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These children now have a pre-primary school / crèche building thanks to the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard. The community originally asked for just a crèche, but the Brotherhood decided to go one better, and build a pre-school as well.

Catholic brotherhood goes the extra mile in relief for the poor

Special Correspondent

WHEN the poor rural community of Whebede north of the Tugela river in KwaZulu-Natal approached a Catholic relief organisation for assistance in setting up a crèche two years ago, the organisation decided to take the idea one step further. After successfully canvassing for donations, the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard built a pre-primary school and crèche for the community.

Donations were received from the Action of the Three Knights and the Malteser Hilfsdienst, both of Germany, a Swiss foundation and from Daniel E Meehan, Milwaukee in the United States.

Welcomed by the brotherhood's president, Fr Gérard Lagleder, Mr Meehan was among those who opened the complex at a ceremony which also included a blessing by Bishop Mansuet Biyase of Eshowe.

Also present were Dr Albrecht Graf von Rechberg, co-ordinator for the help of the Malteser Hilfsdienst, Manfred Schulz, national director of the Hilfsdienst in Bavaria, and Ruby Martin, a former government minister in the state of Virginia.

Before the brotherhood had raised sufficient funds, a partitioned off section of a church housed, with Bishop Biyase's permission, the pre-primary school/crèche.

The facility will now move into the new building, which has been equipped with the necessary equipment.

A source of concern, however, remains the lack of a constant water supply. As soon as more finance becomes available the rainwater tank will be replaced with a borehole.

The Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard is a non-profit relief organisation of the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta in Rome. Sanctioned by Bishop Biyase, the Brotherhood is based in Mandini, and offers a voluntary service to provide people with the opportunity to become independent of charity and even become helpers themselves.

A secondary aim is to provide direct aid in cases of emergency and immediate need.

Among other projects the Brotherhood is running are a friendship club for senior citizens, a Malnutrition Clinic, a sewing school for underprivileged children, a fund for sick people, a bursary fund, an AIDS Education programme, and an emergency fund for immediate relief.

THE SOUTHERN CROSS · Sunday, August 27, 1995

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