20 November, 2014

While the secular world prepares enthusiastically for Christmas, Christians enter, perhaps, the most beautiful season of the liturgical year.  Advent is a time to quietly celebrate what we really are: kingdom people. It is a season of hope and longing that the kingdom of God may truly grow amongst us, bearing in mind that Our Lord said: “The kingdom of God is amongst you!”  Everyday we hear about the evil around us, which can cause us to lose hope.  But let us look at life, not with “flies eyes” (flies live for one day), but with “divine eyes.”   If you find your hope zooming down to zero, think through the good things God has done for you during the past year.  And give others an experience of the kingdom of God through what you are!
MERCY HOUSE is a place of hope.   We enkindle hope in giving our young people the chance to follow their dreams, to stand on their own feet in life. We do so by trying to create a “little bit of heaven” on this earth, a place where love heals and reigns.  This update shows that we have reason to dream and hope in the blessings of God.  So, rejoice, because each one of us can truly say: “The Lord has done marvels for me, holy is his name (Luke 1, 49).”
We wish all our readers a fruitful Advent and a joyful celebration of Christmas.

19 November, 2014



With joy a group from Mercy House went to wish Father Jeremias a happy birthday on 27 October.  In the photo above we see Yuri wishing Father, whilst Father is holding the book which we gave him as our birthday gift: "Left to Tell," a story of how a young woman survived the genocide in Rwanda. Well, we are grateful to God that Father Jeremias was born, born even for Mercy House!



18 November, 2014


In June we tried to fulfil a dream by assisting Papi to open an internet cafe. A donor helped him with some finance and then, thanks to responses to appeals, we were able to set him up with computers, printers, furnishing and much more. As with any new business, it took a while to get it off the ground, but things are now starting to look up and Papi is optimistic about the future.  




"PAPINET" has indeed become a reality, as the photos show. Dreams do come true… 




Our much-loved ZENG has just completed his matric at Dominican Convent School where he has produced art which is outstanding. 


In Grade 10 he won a national award for a video clip that he produced.  Some of his work, including the match-stick video, can be seen below.  


Dreams are coming true for him, because he has been accepted at VEGA, one of the top colleges for Graphic Design in the country, to study for a diploma there next year.  A sincere thank you to his sponsors.

Felix has just completed his 4-year degree in biomedical technology at the University of Johannesburg.  This will enable him to get work in the field of medical research in the future.  Each year of his study he has been given the Top Student award, scoring only in the 80% and 90% range for all his work – his amazingly hard work has got him there.  Well done Felix and good luck.  See photo below



Rafik has just completed his Master's Degree in Education at the University of the Witwatersrand. His thesis has been the study of the introduction of Ipad learning in schools. 

Desire has been able, through the kind support of a lady in Spain, to do a course as an electrician. Currently he is looking for work which we hope and trust he will be able to get in the New Year (please help us if you have any contacts).  Desire is seen is the photo below




Festus has been doing his first year of training as a Netcare nurse.  Our scholars, Dioscor, Moise, Gregory, Norbert, Emmanuel. BK. Princess, Ildovert, Grace, Velderine plus Zeng’s 4 brothers and sisters, continue with their studies in school. Jusuf (left below) and Yuri (below right) will continue at Pre-School next year.




We are very proud of our Donatien, who came to us as an orphan from Burundi, in 2003, when he was still at school. He subsequently did the 5 year Netcare nursing training and is now in charge of the neurology ward at Linksfield Hospital. At the same time he is studying part-time to convert his diploma into a nursing degree. Well done Dona, and congratulations on your achievement which you certainly have earned and deserve. 




Robert was orphaned in the civil war in Burundi in the nineties and came to Mercy House in 1997.  We put him into school – see photo of the first 4 young people we put into school in 1998, Robert being second from the right.  After having worked for some years after his matric, he now wants to take up the challenge of studying to be a chemical engineer. To this end, someone has kindly offered to assist him with sufficient finance to do this by distance learning through Unisa, which he will be starting in January 2015. We wish him everything of the best in the pursuit of his dream.





In 2013 a much-needed project was started, teaching English to refugees.   It was put on hold in January 2014, due to a shortage of funds, but was restarted in May, thanks to the Johannesburg Catholic Refugee Office, St Richards Parish in the UK, and an organization in Europe. This project is hugely successful, with really good attendance. By the end of 2014, 5 courses will have been run this year, and we will continue from mid-January next year. The photos below show some of the students writing their exam on 11 November and one of our Mercy House residents, Burundian Richard,  getting his certificate from his teacher at the end of the beginners' course. 


The above-mentioned achievements are part of what keeps us who work at Mercy House busy.  There is in addition the heavy load of assisting refugees with their papers.  Here we owe a big debt of gratitude to our supportive attorney, Mr Neels Coertse, and our co-worker, Emmanuel, who dedicate a huge amount of time, without any remuneration, to this difficult field of our work. May God reward you.



