The Response of the Archdiocese of Johannesburg

The Response of the Archdiocese of Johannesburg

Archdiocese of Johannesburg and AIDS

The Response of the Archdiocese of Johannesburg1

The Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Johannesburg has made a major contribution to the fight against AIDS since the late 1980s.  We note here some of the more well-known projects that have left their mark, some of them supported in part through the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference AIDS Office programme, as well as from elsewhere.

–    Sacred Heart House in Kensington, eastern Johannesburg, was one of the first Catholic hospices to take care of people dying from AIDS-related illnesses.  In the wake of the availability of treatment later on it was closed, having made an important contribution as a place where people could die with dignity.  The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart  (MSC) and the Assumption Sisters were associated with it, as well as many volunteers.

–    St Francis Care Centre in Boksburg on the East Rand was established by the late Fr Stan Brennan OFM to care for people dying of AIDS-related sicknesses. Over the years its services were extended to include a home for young children orphaned and made vulnerable by AIDS, and a treatment centre providing life-prolonging anti-retroviral therapy and TB screening services both in Boksburg and at Reiger Park.  The ARV services are now being handed over by the Department of Health, and patients are being transferred to local clinics at which ARV treatment is available.

–    Sithandizingane, Tsakane, East Rand, was established by a King Williamstown Dominican Sister to address the needs of some of the many children made vulnerable by HIV and AIDS.  The Centre works closely  also with the Department of Social Development, trying to ensure ongoing social support for the children and their families, some of them living in situations of deprivation.

–    Nazareth House in Yeoville, considered part of the inner city of Johannesburg, has a long history of caring for the elderly and for children.  Its response to AIDS has been in outreach to people living in its neighbourhood, and in Berea and Hillbrow, providing home based care services, and patient follow-up of those on anti-retroviral therapy through its treatment centre.  Besides the fact of its having initiated a great number of people on treatment without being even a primary health care clinic, Nazareth House (belonging to the Sisters of Nazareth) is also noted for its care and treatment of foreign nationals living in the area.  Many patients are originally from Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo and elsewhere.

–    Inkhanyezi, Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg, provided ARV treatment services between 2004 and 2013, with patients having been transferred to Department of Health clinics around Orange Farm once the PEPFAR grant was ended.  Inkhanyezi continues its services to the community of Orange Farm in home based care and orphan support.  The White Fathers and the Sisters of Mercy have had a long association with Inkhanyezi.

–    Ahanang parish-based programme in Sebokeng in the Vaal area has both home based care and orphan care services running with commitment from the parish.  The late Sefora Vilakazi was instrumental in the establishment of the programme recognising and responding to the needs of the sick and the children affected, and involving fellow parishioners in putting the social teaching of the church into action.