BY MICHAIL RASSOOL
Ten years after its founding, the Blessed Gérard Care Centre in Mandeni, Eshowe diocese, KwaZulu-Natal, has the largest hospice in South Africa for those suffering from Aids.
But the work of the care centre and the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard the Catholic association that brought it about, is now far more complex and diverse, said the Brotherhood's president and care Centre's head, Benedictine Father Gérard Lagleder.
The Brotherhood was founded in 1992 in response to the spiralling levels of HIV/Aids and Aids-related deaths in the area. Mandeni is known as the HIV/Aids Capital of the world, with 76% of its inhabitants infected.
Named in honour of the founder of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta (the Order of Malta), the Brotherhood sought to apply Blessed Gérard's charism to its work.
Sources say Bl Gérard and his successors called the sick "the poor of Christ" or "the holy poor", showing, they were being welcomed as Christ, representing him to those who have the honour to serve them.
It is in the context of such care and service that the hospice loses up to four patients a day, Fr Lagleder said. Many people served by the care centre, he said, are also being cared for in their homes, and the hospice provides ongoing support to home-based caregivers.
He said the hospice also runs an anti-retroviral drugs programme, the third such facility set up by the bishops' Aids Office.
The care centre also has a children's home presently serving 36 children, which include Aids orphans and others, victims of circumstances, including abuse or neglect, while others have disabilities, physical and/or intellectual.
It also runs an HIV/Aids education programme, instructing the public how to avoid HIV infection and how to live positively if one has been infected, and a friendship dub for the elderly.
Fr Lagleder said the Brotherhood has 1810 members doing active work, consisting of donors, volunteers and staff that include a full-time doctor, registered nurses and others.
He said more than 3 500 people have been helped by the care centre over the last decade, and while the Centre's success cannot be measured merely in such terms, the milestone is worth celebrating.
The Southern Cross, October 18 to October 24, 2006
This page is part of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard - Media review
See also: Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard - Newsletter No. 26 - Blessed Gérard's Feast 2006
Back to the homepage of the Brotherhood of Blessed
This page was last updated on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 12:50:23