This was the privilege of our former Mercy House leader, Eddie, who came to us in 2005. We were able to assist him to qualify as an engineer and he now works as an engineer for a large company in Pretoria.  In October this year he joined a pilgrimage trip to Schoenstatt, Germany and Rome. He is seen in the photo below at the audience with our Holy Father, an experience which he will certainly never forget. 


Now working for the United Nations in the United States has not forgotten Mercy House. Thanks to his faithful and thoughtful caring, he was able to access funding for us to extend our solar heating and cover some education expenses for next year. To him and his anonymous donors, a big thank you.

Amy from USA and Kasia from Poland came as volunteers to Mercy House in 2001, Amy stayed for one year and Kasia stayed for four years.  They did amazing work at Mercy House and have kept in touch with us ever since they left.  In July 2014 they revisited us and were able to meet refugees whom they had known 13 years ago, for example, Shadadi was only 8 when they were with us - he is now 21 and has graduated from medical school.  The photo above shows them when they started with us in 2001 on the occasion of the visit of Judy and Gerald McGregor who now spearhead the group at St Richards in the UK that raises money for our Mercy work

Our co-worker, David McCallum, continues to give his weekly scripture evenings at Mercy House, enabling our young people to get to know the scriptures. Dave is also mentoring Newton through a one-year course on website design. 


It is with sadness that we announce the passing of our four-year-old Nesta on the 19th of August, a great shock to everyone.  He contracted meningitis which caused him to go into a coma from which he never recovered.  To his parents, our deepest sympathy.  He is very much missed around Mercy House and is seen in the photo above on the left with his companion and best friend, Yuri, on the right, taken after Sunday Mass shortly before he died.

29 September, 2014

African refugees seek a better life in SA

 African refugees held a flea market in Johannesburg to showcase their wares and skills, as they attempt to integrate into an often hostile South African society. Source: eNCA

22 May, 2014

Mercy House Update: May 2014

A wise man said: "There is so much suffering in the world; we should do whatever we can to spread joy."
The more we open our eyes to the suffering of people around us, especially those less privileged than ourselves, the more we realise the need for the healing power of joy.  Did you ever see a photo of a child soldier, or the homeless kids at our city robots or the men pushing trolleys loaded with cardboard or metal for kilometres in the city, with joy on their faces? Highly unlikely.  All the more challenge to us, to try to bring joy into people's lives.  You cannot give what you do not have within yourself.  We should pray for the grace of joy in our own hearts, but that is not enough: we have an obligation to find ways to give joy to others.  We should not let even one day go by, without enkindling that joy somewhere, without pursuing the goal of "faces with a smile."

Easter is a time for joy!  Imagine the incredulous joy on the faces of the disciples when they discovered and realised that Our Lord was no longer in the tomb that He really had risen, as He said He would. Take note of the joy of the women who had found the empty tomb: "Filled with awe and great joy, the women came quickly away from the tomb and ran to tell the disciples (Mt 28,8)."   Imagine the joy of His Mother, who had carried Him in her womb, adored Him as a child, seen his miracles but also the horrors of His crucifixion and seen Him sealed in a tomb... 

MERCY HOUSE is well aware of the sorrows of the young people we serve. We have orphans, and other young people who have suffered huge psychological scars, having witnessed unspeakable, undreamed-of things.  All the more need for us to give them as much joy as possible. And this is something that people ALWAYS comment on after visiting Mercy House: the pervading atmosphere of peace and joy.  To this end we do have lovely celebrations on feast days like Christmas and Easter, but also have our outings to the park. We thank all those who support these events and provide delicious food and so on.  The photos below show some of the joy at such events held on Easter Sunday and at our picnic at the park on 28 April.

Our children catching Easter eggs thrown down from the roof by the Easter bunnies.


Father Jeremias consulting the 2 Easter bunnies as to where they hide out during the year till next Easter...
Emmanuel, our website designer and organiser of our celebrations with his baby girl, Benita, at the park. 

Keiko having a great time at our picnic-at-the-park

Father John with Diana and David at braai time at the park.

BRAG BOOK

We are so proud of our young people!

Our Felix, orphan from Sudan, did us proud again this year, heaping up more awards. This time, in March, he received two awards:
Best overall student for the past 3 years and
Best Micro-biology student.


On 11 June, Felix will graduate with a Diploma in Medical Research from The University of Johannesburg and next year he will complete his 4 year degree.

In March Meshack graduated with an Honours degree in Implementation of Information Technology in Schools. 

Saturday 10 May saw two of our students, Norbert and Gregory (see the photo below), performing in a concert given by the Music Enlightenment Project, in the Braamfontein Recreation Centre. 



