Pomeroy excels in Zulu hospitality
SACBC AIDS Office has been in partnership with the Dutch NGO Homeplan since 2010, building two-room brick houses (with corrugated iron roofs, 2500 litre rain water tanks and pit latrines) for AIDS orphans. In total, more than 300 have been built to date.
Every year Homeplan sends a group of its donors on a “Bouwreis” (building trip). They visit one of the communities where houses are being built, stay with local families for a week (experiencing the life of the local community) and physically assist with building houses. This year they visited Pomeroy – Msinga District – deep rural Zululand in the Diocese of Dundee.
The group consisted of 10 Dutch ladies and 5 Dutch men. The arrived in Pomeroy the evening of Sunday 6 April 2014, to a warm welcome. The Augustinian Sisters had set up a tent, and prepared a welcoming meal. The Dutch visitors slept in the Church hall that evening. The next day they were taken to their host families, where they stayed until Thursday 10 April.
The Dutch visitors were received with overwhelming hospitality by their Zulu hosts. In some houses, the hosts had bought new bedding and duvet sets. In one house a group of 60 orphans performed traditional Zulu dances for the visitors. In another house the host family slaughtered a goat in honour of the visitors. During the day the Dutch helped build orphan houses. They managed to complete nearly seven during the week they were there.
The afternoon of Thursday 10 April the Dutch returned to the mission, with their host families, the builders and the orphan beneficiaries of the new houses. Bishop Graham Rose celebrated Mass. This was followed by a braai, and a display of traditional Zulu dancing.
The Dutch visitors reported that the week was a life changing experience. They were saddened by the extreme poverty they encountered. None had ever lived without running water, electricity or water borne sewerage before. But they were deeply moved by the hospitality and warmth of Pomeroy’s people. All commented that, despite hunger and suffering, everybody seemed to be smiling all the time. They were also profoundly impressed by the commitment of the Augustinians, who have been in Pomeroy since the early 1960’s, providing health care at their Noyi Bazi clinic, and relief programmes for orphans and the poor. One volunteer, Susan Hartman, is a paediatrician in the Netherlands. She spent a day working with Sr Dolores Nzimande in the clinic. She said that the nurses deal with more serious medical emergencies than doctors in the Netherlands do, and that they run their clinic with clockwork efficiency. Many of the visitors fell in love with the stark beauty of the Msinga district. None had ever seen the beauty of the stars at night until they came to Pomeroy.
Friendships were formed and love was shared. On the last day both Dutch and Zulus shed tears when the time of separation arrived. It was a beautiful experience for all involved.