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Care centre celebrates 10 years

The Blessed Gérard's Care Centre held its 10th anniversary celebration on Sunday.
Nokuthula Thabethe, Caroline Beaumont, Susanne Stauffer and Dr Paul Thabethe together with the late Clare Kalkwarf (second picture) were honoured for their hard work and dedication, by Father Gérard Lagleder (middle)

By Samona Murugan

The Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard is the South African Relief Organisation of the Order of Malta and runs 12 charitable projects from their headquarters at Blessed Gérard’s Care Centre in Mandeni. The organisation celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Blessing and opening of Blessed Gérard’s Care Centre on 15th October 2006.

It was at this occasion that five members of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard were honoured.

The members Susanne Stauffer, Caroline Beaumont husband and wife Dr Paul and Nokuthula Thabethe and the late Clare Kalkwarf received prestigious awards for their work and commitment to the church and the church’s care centre.

The organisation provides amongst other projects care for children and people suffering with AIDS. Some of the orphans in the centre are abandoned and abused children brought in by social workers, policemen and families who cannot take care of them. There are currently 36 children aged from four weeks to fourteen years in the care centre.

Sunday’s occasion also included the opening of a new dining hall and study room for the centre’s Children’s Home. “The dining hall seats 40 children and the study room makes the children’s homework sessions much easier,” said church director Father Gerard Lagleder.

Paying tribute to Stauffer, Father Lagleder said she first came to Mandeni from Germany as a foreign volunteer and joined Blessed Gérard’s Care Centre in September 2004. Two years later she received the organisations’ president’s award for her excellent care of the children in the care centre. Stauffer was made principal of the children’s home in June 2005. “Her love for the children and her astonishing work within the children’s home made her a great asset to the Brotherhood. In April 2006 Stauffer was invited by the council of the dedicated members to act as a dedicated member of the Brotherhood. Four months later she was made vice-manager of the organisation.

The second member to be honoured - Caroline Beaumont - received the silver medal of the Order of Merit of the Order of Malta for her “outstanding loyalty, diligence and efficiency first as the organisation’s secretary for the past 13 years,” said Father Lagleder. Beaumont is a bearer of the ‘badge of honour’ of the organisation and was the first recipient of the president’s award in 2000. “She has not only been the longest serving employee at the Brotherhood, but also a very loyal, steady and reliable column of continuity, good spirit and a real hard worker,” said Father Lagleder.

Husband and wife co-founders of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gerard, Nokuthula and Dr Paul Thabethe both received the cross of the order of merit of the Order of Malta. Nokuthula is a professional nurse has been the Director of Charity of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard since 1992 and started a malnutrition clinic for patients in 1993. “Dr Thabethe has been the organisation’s medical superintendent since 1992 and it is due to his endless hours of dedication and commitment that the organisation’s HAART (Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy) - programme has developed sustainably and has become a pioneer project in the country. He is now the vice-director of Blessed Gérard’s Care Centre and heads its HIV/AIDS education programme since its inception in 1994.

And lastly the late Clare Kalkwarf, who was murdered in April this year, was awarded the most valuable and rarest decoration in the Order of Malta, the gold medal of merit of the order of Malta. “The gold medal is reserved for those who have participated in our activities putting their life in danger and indeed she was not only murdered in her uniform, but she had sacrificed her life in total dedication to her vocation in the Order of Malta,” said Father Lagleder. She was a co-founder, vice-president and manager of the organisation; vice-director of the care centre; project manager of the organisation’s hospice HAART programme, the children’s home, the community development centre, and the bursary fund, poor sick fund and relief fund. She lived in Mandeni for the past 22 years and was also a catechism teacher, a parishioner, a board member of CATHCA (the Catholic Health Care Association) and a member of the inter-diocesan Aids committee of the Catholic Church in KwaZulu-Natal. “There could hardly be anybody more loyal and dedicated to our church than her,” he said.

The North Coast Courier, Friday, October 20, 2006, Page 8

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

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