEMBER 2006 ˇ Pages 4-5

Corrections of the original had to be made for this online edition, which are marked by using Italics.


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