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Progress and photos from Diana

"Dear Friends

We are immensely grateful to St Richards, in particular to Mick and Penny Finn and all their helpers, for the money raised at the Christmas Stall. It has helped us to get our children and young people back to school and college. The beginning of the academic year is a huge money drain, for even if some do get bursaries or sponsors for school fees, there are always the extras - the transport to school or college often costing even more than the fees!

The photo shows some of our students taking time off at the park.

At the back of the see-saw is Manasse, a young man orphaned in the genocide in Rwanda whom we have cared for for many years. He is now doing his fourth year of a Bachelor of Education degree. He has a partial bursary: through the kind mediation of Dr Peet Botha, Principal of his college in Kwazulu-Natal, we only have to pay one third of the required fees. The money for 2006 came from the St Richards Xmas stall. Thank you to you all, also from Manasse himself. The photo was taken when he was up on holiday over the Christmas recess period. He always comes home for holidays to us.

Next to Mansse on the see-saw is Jimmy, also an orphan from the genocide in Rwanda. Jimmy has the terrible experience as a child of 7, of seeing his entire family hacked to death. He himself was also wounded in the neck, but miraculously survived. He has a bursary, doing a 3 year course in video and film making, which he is enjoying. Jimmy's monthly transport to college costs around R200.00 and that is also coming from the money raised at the Christmas stall, which we said that we would be using for our students. Beside Jimmy is a young orphan from the DRC, Masoka, who is in Grade 2 at school, and we were able to help with stationery and uniforms for her at school. And of course the young man at the front of the see saw is our much-loved Moses, only three and definitely not yet at school.

This photo shows Jacinto our young orphan from Angola. We found him living alone under a building two years ago, and got him into Mercy House and also into school. He is now in Grade 9.He was also Father Christmas' angel at our Christmas celebration last year. Kasia, formerly a volunteer (from Poland) at Mercy House, who is now working for the UN in Angola, is trying to trace family for him, but has had absolutely no luck yet.

More Students:

In this photo you see Richard and our house leader, Eddie. Richard came to us in October 2004 with a broken hip, having been beaten in by soldiers in the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It took us 15 months to get him in for an operation; in fact he had 3 ops last November and is now beaming: he has pulled through and is without pain for the first time in around 18 months. He is now in Grade 12 and also wrote our Christmas plays the last two years. We managed to secure a bursary for our house leader, Eddie, from a company called IST in Pretoria. He is working for a 4 years degree in Computer Systems.

The Blessing of our Solar Heating

The photograph, taken on 25 February 2006, shows not only our lovely blue South African skies, not only the landing place of Father Christmas on 25 December 2004, not only a group of our students having fun on the garage roof, but also and most importantly, our SOLAR PANELS.

It is now a year down the line since we have reaped the benefits of our solar panels. Before we got them, we used gas geysers. Our monthly gas bill could be as much as R1300.00 per month. Since the installation of the solar panels this monthly bill has been reduced to one third of that amount. An immense blessing. It was our practically - minded Father John, of the Comboni Fathers, who suggested these panels in the first place, and he himself secured as much as half of the money needed for them from the Comboni Community. The panels were costly. In addition to the Comboni contribution, further money required was donated firstly, by RMB Merchant Bank, through the dedicated mediation of Ms Lynne Wachter and Ms Lynne Balt, who were on their staff, and secondly, our young Irish volunteer, Elaine Fox, who took some home leave and raised money towards the cost of these panels amongst friends and family. We greatly appreciate the valuable assistance of these three donors: Combonis, RMB Merchant Bank and the friends and relatives of Elaine Fox now back in Ireland. Their contribution has been a lasting one and a great money-saver for us.

Good News!

For a long time we have been praying that a gentleman would join our team who would take over responsibility for maintenance. Indeed, once again, after much prayer, God has provided. In response to a request in several parish Sunday bulletins, Maureen and Bernard Baudy came to visit Mercy House on Sunday 19 February. Bernard has just retired and is looking for an avenue of service. He is delighted that we have a big gap in regard to maintenance and is going to take over all maintenance issues. We are thrilled and wish them a happy association with Mercy House as part of our "team". A photo of Bernard in action will be forthcoming soon. The first thing he will tackle will be built-in cupboards in Sister's office.

Thank you all again!