This project endeavours to engage inner-city kids with developing their music skills, teaching them to play an instrument in a classical orchestra and giving them a love for the same.

EMPOWERING OUR PEOPLE

Of course one of our main aims is to assist our people to get onto their feet in life, be they children or adults.  Giving them education of some form of skills-based training is the implementation of this. This has led us to embark on our

Handcraft Project

We are helping the Mercy House ladies to start a handcraft project, so that they may be able to become self-supporting.  They are making bags, table mats, aprons, jewellery some of which are seen in the photos below.





We also have assisted Papa Zeng to get an industrial machine that will enable him to put his amazing skills into practise and get onto his feet in life so that he can support his family. The photos below show some of his work - bags and hats to match!




If any of our readers knows of an outlet for these beautiful goods please do contact us.  We are trying to get some of these to the UK where St Richards will hold a mid-year fund-raiser for us, and they would like to have some of our crafts to sell.  So, we are also looking for someone who may be going to the UK fairly soon, who might be able to take a small parcel over to this end.

MOVING OUT BUT NEVER OUT OF OUR HEARTS

John Kashindi is an orphan from the DRC who was placed with us at the age of 8 - see photo of him at that time with Sister Fidelis.  



He has been with Mercy House for 13 years.  We put him into school, where he honoured himself by being chosen as head boy, see photo below.  



John trained as a baker/ caterer and is now working in the bakery of Waterfall Retirement Estate.  John is loved by all, especially as he is very caring person, and proves it by his deeds of kindness. To our surprise he has decided to move out into a private room, fortunately very near Mercy House. We are so thrilled to see that one of youngsters, whom we watched grow from a boy into a man, has turned out to be a genuinely good person, a very strong character and an asset to the community. We wish him well. John is seen in the photo below moving his belongings on 5 May.

  

PUTTING A SMILE ON THE FACES OF OTHERS - OUR MISSION!



We found Emily living on a stoep at the back of a house in Troyville. Her dad died some years back and her mother died 18 months ago, leaving her, as the oldest in the family, to look after a family of 6!  Since she has to look after the family she cannot work. She is always short of food and other basic needs.  Emily asked if we could find some second-hand shoes for her family for Winter.  We advertised in some parishes are immensely grateful to those who responded with donations for her, which will not only cover shoes, but also school fees for her brother and sister.  On Monday, 5 May, we took them shopping to buy the shoes.   For little Razak (4 years old), the shopping centre was a completely new experience and he was running around madly. It was a great joy for them to buy brand new shoes.  The joy on Razak's face, seen in the photo below, says it all. 



Emily, seen in the second photo was also deeply grateful. We thank those who, through their donations helped us to help them. May you be rewarded and blessed. 

Diesco, Danny and Zeng at the Lion Park




One Saturday in May Mrs Rosemary Benjamin, one of our co-workers, gave some of our boys a real treat: she took them to the Lion Park.  They were amazed that they were able to come into close contact with the wild animals, even playing with the lion cubs and stroking the giraffe. A great time was had by all.





A TRIBUTE TO OUR COMBONIS

On Friday 16 May the Comboni Missionaries commenced their celebration of being in South Africa for 90 years,  with a beautiful celebration at Maria Trost Mission outside Lydenburg, where they have been active for most of that period.  The church in South Africa owes so much to their dedicated service and, so indeed, does Mercy House and the refugee community. We thank them and assure them of our loyal support and prayers for many more prosperous years and many vocations! In the photos we see Father Jeremias,. provincial, Father Fabio, the mission superior, the mission sister, Diana and David who were present for the happy occasion.






01 April, 2014

A TIME OF BLESSINGS AND GRACE    -   HISTORIC VISIT OF FATHER ANDREW FROM THE U.K.

We are happy to report that Father Andrew Moss, from St Richard’s parish in England, visited Mercy House from the 11th to the 18th March 2014.  This short spell of 8 days was jam-packed with most interesting experiences.  We made sure that Father got to know our refugees on the ground level - in their day-to-day life situations.  We visited Shadadi (whom we took in as an orphan at age 8), at the hospital where he now works, all the schools that our Mercy House children attend, critically poor homes, Mari-Bernard’s garden, the place where Zeng’s parents sell at their inner-city street stall, the centre where the ladies learn crafts, the inner-city scholars’ orchestra where our Norbert plays his clarinet etc.
These experiences are captured in the many photos which will follow below.


