Provide nutrition for 500 families in South Africa

by Missionvale Care Centre

Dear friends

At a recent celebration, the gorgeous children in our school choir performed two songs.  One was accompanied by an African drum, played by a young girl named *Gemma.  I was getting quite choked up by this particular performance as I saw her putting her heart and soul into every drum beat and her face lit up with pure joy as she proudly sang along with her peers.  When I started working here in Missionvale, Gemma was still a little girl who used to hide under my desk!  She had such a vivacious character and we used to joke and say how we should make a TV series about her called “The adventures of Gemma and friends”!  At the time she was not going to school and I recall how terribly hungry she was. 

We got to know Gemma, her family, and her circumstances.  Although she is not orphaned, her home life is very difficult and they are desperately poor.

Over time, and because of people like you, we have been able to reach out to her and her family through practical means:  a weekly food parcel, a school for Gemma, medical care for her mother when she was ill and a safe place for Gemma to play in the afternoons.  Gemma has grabbed every opportunity with both hands and participates in every extra mural activity possible! 

It is wonderful to see her progressing so well and looking so much healthier than she did.  We are thrilled that she has taken to both academics and the social and cultural aspects of school.  However, we must never forget that she would not have been able to partake in any of these, if she did not have basic nutrition to sustain her.  It is unimaginable to think that if it were not for this centre, and for your kind, generous and continuous donations, that Gemma and her family, would have nothing to eat. 

Your hard earned contributions mean the world to us, and with every dollar, you are providing much more than food.  You are providing energy, hope and the starting point for a changed life.  We are indebted to you forever.

To see a video of the choir, click on the link below (forward 4 minutes in):


*Names have been changed to protect the identity of our beneficiaries


Thankful little ones arriving for food
Thankful little ones arriving for food

Dear friends

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”  - Mother Theresa

I came across this well-known quote by Mother Theresa recently and immediately I thought about all the people that come to our Centre every day.  The need here is so big it would frighten anyone.  Outside our nutrition unit people wait patiently in the seemingly endless queue, and the ones towards the back are wear painful expressions of angst – angst that there will not be enough, which sadly is often the case.

Our only hope is in you, and even though you as individuals cannot each feed the masses, every bit you have given in the past year, has helped us in getting life giving food to those who need it most – one at a time, surviving day after day.

As we are hurtling towards the end of 2016, I thought I would share a few statistics with you that were recorded during our past financial year. 

1294                Clothing parcels were distributed                 

176567            Families received Bread and Soup  

32851              Weekly food parcels were distributed                       

6521                Home Based Care visits were done

526                  Patients were treated in the Women’s Clinic

1962                Patients were treated in the Surgery

308                  Patients received Physiotherapy

323                  Vegetable Gardens Created                        

4496                Children received a Christmas present

5000                Families received a Christmas Food Parcel

290                  Pupils attend our school

When we do tours around our Centre, we mention these numbers to the visitors.   Of course, each number represents a life.

Mother Theresa said that she never looked at the masses as her responsibility.  She looked at the individual.  And so she began, by picking up one person.  For our founder, Sr Ethel, it is the same – maybe if she didn’t pick up one person, she wouldn’t have picked up 100 000! 

Our deepest gratitude goes to you for every single person that you have helped through your kind and generous contributions via GlobalGiving.  You are the reason we can continue our vital services, and you are the reason thousands of people in this township have hope to face another day.  Thank you.


Dear friends

On the 24th of June this year, we marked a very special occasion – the launch of our Strategic Plan entitled “Building on our Strengths”. 

The event was held at the Care Centre and attended by local friends, donors, supporters and of course, our VIP’s – the community of Missionvale.

Our Strategic Plan addresses the issue of preserving and sustaining Missionvale Care Centre into the future, encompassing the values of respect, dignity and compassion that Sister Ethel has become synonymous with.

Sister Ethel beautifully and eloquently wrote the foreword:

“Dear friends – dear, dear friends

I owe you so much!  And it’s time to tell you though I know you know.  Where would I be now if it were not for your trust and love down 28 years? 

Time!  Yes it’s all we have – long or short – and how grateful I am to you for the time that we have spent together.

Down the years I have wondered what led me here, and every day brings its answer.  Many of you reading this may ask “do you remember?” and again do you remember?

Yes, I remember so much and can relate many good and wonderous times, and sadly many experiences of destruction.

It has been a long journey on the dusty footpaths of Missionvale, one that started in 1988 with nothing but hope in my heart and a rucksack on my back, but along the way I have encountered humanity at its best.

The awesome welcome from the people of Missionvale and their acceptance of this ordinary girl from Lissycasey began and never ended.  As we shared life together I was challenged to enter into their fears, illness, pain, hunger, loneliness, tears, despair, agony, forgiveness, joy, laughter, births and deaths, and I found myself crying out “Lord, what do you want me to do?”

The vision of Missionvale Care Centre as you know it today came through listening to the voices and foresight of the people and it was in a gathering under the tree that I asked them what we would call what we hoped would emerge and unequivocal they said “A Care Centre”.  That gave birth to the organisation.

It was then that I turned to you the people of the greater Port Elizabeth, and afar, and your trust in me became the wind beneath my wings!  How can I ever, ever tell you what it meant to me and how do I thank you?

Those who know me know that I enjoy telling stories (a trait I inherited from my father) and I could go on forever on the story of Missionvale.  It’s like a tapestry!  We have come so far together living in, and embracing the evolving future.  You can proudly look back on the legacy you have created, but you are an integral part of the future to maintain it, and grow it into the future through the Strategic Plan.  You may have paged through the document already and you will have seen that it has been well researched through discussions from stakeholders and key partners, both here and far away.

