The poverty of many people remains the same. Some houses are precarious structures of all sorts of materials.
There are times when there is no clean water and no electricity. And services can be unpredictable.
One morning a family waited at the gate in torrential rain. The father was wearing broken shoes, the toddler was barefoot, the mother carried a two week old baby covered by a towel to keep out the rain. The towel was saturated and the baby’s lips blue. They needed to register the baby’s birth in order to obtain benefit. They, along with many others, waited at the office of the social services. Staff did not arrive that day so the family would need to make the journey another day. That is just an ordinary day for the people. Their patience and resilience is amazing. They continue to smile and be gracious despite all that life presents.
Yet, since my last visit changes had taken place. There were new houses in some locations, each with a roof-based solar panel. Some attempt had been made to improve roads.
Another change is the greater provision of education at Langbos and Valentia— two of the locations visited by the Sisters. Classrooms are bright and colourful and there are salaried staff to teach.
At the clinic in Valentia, there is a team of trained Home Based Carers who provide essential care to older people and those who need medication.
A gift of some sewing machines has resulted in the setting-up of a sewing group—the ladies making gift bags for a tour company and making other items for sale. It is heartening to see how Sisters Martha and Breda (with Sisters Mary and Patricia earlier) have enabled the women to find sources of income that make such a difference to their lives.
Volunteers and co-workers are important in continuing this work. I was asked to speak to them about Catherine McAuley and our Charism of Mercy.
These photos include the Home Based Carers, the sewing group, the teachers at “The Place of Hope and Mercy”, and two volunteers—Veronica, a Zulu training for teaching (third from right on the front row, photo 1) and Selina, a Marist Volunteer from Germany (extreme right in photo 2). On the extreme left in both photographs is Brother Christopher, a Marist Brother who was instrumental in the opening of the mission and continues to give huge support to the Sisters in their ministry along the Sunday’s River Valley.
Later that day we travelled to Kirkwood to meet the new Parish Priest, Father Lawrence. Patricia had been very involved with this parish and helped fundraise for the new hall.
The hall was constructed during the Year of Mercy, hence its name. But no reason why we cannot make some claim on the name!
Another new project at Langbos is the building of an orphanage. It is an eco-friendly design—looking like a series of bee-hives.
For those with nerves of steel (and that includes our Sisters) there is a new adventure in the valley. It is called Adrenaline Line and involves travelling by zip-wire from the tower on top of the hill across the valley, over the river and hopefully landing on dry-land.
Where soil and paint can be washed away, there are other ways to mark parking bays!
Sister Philomena Bowers