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Diana with two of her team. On the left is Eugene, who was house leader. He is now able to move in with his family and is handing over to the new leader, Eddie. Eugene will remain the Mercy House driver.
Sister Fidelis is an Assumption sister who has served four years at Mercy House as co-director. ("A brick and pillar of strength", writes Diana.)
Volunteers like Claire Hensman of St Richard’s (see her article soon in the Directory) bring fresh enthusiasm to Mercy House.
The latest departure is Alex, a German Comboni volunteer, who also hopes to return.
Alex is with Eddie in the middle and a new Rwandan, Jean, on the right.
Diana’s October 05 letter is to all the Mercy House friends at St Richard’s.
Thank you very much indeed for the great support you gave Father Kieron and David Rang on their cycle trip to Lourdes, enabling them to raise funds for Mercy House. Our balance was getting low and we really did need this money badly. I hope to give you some idea how the money is being spent. When David ran the London Marathon for us, I thought: Can't get better than this. Then, in 2002, Father bowled us over by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for us!! Again I thought: Can't get better than this: scaling the highest mountain in Africa (I think) just for our cause! Well, I proved to be wrong again, Father and David cycled to Lourdes and it proved to be such a good idea. To Father and Dave: well done and thanks a million.
We cannot divulge certain details of names and families, so as to respect our families’ privacy. But we have already helped several young people and their families who, like so many of our clients, suffered in the African wars and genocide episodes – as in Rwanda. One lad escaped with his brother and sister and have been cared for ever since. Their father joined them but they had no funds to bring mother and younger children on the long and expensive journey to South Africa. Thanks to St Richard’s, the family are together for the first time in 10 years! They can rebuild their lives.
He told us: "I visited my parents this afternoon, and you can't imagine how happy I felt just to see the girls and my little brother playing... I truly felt that I was back in my home country again..."
Take a bow St Richard's: that is a most wonderful thing you have done to enable that lovely family to be reunited.
Another lad lost his whole family in the genocide. He was badly maimed, losing a leg and suffered with a disfigured jaw. After just a year with us we managed to get him into Grade 2 at a Catholic School. Part of the Lourdes sponsorship money will be used to help his needs – transport to school, shoes, text books and uniform. He dreams of becoming a doctor.
Yet another young refugee was shot in the leg in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) war. He came to Johannesburg recently to get medical help but was homeless. We are helping him with transport money to get to hospital and with rent for a few months as we cannot fit him into our house. St Richard's again has enabled us to do this.
A Burundian man had to leave his wife and children in Mozambique when they fled from the war in Burundi, whilst he came to Johannesburg to see if he could find some means of survival. He came to us but sadly his wife died while he was away and the 3 small children have been living in a terrible situation without proper care. He went as fast as he could to find them and will soon bring them to us, worrying about their future. When he arrives we will certainly give quite a bit of help, thanks to St Richard's.
Once we have attended to these and some other needs, whatever money is over, if any, will very definitely have to go to the upkeep of Mercy House! That means paying for our monthly water, electricity, and gas, thus helping everyone who is part of our family. From us all a very sincere 'thank you'.
Already a year ago we told you that we were waiting for a hip operation for a young man, beaten by soldiers in the DRC war, his hip being badly damaged, according to the doctor who saw the x-rays. Every two months since 2002 he was promised an op, and every time he went in, it was deferred. He said that "there are just no more tears..." so disheartened was he. Well, on Sunday, 9 October, 2005, the doctor summoned him to hospital and on Monday 10 October, his op actually happened. At the time of this going to press he has got through the op and will stay in traction for two weeks after which a second op will take place.
I am delighted that people all over the world are reading our pages on St Richard’s website. This has already brought us a gift of two computers – to the immense delight of our students! Isn't it truly GREAT, that from so far away across the world, you at St Richard's are able to help people in such great need. Thanks, a thousand thanks. If it were not for you, we honestly just could not continue with our work.
Eugene, former house leader and still driver, with his family
Eric was only 11 when he was abducted into the army and never heard of his family since. He is now 20 years old. His one wish is to find his family. Eric is a lovely person and does much for our house. With him is Moses, our youngest resident, 3 years old, and loved by all.
Shadadi is now at school and doing well. He is our young Burundian orphan who was 3 or 4 when fleeing and being carried on big brother Bina's back, when they lost their family. We have cared for him since he was about 8 years old and he is doing brilliantly at a very good Catholic school which kindly gave him a bursary: he's here just getting ready for school. He goes to high school next year.
Jean de Dieu – a genocide victim
Introducing Princess, on the right. She was brought to Mercy House in Feb 2004 as a small puppy by Jacinto, our then 14 year old Angolan orphan, begging that he could keep her. By now she has grown rather huge and is the Mercy House dog, much loved by all. Every time Diana arrives at Mercy House, Princess jumps into the car and won't get out until we have taken her for a run at the park. She is seen with Jessica, Diana's 2nd dog!
A birthday picture, taken on Diana’s new digital camera, by Sister Fidelis, October 15th 2005