February 27, 2009
A father to 41 children
Forty-one children are currently given the chance of a brighter future because of the care and dedication of Blessed Gérardés Children's Home in Mandeni.
Director of the centre, Father Gérard Lagleder said that there was a need for a children's home in the area.
In 2000 it was decided that a few wards from the hospice could be borrowed from the hospice to create a quasi-children's home to care for orphaned and vulnerable children from the surrounding Ilembe district.
As the number of children under their care grew it became clear that a more permanent home needed to be created.
"One of the reasons we built onto the home was so we could put the older children there to live as an independent family group. They have a nun who cares for them but they cook, clean and wash up for themselves," said Father Gérard.
He said in this way, they would be better able to care for themselves when they ventured out into the world on their own.
Father Gérard said that all the children who are old enough attend public schools or Mandeni Academy. He said that despite the high expense of sending so many children to school, providing them with education is essential.
"We must help them to help themselves and we must empower them," said Father Gérard.
He also believes that providing the children with a stable environment for as long as they need is important.
"Before we began the children's home it was decided that we wanted it to be a real home for these children. They will stay with us until they are able to take care and support themselves. There's no cut off date because of their age," said Father G´2rard.
One child in particular has been staying at the home since it was first opened and is thriving in the loving environment.
"These children consider me to be their father and even though I'm a Catholic priest, I have 41 children," said Father Gérard.
ABOVE: Father Gérard and some of the children are pictured here with volunteer worker Hlengiwe Nyakeni and principal of the children's home Victor Himunchul.
The North Coast Courier, February 27, 2009, Page 12
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