Orphans and the needy are loved and cared for at Blessed Gérard's Care Centre and Children's Home in Mandeni. The Courier's Louisa Stranack met these extraordinary missionaries.
Clare Kalkwarf, founder member of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard, with some of the children outside the home in Mandeni.
Orphans and the needy are loved and cared for at Blessed Gérard's Care Centre and Children's Home in Mandeni.
When Father Gérard Lagleder, president of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard, was sent from Germany to Mandeni in 1990 to do missionary work he quickly realised that he could not minister to the spiritual needs of the people and neglect their physical needs.
In 1992 the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard, the South African relief organisation of the Order of Malta was formed.
The organisation formed by Catholic Church members in Mandeni is named after Blessed Gérard, a Benedictine monk who founded the oldest hospital order of the Catholic Church, the Order of Malta, in Jerusalem 900 years ago.
"Here in Mandeni people are very poor and most are infected or affected by AIDS. The members of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard are tackling the problem by breaking the cycle of poverty and educating people on how to care for themselves and others that are sick or suffering," Father Lagleder said.
"To break the cycle of poverty, educational, employment, hunger and health needs of the people have to be addressed," he said.
To do this members of the community were consulted and the areas of greatest need were catered for. This Care Centre and Hospice was opened in 1996.
"We are not an isolated group doing things on our own, we work together with doctors, social workers, other aid organisations and members of the community. We are affiliated to the oldest relief organisation, the Order of Malta, which has international status and because of this we are also called to help in disasters such as the Mozambique floods," said Father Lagleder.
Clare Kalkwarf, vice president of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard and manageress of the Care Centre and Hospice, said that because of the greatly increased AIDS problem over the last eight years in the area and the inability of state hospitals to cope with all the people who are dying, patients are sent home to die. They are often ostracised and left to die neglected and alone.
"We teach people how to live with AIDS and provide dignity in death when they do die," Mrs. Kalkwarf said.
This unique Care Centre and Hospice offers First World care, and serves over 250000 people around Mandeni.
"We can't do it all, but whatever we do we do properly. We make people responsible for themselves," said Mrs. Kalkwarf.
The Blessed Gérard's Children's Home cares for the needs of the growing numbers of neglected, abandoned, abused or orphaned children.
Because of increased needs, construction to enlarge the centre and Children's Home is under way and will be completed in November.
To continue doing good work in the community, the centre needs your help.
It costs them 150 Rand to house one person per day and the centre relies on donations.
"We rely on donations and look for the support of the community. You can help by becoming an active member of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard, donate money on a regular basis or become and spiritual supporter and pray," said Father Gérard Lagleder.
Although Catholic based the needs of the people in the community who need it most are met, regardless of religion or race.
For more information visit URL http://bbg.org.za or phone 032-456 2743.
Clare Kalkwarf manageress of the Children's Home holds one of the abandoned babies, named Sindisiwe (meaning she has been saved).
the north coast courier ˇ No 729 Vol 18 ˇ Friday August 30, 2002
Minor corrections of the original have been made for this online edition, which are marked by using Italics.
This page is part of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard - Media review
Blessed Gérard's Care Centre, Mandeni, kwaZulu/Natal, South Africa
No matter what ... We care! Blessed Gérard's Hospice, Mandeni, kwaZulu/Natal, South Africa
Blessed Gérard's Children's Home
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