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R3-million care centre for Mandeni

Dave Savides

A R3-million medical care centre will open its doors in Mandeni on September 3, thanks to a priest who lived in Jerusalem 900 years ago.

Blessed Gérard's Care Centre, located on Anderson Road, has a direct link to Brother Blessed Gérard Tonque, founder of the Order of the Knights of Malta.

A non-profit charity organisation based on the voluntary services and contributions of its members, the brotherhood aims to 'serve the poor and bring God's love to the needy through service'.

At the helm of the Mandeni care centre, essentially a link between hospitals and the home, is parish priest Father Gérard (named after his illustrious predecessor) and manager Clare Kalkwarf.

'We are the only branch of the order in South Africa, and although we are an international organisation we have full autonomy and are by no means restricted to members of the Catholic faith,' said Fr Gérard.

'We will help anyone and receive the help of anyone.' Founded in October 1992, the Mandeni chapter has laboured hard to reach what many had termed a pipe dream.

Thanks to generous donations from overseas contributors and the tireless efforts of the local team comprising Fr Gérard, Clare and her husband Geoff, Dr Paul Thabethe and his nursing sister spouse Nokuthula, the magnificent new care centre is in the last throes of its preparation.

This has been achieved without civic or State financial assistance and is based on the Hospice concept.

'Essentially the flagship of a much wider community help programme, the centre has a fourfold function,' Fr Gérard said.

'We will train family members and others in home nursing care and related fields; we will set up mobile nursing teams; we will act as a day care centre for the sick to free their families; and we will provide temporary general nursing through an inpatient unit, mostly for the terminally ill.

'There is a desperate need for an institution like this, as there is no hospital and only a handful of doctors in an area of over 100 000 people.

'This is not a clinic or hospital, but the home care enablement it provides will be a vast step to alleviate the sufferings and improve the quality of life of many.

'Essentially, we are helping people to help themselves.'

The three-level centre, designed by architect member Leon Kalkwarf, boasts a 20-bed in-patient unit with a chapel as the focal point.

Other features include a lounge, dining room, kitchen, laundry, morgue, training room and flatlets to accommodate visitors.

The emphasis is on warmth and friendliness.

In addition, the Mandeni brotherhood offers: a Malnutrition Clinic, a friendship club, an aids Education programme, a pre-primary school and crèche, a poor-sick fund, a bursary fund and emergency aid fund.

'We try to break the circle of poverty, lack of education, unemployment, hunger and sickness, concentrating on quality rather than quantity.'

A typical example is the sewing school where 10 women are learning skills which will earn them a living.

The Mandeni group recently took possession of a brand new ambulance.

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Father Gérard Lagleder and Clare Kalkwarf proudly display the centre's new ambulance


ZULULAND OBSERVER · VOL. 28  No. 34  AUGUST 23 1996


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