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Blessed Gérard's Care Centre
is a haven for the old, sick and needy where special prayers are remedies.

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The newly completed Blessed Gérard's Care Centre in Mandeni.

The Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard care centre in Mandeni was officially opened last week and will cater for the medical care of the needy in the community.

The resident priest at Mandeni Father Gérard insists that the care centre is not a hospital but aims to bridge the gap between hospital care and home. It will help patients who have been discharged from hospital but who cannot yet look after themselves.

It will also help sick people who need care at home but cannot he hospitalised [e.g.] for financial reasons.

'The care centre will not operate as a hospital but will provide auxiliary care to the medical treatment of the patients' doctors or hospital,' explained Father Gérard.

The Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard [is a relief organisation of the Order of Malta, which] has a long history and was started 900 years ago by Blessed Gérard Tonque who operated a guest house next to the Benedictine Monastery in Jerusalem.

'The Benedictine Monastery [was next to the Holy Sepulchre] where Jesus died and was buried. Christians would make pilgrimages to the [Holy Sepulchre and stay in the] monastery. [Having travelled] by horse back [they] would be tired and sick when they arrived. Brother Gérard would take care of them and make them well again,' explained Father Gérard of Mandeni.

The care centre will operate on a 'four-leaf-clover' concept. The first leaf involves training in home nursing. The centre will teach the family how to take care of the ill at home and will include bed baths, changing linen and some first aid.

Mobile home nursing teams will travel into the community and help those that are sick. It will also act as a backup to the training to ensure that the home nursing is being practised properly. The second leaf will he a day care centre which will provide elderly or retired people with a place to stay while family members are at work.

We don't want people to stop work because they have to take care of their old, sick mother. Rather they can he dropped off for the day and enjoy an environment similar to home and at the same get out and meet other people,' said Father Gérard. The third leaf is an inpatient unit where patients can be admitted to the centre for a short while to be monitored.

'We don't call them wards because the care centre is not a hospital. The patient can he brought here and can be transferred to a hospital if needs be,' Father Gérard said.

The centre's fourth leaf is hospice care for those who are terminally ill. The centre will provide the extra care and attention required in their last days and will also he able to give the family members support and advice.

The centre will be [run by] a non-profit organisation [i.e. the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard] and will rely on the voluntary service of its members. It is a charity society dedicated to the common good and welfare of all people.

'Our motto is: 'Protection of faith and service to the poor'. We will serve the needy irrespective of their creed, sex, race or political affiliation. The centre is based on the idea that we work towards the alleviation of suffering and make the misery of the world bearable,' he said.

While the care centre continues the long association between the church and the healing of the sick, the Brotherhood is also involved in other community projects including education, community development, feeding schemes and health education.

'We offer sewing classes so that people can learn to help themselves. We are also [wanting to get] involved in gardening projects and have started [a] crèche to ensure that the younger generation have the opportunity to learn,' said Father Gérard.

The Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard aims at ending the vicious circle of poverty, lack of education, unemployment, hunger and sickness.

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Some of the Dedicated members of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard laying the foundation stone.


the north coast courier · No 432 Volume 11 · Friday September 13, 1996

The original article has been corrected for this online edition. Corrections are added in [brackets].


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