In today’s challenging economic environment longevity and sustainability is critical to the success of any organisation.  Missionvale is no exception.  As such in reading this document you will appreciate that hours of consultation, planning, passion and commitment has gone into this.

The struggle of the people of Missionvale has not ended, and therefore the execution of the bold objectives of this document will require all hands on deck. 

I humbly appeal to you that we work together in sharing the new energy brought about by this plan in taking ownership of the tasks and work that still has to be done in serving the people of Missionvale as you did in the past.  We can do it.

Once again I would like to thank each one of you from my heart’s core for all you mean to me and have done.  To the Little Company of Mary who gave me the opportunity to live our charism as best I could – thank yo.

With open arms I love every one of you, and I ask God each day to bless you to journey’s end.”

It is my great privilege to share a copy of this plan with you all, and I hope that you will find something in it that will resonate with your own values of humanity.

We are so deeply grateful to you for the support we have received through the GlobalGiving platform, and hope that you will take comfort in knowing that any contributions made to our cause, are sustainable interventions directly impacting on the poorest of the poor.

We look forward to our continued relationship and so grateful again being the recipients of your generosity!

A full tummy menas Surf
A full tummy menas Surf's Up!

About two years ago, our Community Health Practitioners met a young boy by the name of Zolani*.  At that time he was living with his mother in a small shack that leaked badly on rainy days.

The carers noticed that he was not well and referred him to our clinic where he was diagnosed with Tuberculosis and Epilepsy.  We then started doing regular home visits and took the family food, clothing and ensured that Zolani was taking his medicine. 

After a year of treatment, and with no significant positive results, Zolani agreed to an HIV test, which sadly came back positive.  In addition a cancerous growth was found on his brain and he was sent to the Red Cross Hospital in December 2015.  Fortunately it was not needed to operate and the doctors were able to drain fluid from the growth.

Zolani is at a local Primary School, but after psychological assessments, it was found that he should be in a special needs school as he has learning difficulties.  Our careworkers managed to secure a spot for him with a school called Northern Lights, based in Port Elizabeth and he will start there next week.

In January this year, Zolani and two friends were playing on the side of a busy road in Missionvale.  They decided to go to the “dam” (a build-up of rain water in the area) and had to cross the road in order to get there.  They ran across, but sadly, one of the friends was disabled and could not run as fast as the others.  A speeding taxi hit him and tragically he died on the scene.  Zolani witnessed everything and was deeply traumatised.

We have ensured that he receives ongoing counselling.

On our staff we have a most wonderful and compassionate nurse who has taken a special interest in Zolani.  Her name is Annie, and outside of her work at the Care Centre, Annie is very involved with local surf teams.  As part of a fun day to introduce them to surfing, she took a couple of children from Missionvale (including Zolani) to the beachfront and a nearby skate park to see how well they could balance on a skateboard and Zolani showed real natural talent!  For some of the children it was the first time they had seen the ocean!  After a few similar “fun days”, 12 children were chosen to attend a fully sponsored “surfing camp” over the Easter weekend in March.  

The hours in the sun, the fun in the waves, the fellowship with other children from Missionvale – it all meant the world to Zolani and he has returned beaming from ear to ear.

However, his needs will be ongoing and it is ONLY because of people like you that we are able to care for him, and thousands other like him.  It is YOUR FUNDS that pay for his weekly food parcel.  YOUR FUNDS that make it possible for him to take his medication as he has something to eat.  And YOUR FUNDS that make it possible for him to have enough energy to enjoy life, to play, to surf. 

We cannot thank you enough.

 *Name has been changed to protect his identity

FB_IMG_1456050990927 (3).jpg
FB_IMG_1456050990927 (3).jpg

This week, a Facebook friend of mine shared this quote:


Medicine is not healthcare.

Food is health care.

Medicine is sick care.

It’s time we see it for what it is.


Isn’t this just so true? 


The seemingly endless queue outside Missionvale clinic is testimony to this.  It is here where we encounter devastating illness due to malnutrition.  Illnesses that could have been prevented!


Despite this harsh reality, it is really difficult to market this side of our Care Centre to potential donors.  It is the “not so sexy” side of fundraising, often seen as a short term intervention with no chance of ever being sustainable.  It is easier to justify corporate social investment spend on more tangible items such as books or stationery for a school, and although these are obviously necessary components, no learning will take place without nutrition.


Platforms like Global Giving give us the opportunity to share these truths with the world.  And it is through this platform that YOU bring desperately needed relief directly to the families most urgently in need here in the Missionvale Township.

At the moment, our country is in the midst of a devastating drought and food supply is a real concern.  While we are able to import food items, the cost of this means that we are likely going to face a 30 % increase* in some food items later this year, particularly maize based products which form the staple food of our poorest citizens. 


We cannot imagine things getting even tougher for the people of this community. 


Thank you for believing in our work, for relieving hunger and for giving us hope.  With your continued support we can face the difficult times ahead. 


With love and gratitude from all of us at Missionvale Care Centre


*This means that a food parcel that currently costs us around R35 (around $2.30) may cost us R45.50 ($2.98) by the end of 2016. 


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Organization Information

Missionvale Care Centre

Location: Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape - South Africa
Website: https:/​/​
Project Leader:
Linda van Oudheusden
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
$25,664 raised of $90,000 goal
544 donations
$64,336 to go
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