March 2014: Father and Diana visiting Shadadi where he works


Father Andrew with  the 4 MH children attending Phoenix college

Father visiting Zeng's family at their home

Visiting the place where Zeng’s parents sell at their inner-city stall


  
Norbert playing the clarinet that Father Andrew  brought for him from the UK


From Left to Right: Fr Andrew, Diana and Dr Martin

 FATHER ANDREW’s REFLECTION ON HIS VISIT TO 

MERCY HOUSE



In March of 2014 I had the privilege of visiting Mercy House and sharing its life for a week. I learned that it is only by sharing in the life of MH that one can truly understand what it is about. Before I went I imagined MH to be something of an accommodation agency, providing a much needed roof over the head of those fleeing from conflict. However, I can see now that MH is so much more; above all MH acts as a mother to those who live beneath its roof. Mothers are concerned about the big needs of their children – food, shelter, education – and so is MH. But mothers are also concerned with the small details of their children’s lives – ensuring they travel safely, are ready for school, encouraging them to explore life-enhancing opportunities, such as music.  These are all what MH does as well. As such, beneath the roof of MH, I met confident young people who had stability and security in their lives, because they know they are loved.  I found them anxious to make a contribution to the wider community and to the world.  I also discovered that MH’s influence extends far beyond its walls; it helps so many who do not actually live there  in paying for school fees, assisting with starting a business, helping with finding goods to sell on the streets of Johannesburg, and in many other ways too numerous to list here.

The week spent alongside MH was packed full of visits and activities, all memories to treasure. However, there are three events from the week which can serve to summarise the whole experience; the first of these events was a visit to a project called the ‘Music Enlightenment Programme’ in the centre of Johannesburg.

The amazing youth orchestra that our Clarinet boy, Norbert, has joined through Phoenix College
This programme consists of an orchestra formed from girls and boys from deprived backgrounds who attend nearby schools, including 2 Mercy House boys.

I heard the orchestra energetically rehearsing some pieces for a performance the next day; much of the music was not written down, the orchestra was one which had children of varying levels of ability, but the gifted conductor coaxed from the ensemble a sound that was truly wonderful.


Meeting Mr Mike Thiel principal of Dominican Convent School


The second memorable event was a visit to the Dominican Convent School. This excellent, private Catholic school takes a small number of MH children at reduced fees. I was able to see how MH children thrive at this school with its excellent resources and leadership, together with a strong Catholic ethos. At the same time, the school was keen to emphasise how much MH children give to the school and are excellent students. As part of the visit the school even organised an exhibition of the award-winning artwork of Zeng, a MH student.
Zeng with his own art work which was put on exhibition especially for our visit to his school

The third memorable event was that of a visit to the home of Dr Martin Kalenga. As a medical student in his home country, he was forced to flee from war with nothing, and found refuge at MH. Thanks to help from MH in a myriad of different ways, Dr Martin qualified as a doctor in 2002. He is now a specialist.  We visited  Dr Martin and his family at his home, and  it was moving to hear him speak with deep gratitude to MH for helping him turn his life “down side up”, to achieve his dreams.

Throughout the week I often thought of that title of Our Lady – Mother of Mercy. For me this encapsulates the work of Mercy House; it shares in the work of Mary who is the Mother of God and our mother as well. May MH continue to act as a mother to so many, to share in Mary’s role of leading us to Jesus, the source of all mercy.

Mama Berthild wearing the apron which is part of the crafts that she is making

The 5 Congolese children orphaned when their relatives were killed in an explosion beside their house

Father Andrew and Moise

 Front entrance of the Combonis Provincial House where Fr Andrew stayed.

Interior of Comboni chapel  where Father Andrew offered daily mass

View of Schoenstatt marian shrine where Fr concelebrated


Let us entrust the work of Mercy House to the prayers of Our Lady, Mother of Mercy, so that God’s work will continue to be done in this corner of his world.

Father Andrew Moss                                                                                       March 2014

Visitors

Events

For those who live in Johannesburg or nearby, Father Jeremias will again celebrate Holy Mass with us at Mercy House on public holiday, Tuesday, 16th December. We invite all our readers and friends. Please be there at 9.30 a.m.

Our team

Diana Beamish

Emmanuel Musa Mulamba

David Mc Callum

Diana Gordon Grant

Peter Holding

John Faller
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Please contact Diana Beamish
Email: diana.beamish@absamail.co.za
Tel: +27 011 325 4785
Cell: +27 072 437 4009

Notice Board

For those who live in Johannesburg or nearby, Father Jeremias will again celebrate Holy Mass with us at Mercy House on public holiday, Tuesday, 16th December. We invite all our readers and friends. Please be there at 9.30 a.m.

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We will have our holiday picnic at the park on Thursday, the 18th December. All our friends are invited. We will leave for the park at 12 noon.

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Of course we will be celebrate Christmas as usual, with a lunch on Christmas day and the visit of Father Christmas.

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To all our benefactors and co-workers, not only in South Africa, but also overseas in the USA and UK, thank you so much for your encouraging loyal support: all this is possible through you. May God reward you in the ways you need it most. And have a happy Christmas.