A Brief History of M-CARE from 2009 into 2018
At a Diocesan meeting (Dundee Diocese, South Africa) that took place in the Diocesan Pastoral Centre of Pax Christi, Newcastle, on 26th November 2009, one of the matters discussed was the proposal of dividing the organising and administration of HIV/AIDS projects into the southern Kwazulu-Natal Province and the northern Mpumalanga Province.
To discuss the proposal further, and to make decisions on this, a meeting was arranged for the 15th December 2009 in the Mpumalanga Province, at Christ the King Parish, Evander.
At this meeting the good work was praised that was being undertaken by the stalwart volunteers of the Home Based Care Groups formed in 2005. Over 50 of the Home Based Carers were present at this meeting.
Figure 2 some of the MDUDUZI children and Volunteers 2017
It was accepted that the group, or the “Project” that would be an umbrella Project to coordinate and further the work, be named M-CARE i.e. Mpumalanga Catholic Aids Response. Fr. Gerald Gostling was mandated to make application to the Department of Social Development to have the M-CARE Project registered as an NPO (Non Profit Organisation). With this in view a Committee was formed and the Constitution drawn up.
The three prime movers in encouraging this very practical step of forming M-CARE are Zandile Khoza, who continues as coordinator of the Yakhumndeni Aids Project in the KZN part of the Diocese, Fr Peter Cullen, the Director of Yakhumndeni, and Johan Viljoen who at that time worked as part of the AIDS DESK of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference housed at Kanya House in Pretoria. These three were present at the meeting.
M-CARE was entered into the Register on 22 February 2012. Registration – no: 099-747-NPO
Figure 3. M-CARE Registration Certificate
We encountered a few set-backs during the time of application, both on the side of the DSD (Department of Social Development) and our own. For example we needed two minor, yet necessary, amendments to the constitution, and then one of our Committee members moved from the area, and two key members of the Committee died. Hence the delay. But we persevered and we are now registered.
AND BEFORE 2009?
In the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) area of our Diocese of Dundee the Yakhumndeni Project for HIV/AIDS and OVC (Orphans and Vulnerable Children) has been operating for several years now under the Directorship of Fr. Peter Cullen. The northern part of the Diocese, Mpumalanga, was rather ‘neglected’. We were urged to pay attention to this!
Early in 2005 the parish priest of Embalenhle, Fr. Giorgio Massa (a Consolata priest), and myself, Fr. Gerald Gostling stationed next door in Evander (Embalenhle not long before this was part of the Evander Mission), worked together to get the Home Based Care formed and operating in the local Townships of Embalenhle and Lebohang. Among other needs in the area it was glaringly clear that more attention was needed to be offered by the Church for the sick, the dying, and for the hundreds of orphans and vulnerable children. In this regard we set our minds and hearts also on the living conditions of many of the poor families, and the chid-headed families of orphans; the common factor for the orphans being the sickness and death in the families related to AIDS. Education continued to be crucial, particularly in the area of HIV/AIDS, and to encourage a good moral way of life. Fr. Giorgio left Embalenhle in 2006 and is now working in the Consolata missions in Swaziland.
Conditions in the Townships vary, and in many areas living conditions have been described as fourth world! Only about five years ago did the bucket system for toilets go from many Extensions in Embalenhle. Yet even now in 2017 some toilets have only recently been connected to the main sewerage! Also only in the latter part of 2011 did Extension 22 get electricity!
It is a common story to have a mixture of wonderful graces and good changes and at the same time huge frustrations, for example due to the non-delivery of services, the irregular and unreliable supply of medicine (and particularly the Anti-Retrovirals – ARV’s), the effects of corruption, the delay in mending sewerage problems that cause pollution down the street, and so on. Fr. Giorgio, with his passionate, practical, and no-nonsense love and faith, got the Home Based Care operating to help those who needed it most, and so for them to play some part in bringing the much needed changes to the lives of the people. I myself am so privileged to be part of this.
Two new Projects have been formed, the Mduduzi Family Care which in origin dates back to 2005, and Ithemba Nenjabulo formed in 2015 by some youth in response to a challenge put out by Bishop Graham at the Diocesan Youth Mass in Ermelo.
Both these have their own stories.