Godfrey Sieber OSB
Chronicle of the Inkamana Abbey and Zululand Mission
Year 2000

3. Schools and Social Work

Running schools and hospitals was a major part of missionary work in former times. This changed twenty-five years ago when all hospitals and most schools in the Diocese of Eshowe were handed over to the government. The health service in South Africa is now almost exclusively the responsibility of the government. It has deteriorated in recent years and there were reports of unprofessional behaviour of the nursing staff. Absenteeism and pilfering are major problems. The World Health Organisation ranked South Africa's health services 175th out of 191 countries ( SUNDAY TIMES 31-12-2000).

Even though the Church is not so much involved anymore in the provision of health care as in former times, social work in the wider sense of the word remains part of the missionary apostolate. Included in this are the running of orphanages and children's creches and a variety of small-scale development projects like organizing literacy classes and teaching basic skills such as sewing and gardening. The Church makes also funds available to enable poor parents to send their children to school. In recent years, a more specialized service has emerged in the Church's response to the Aids epidemic which has spread at an alarming rate in Zululand.

There are two centres in the Diocese of Eshowe that serve terminally ill patients and help their families to cope with this situation: the Holy Cross Care Centre, started in 1999, and the Blessed Gerard Care Centre and Hospice at Mandeni. ... Fr Gerard Lagleder, the director of the Blessed Gerard Care Centre at Mandeni, works closely together with the local clinics and doctors, the hospices in Empangeni and Durban and the South African Cancer Association. The ever rising number of patients who come to the Blessed Gerard Care Centre made it necessary to extend the existing building by adding a High-Care-Ward and additional utility rooms as well as a new laundry and mortuary. The first floor of the new wing houses a community development centre. It has ample space to accommodate sewing classes and other activities.

Fr Gerard Lagleder founded the Blessed Gerard Care Centre in his capacity as Magistral Chaplain of the Order of Malta. In 2000, he added two new projects to the Centre: the Blessed Gerard Disaster Relief Project and the Blessed Gerard's Children's Home. The Grand Hospitaller of the Order of Malta, Albrecht Baron Boeselager, was present when the two projects were launched. The first test for the Disaster Relief Project came when the Emergency Corps of the Order of Malta (ECOM) requested some help during the flood disaster in Mozambique. Fr Gerard arranged that one of his teams was airlifted to Mozambique together with an emergency vehicle. Fr Gerard also sent volunteers of the "Brotherhood of Blessed Gerard" from Mandeni to Rome to help other members of the Order of Malta in their efforts to set up First Aid Stations in the Holy City during the jubilee year 2000. Two teams from Mandeni, each consisting of four volunteers, spent altogether a fortnight in Rome providing First Aid to pilgrims and visitors.

quoted from: Godfrey Sieber OSB: "Chronicle of the Inkamana Abbey and Zululand Mission" Year 2000 = Chronicle of the Benedictine Congregation of St. Ottilien, Volume 72, 2001 (Pages 36-38)

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