It is with eternal gratitude that we look back on 2014 as a wonderful year for Missionvale Care Centre, filled with many new thrilling additions to our existing programs, and they have all been made possible because of your continued belief in our cause. Your generous contributions and sustained support is deeply appreciated and I know that Sr Ethel lights a candle in thanksgiving to all of you every day. The community of Missionvale have benefited greatly from your donations, and every day they gather at the Centre and give thanks for “the people over the sea” who always remember us.
A few of our highlights this year were:
- The start of ballroom dancing classes for the children in our school, they are so talented!
- Two of our community health practitioners received bursaries to study nursing!
- Our junior and senior choirs won a trophy at the Northern Areas Choral Festival
- Over 200 sustainable vegetable gardens were created in Missionvale
- The elderly ladies in Missionvale formed the “gogo club” (granny club) and make beautiful knitted items for sale
At the moment we are gearing up towards our own Christmas celebrations which are split into two categories: 1) Father Christmas Day for the children and 2) Christmas Eve Food Parcel Distribution for Adults. The children’s gift distribution is a huge annual event where over 6000 children each receive a small present from Santa Clause and some sweets. For most of them it is the only present they will receive. All the staff at the Centre dress up, Christmas carols are played and the whole Centre gets decorated. It is extremely festive and is a big highlight for all the little ones.
On Christmas Eve we distribute food parcels to the community so everyone has something to eat on Christmas day. This is a very special time at the Centre and there is always a bit of magic in the air!
We hope that you will feel that same magic surround you this Christmas and all the way into the New Year.
Thank you again for all the miracles you helped to create.
Wishing you every blessing, with love from Sr Ethel and all of us in Missionvale
It is a beautiful spring day in South Africa. There is a slight breeze in the air and we can hear the children at our primary school practicing for tomorrow’s big choir performance. At the clinic there is a buzz of activity as the doctors and health workers see to the crowd of patients – the sickest of the sick in Missionvale and surrounding areas. The vegetable gardens are taking a bit of strain due to the lack of rain, but our gardeners persevere day by day. In front of the clothing warehouse, waiting patiently in an orderly queue are families collecting their clothing parcels – one family lost everything when their home burnt down last week. Outside the Nutrition Unit, there is a large crowd, nearly 1000 people today. In exchange for items of food, everyone brings items to be recycled. This preserves a sense of dignity as they know they are not getting a hand-out. A well run distribution system is in place and the elderly, frail and disabled are served first.
Although your Global Giving contributions are allocated specifically to the Nutrition Unit, it is linked to all the other areas of our care centre. Without nutrition the children cannot learn. Medication on an empty stomach is of no value.
It is therefore with deep gratitude that we thank you again for your contribution to this particular part of the Centre. We hope that you take comfort in knowing that it is making a difference in the lives of those who need it most. Your continued belief in our mission is deeply treasured by all of us in Missionvale.
It is with gratitude and excitement that I am writing to you today to give you an update on our Nutrition programme which you are making possible for us through your contributions!
As you are aware, the food parcels are distributed to those most vulnerable in the community. Every day they arrive and wait patiently for their turn to receive this life giving food. We are always looking for ways of improving services to the community and thought of ways we can better occupy their time while they are in the queue waiting.
This has led to the start of the “Gogo Club”. (“Gogo” is a loving term used to describe a granny.) We have discovered great talents in the elderly ladies from Missionvale! Armed with knitting needles and some wool, they now keep busy making the most beautiful items including scarves, headbands, gloves and beanies – even handbags! It is amazing to see their creations and they are so enjoying having something to do while they wait!
This is incredibly special to us to see as many of these ladies were so weak before they came onto our Nutrition Programme, that they would definitely not have been able to do anything like this before. Seeing the difference in them makes us realise again how much of an impact your generous contributions make in this special community. So on behalf of all the people in Missionvale, and especially the gogo’s, thank you for continuing to believe in us. Your support means everything.
This postcard is written by Chi Nguyen, our In-The-Field Representative who will be traveling to the nine countries of Southern Africa to meet and work with our partner organizations.
On Monday, March 17th, I was privileged to meet Linda van Oudheusden who gave me a grand tour of Missionvale Care Centre and all of its accomplishments thus far - and a grand tour it was! Missionvale Care Centre, 26 years and running, now has quite a few impressive achievements to tout, such as two health clinics on the grounds, an assembly hall for HIV/AIDS support groups as well as community events and recreational activities, a farming project, and a sizable food program for the local impoverished community, just to name a few.
Student volunteers from America were in the kitchen, busily packing food parcels of sugar, tuna, beans, tea packets, and more as rows and rows of people sat in line for their food parcels just outside. Linda and the founder of Missionvale Care Centre, Sister Ethel, tell me that their biggest challenge is to get donors to believe that food parcels are a necessary component of the program as a whole. They say that too often, donors believe that food parcels are handouts rather than a hand up, wanting instead to donate to education, HIV/AIDS medication, or the provision of life skills, but Linda and Sister Ethel reason: how can one learn and progress if one does not have enough food to first survive?
Sister Ethel shares a story close to her heart, telling me that years ago, before the food program had started, a member of the community with HIV/AIDS came to Sister Ethel and told her how sick she was feeling. Sister Ethel pleaded with her to take her medications, but she said she couldn't, that the medication made her feel sick. Sister Ethel pleaded and pleaded, but the community member said that she couldn't, that the medication only made her feel worse. She eventually passed away.
Sister Ethel was determined to live a few days in this woman's shoes. She began taking the medication herself, on an empty stomach, to figure out what went wrong. She then become violently ill herself, incapable of functioning in her normal daily activities. She then knew that she had to start a food program.
The food parcel gives the families in community the energy to grow, learn, thrive, and contribute to the community. The mothers can now tend after their children, the children can now focus in school, the women and men can now contribute to the farming projects in the community. The food program is a crucial piece in the structure of Missionvale Care Centre, and is a dynamic demonstration of the fact that one must be well before one is capable of doing well.
GLOBAL GIVING REPORT FEBRUARY 2014
This being February, we are sure you are inundated with messages of love! For us in Missionvale, love has so many different faces. It is in the sense of community, (Ubuntu as we call it). It is the love between mother and child. It is the love we have for the people we serve and the love they give us so freely in return. At Missionvale Care Centre, we express that love through practical means: education, nutrition, skills development, health care.
Through your incredible generosity, and your continued belief in us, we certainly feel extremely loved! We have just received the funding from the last quarter and we are absolutely blown away by your kindness, especially during the Christmas period! With the funding received from the last quarter alone we are able to purchase 781 food parcels! We are hugely grateful to each of you for making this possible for us.
Any nutrition project is exceptionally difficult to fundraise for. Like air, it is something that is often taken for granted – until you run out! The harsh realities of malnutrition and starvation are with us every day, and yet, it is difficult to imagine that such things are still happening in South Africa in 2014! All of our friends through Global Giving may live far away, but through your contributions you are close to our hearts and close to our mission of finding sustainable solutions for these problems.
So it is with deep gratitude, and a massive virtual hug that we say
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