LETTER FOR CHRISTMAS 2012

Dear All,

Greetings from Kurisanani. We would like to wish you a very Happy and Blessed Christmas.

I would like also to take this opportunity to thank you all for your commitment to those most vulnerable because of HIV and Aids. As 2012 draws to a close, I would like to give you some insight of the events that have been happening across the Diocese.I wrote this reflection on the 5th of December. I used the Gospel of the day which was the five loaves and two fish. (Matthew 15:29-37)

Mother Teresa said about Jesus, ‘He uses us to be his love and compassion in the world in spite of our weaknesses and frailties.’ In this miracle, Jesus does not produce food out of nowhere. He takes the little that the apostles have, and he multiplies it a thousand fold. No matter how little I think I have to give, once I freely place my gifts in Jesus’ service they become limitless.

So pause for a moment.

Think of one your patients or one of your orphans and most vulnerable children.   Recall someone from one of your support groups. Remember one of the mothers and babies who may have stayed at the shelter for some nights, one of the boys who found their way to the boy’s shelter.   Think of one of those who are your care at one or other of the care centers. Maybe it could be someone who calls to your front door asking for help.

These are the ones with whom we have walked this year. These are the ones, who have benefited from many services, which thanks to our funders we have been able to provide.

These remain our focus in the midst of this time of transition.  A time when we know that the access to funding becomes more difficult. A time when we know that funding ends and as a result the sadness which this brings. I am referring in particularly here to the PEPFAR grant. This ends in May 2013.

 The move to transferring patients to Government sites has already begun. The process involved is hard work, and I know is been carried out in a caring and compassionate way. Many of these patients have been attending our clinics since 2004. Therefore, they are not just a number on a piece of paper.  There have been many meetings, which we have attended at District and site levels to plan for this transition.

 During the month of September, Sr. Alison Munro and Theresa Bossert from SACBC visited the Diocese. The purpose was part of Sr. Alison’s monitoring and evaluation of the project, which she oversees at country level. She visited Musina, St. Joseph’s clinic at Sibasa, Bakhita village, Holy Family Tzaneen and Motupa clinics, Sacred Heart admin offices at Louis Trichardt and Mokgolobotho drop-in centre. She had a meeting with the ART site managers and finally met with Bishop Joao.

 

Pause and reflect on one of your patients that you cared for this year.

The orphans and vulnerable children programme funded under the PEPFAR grant has seen developments. At the start of the year, I visited with the CRS M&E team looking at the setting up of a child data system. When I reflect on that first trip to sites, I did wonder if we would make it.   We have made it and the system installed will help all the sites.  We are on a new learning phase with this system.  During the year, training took place in psychosocial skills and how to develop work plans to ensure that services provided  are to those most in need.  Throughout the year there have been many opportunities for once-off funding and many orphans and vulnerable children have been helped.

Pause and reflect on one of your events that took place at your site during the year.

There are, across the Diocese, support groups where people living with HIV and AIDS meet. I am thinking of Modjadjiskloof Parish and Nzhelele Parish. These groups provide a safe place for people to share about the struggles of their lives. There is also an opportunity to share their faith.  Here also there are home based care programmes, where homes visits form part of the plans made by the parish response teams. Funding for Modjadjiskloof Home Based Care programme comes via SACBC from Global Fund.

Pause – there may have been a scripture passage or a sharing from the lives of one of the people that touched your heart this year.

There are two vulnerable places in the Diocese where a ministry is been carried out in a very quiet and gentle way. I say that because they do not receive the funding, which all the other sites receive. Personnel is small and voluntary. I am referring to the service to displaced and migrant people who pass through the Diocese on their way to other places in South Africa.  This year there has been an increase in other nationals especially people from the Congo.

In Musina the shelter for women is still open. During  this year, Fr. Michael Bennett and I have made visits to the shelter. We have kept contact with the other agencies working in and around Musina. Thanks to a once-off funding from Catholic Relief Services, we have been able to supply food for a few more months. The situation there is very vulnerable. During the year there have been some deaths of women and only in the last few months the death of a baby whose body was found in the rubbish bin caused heartache and sadness for all concerned.

In Louis Trichardt, collaboration between the MSC priest and the Bon Secour Sisters means that 30 + boys, who have come from Zimbabwe and have been living rough, receive shelter and food. The boys attend school and this year have achieved very well. When I visited the shelter recently, I reflected on its location at the edge of town, a place out of sight out of mind. A place similar in location to that where, perhaps in Jesus’ time on earth, lepers lived. In the next few weeks, there are plans to move the boys to another shelter registered with the government. The involvement of the sisters will continue.

There are expectations of an election in Zimbabwe during 2013. The last time this happened there was an influx of people into SA. It is an unknown but contingency plans are been made by the relevant agencies if a similar situation occurs.

Pause –  as we move to the celebration of the Birth of Jesus Christ, remember he too was a displaced, migrant person at a very early age. Pope Benedict’s message for Migrants and Displaced people for 2013 is on the Vatican web site. www.thevatican

The two care centres in the Diocese are linked to us here at Kurisanani:  Bakhita (which receives Global Funding)  and Holy Family where children living there are part of the Anti-Retroviral programme. Plans will be made early in the year for the children who are on the treatment programme to start receiving their treatment from the local government clinic.

The big news for Bakhita is that they have been approved for a once-off funding for renovations.

Pause and remember all those who have been cared for within these centres.

 The construction of ten two room’s houses in local villages from once-off funding gave security to many vulnerable people. We are very grateful to all who helped make this project possible, the funders and those who identified the needy.

Thank you

I would like to thank the staff here at Kurisanani for their ongoing support for all the projects, which are coordinated from this office.  2012 has been another busy year. We thank God for His blessings to us, keeping us safe on the roads, giving us the courage to face many situations which we never thought we had to face, for the many events which have taken place here.  Thank you.

In the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, I am reminded that Jesus can also provide spiritual sustenance beyond my imagining. There is a mysterious disproportion between what I give and what the Lord makes of it.

 

I remain yours sincerely

 

Sr. Anita O’Leary ssjg