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Blessed Gérard's Care Centre takes care of the sick at no charge

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FATHER Gérard (extreme right) and Clare Kalkwarf with a patient and trained volunteers. The centre provides free care for the sick and frail.

Stanger Weekly Reporter

Blessed Gérard's Care Centre is a unique establishment being run by members of The Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard at Mandini.

Although Catholic priest Father Gérard is one of the pioneers of the project, the centre is not named after him.

"Blessed Gérard was in charge of a hospital in Jerusalem over 900 years ago and I am named after him," the dynamic Father Gérard said.

Five years after the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard was formed at Mandini, its membership today stands at 452 members both locally and internationally.

The Care Centre aims at bridging the gap between the hospital and the home and helps patients discharged from hospital who cannot look after themselves.

It also helps patients who need care at home.

The centre has a fourfold function, said manager Clare Kalkwarf.

It serves as a training centre for family members in home nursing care, it has mobile nursing teams who support the family through hands-on training and acts as a day care centre for sick people.

Family members of sick people need not give up their jobs to avail themselves for nursing a sick relative.

They can bring the patient to the centre before going to work and fetch them after work.

The patient in the meanwhile is involved in occupational therapy and recreational activities to prevent boredom and the feeling of being unwanted.

The centre also provides inpatient care as a last resort where a patient cannot get any care from family members.

Caring staff and trained volunteers also provide hospice care for terminally ill patients.

Besides the care centre, the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard also runs a bursary fund, a crèche, a sewing school, a feeding-scheme, an aids Education programme and a friendship club.

The success of the projects and the high standard maintained at the care centre can only be attributed to hard work and dedicated members.

It all started when Father Gérard was approached by a poor family for assistance.

"They were very destitute and had no food to eat. "I asked Mrs Kalkwarf, who was a parish member to assist the family.

"Within days the people of Mandini donated food and clothes to the destitute family and I realised that these people had the capacity to give and make a difference to the lives of others," Father Gérard said.

The Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard was formed with Mrs Kalkwarf and her husband Geoff, Dr Paul and Sister Nokuthula Thabethe and Father Gérard.

The large, spacious centre, equipped with modern furniture and fittings with a larger-than-life mural of Blessed Gérard painted on its walls, is testament to the generosity of the people.

The projects run purely on donations.

Patients at the centre are not charged.

People wishing to assist the Brotherhood can help by asking God to bless its service, by donating money to the various charities or by joining the Brotherhood.

Active members can participate in projects and donors may support the service financially on a regular basis.

To contact the Brotherhood call 032-456 2743.

STANGER Weekly · April 25 1997

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