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Father Gérard, Wayne van Niekerk, Champa Daniel, Desmond Rajamany and Erich Winkler of Loungeweave with the R10,000 cheque the company donated to the Blessed Gérard's Care Centre and Hospice. "We realise that businesses and communities should stand together and help in a way to fight the battle against HIV / AIDS," said Winkler.

Helping the dying

World Aids Day

on the North Coast

It cannot be easy living with HIV / AIDS in a community where very little is known about the disease, and people are shunned.

That is why the volunteers from Blessed Gérard's Care Centre and Hospice have made their mission to help the dying. One Patient dies every second day in Blessed Gérard's Hospice - and each one has been given back the dignity and support they could not find in their communities.

According to Father Gérard the hospice and care centre operates 12 different programmes within the greater Mandini community. These include a first aid and emergency service, pre-primary and crèche facilities, a children's home, community development projects, Aids education, a relief fund, feeding schemes, a poor sick fund and disaster relief projects.

The amazing part is that every programme is run entirely on donations and with the help of local doctors, government hospitals and private organisations.

The children's home was set up when the volunteers realised that there was a great need in the area. Many of the patients who were dying of Aids had very young babies who were left orphaned. Some of the families didn't want to take the responsibilities of raising an HIV positive child, and they were brought to Blessed Gérard's Children's Home.

Now the need has become too great and the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard is planning to expand their wards to accommodate more children. So far the costs stand at R3,2 million, and the hospice has already raised R2 million.

The care centre operates on four levels. Firstly the volunteers train people in the community to become home carers and in home nursing. With that training they can go back to their communities and help the sick while keeping contact with Blessed Gérard's Care Centre and Hospice.

So far Blessed Gérard's Care Centre has trained 151 home carers of which around 30 regularly help out at the hospice as well. The training course runs for a full week. In total the hospice has 400 active members who work in shifts of 15 people.

They also offer a mobile home nursing programme where volunteers are actively involved in visiting the sick and making sure that they take their medication, as with the DOTS treatment for TB.

A day care centre caters for patients who come in on a daily basis and return to their homes at the end of the day. The inpatient unit helps patients to recover from various illnesses. At the moment Blessed Gérard's Care Centre and Hospice has 21 beds for adults and Blessed Gérard's Children's Home has 11 beds for children.

"We have a very holistic approach - we try to heal the body, mind and soul. We do not discriminate against race, religion, colour, sex or class."

"We are also not a company or business - therefore we are not in competition with private or government hospitals or doctors. We merely provide auxiliary care free of charge to all our patients," said Father Gérard.

Anyone intersted in helping Blessed Gérard whether it involves the children's home, hospice or care centre can contact the hospice on (032) 456 2743.

Employees at Loungefurn Industries (Pty) Ltd in Mandini had the opportunity last Friday to learn more about HIV / AIDS. They were visited by a representative from the Blessed Gérard's Care Centre and Hospice, Clare Kalkwarf who taught them more about living and dealing with HIV / AIDS.

the north coast courier · No 692 Vol 17 · Friday December 7, 2001

Minor corrections of the original have been made for this online edition, which are marked by using Italics.

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