Maria Ratchitz Mission
Maria Ratchitz Mission, Diocese of Dundee, April 2012
The SACBC AIDS Office visited Maria Ratchitz Mission, Wasbank, in the Diocese of Dundee where the Franciscan Nardini Sisters oversee several projects assisting people infected and affected by AIDS. Some of these programmes are supported through the SACBC AIDS Office.
In Matiwane village two houses have recently been built for families orphaned by AIDS. Thandeka Sibisi is looking after her nine siblings. During the SACBC AIDS Office visit Thandeka was given the key to her new house which replaces one that is in a very poor state of repair. During the visit to the second house the key was handed over to Hlengiwe Khumalo, 21, who will now be able to bring her younger siblings back together. They had had to accommodated elsewhere after the house in which they had been living collapsed. Hlengiwe has a dream of becoming a social worker, and is working hard at her studies in school, supported by caregivers.
Sr Collette Mthimkulu reported that some of the caregivers with whom she has worked in a SACBC AIDS Office supported home based care programme have been taken on by the Department of Health. They had been trained by Sr Immaculate Ndlovu, now in the Eshowe Diocese and by CATHCA (the Catholic Health Care Association). The programme has been operating in Matiwane, Ndingeni, Nkunzi, Jonono and Driefontein villages. Special follow up for patients who are bed-ridden and presenting with severe symptoms is provided. There is good collaboration with the Department of Health in the area. A new early detection of TB programme has begun (April).
A twelve bed hospice at Maria Ratchitz, supported by funding from Germany, accommodates patients from the various villages, many of them referred by the caregivers. Patients on ARVs receive their treatment at Dundee hospital. The hospice has no doctor. The previously doctor was Sr Irmengard Tallmeier, now retired.
Soup kitchens currently run in three places, supporting about 384 orphans of the approximately 500 in the diocesan orphan and vulnerable children programme. Over weekends memory box workshops and life skills and HIV education programmes are conducted for groups of orphans. From May a social worker will assist with these workshops and in the orphan and vulnerable children programme.
Some caregivers are being trained in auxiliary social work through UNISA, and others are being trained as child caregivers.