27 January, 2015

Dear Friends, Christmas has passed. The New Year has come. We look ahead to the future, hopefully positively. Around us we see, not only good things and prospects, but a lot of evil.  However, the quote above reassures us that we are  on a journey, always being led, and that God is alive and active in our world and personal lives. Do we really believe that? Let us remain open, alert to seeing the open doors, believing in the guidance of the Holy Spirit in all events.
At Mercy House things are always happening. Life is always on the move, hence always fresh and refreshing! This update gives evidence of that! We thank God and all our benefactors, supporters and co-workers, for their care, which enables us always to move forward with positive faith. May 2015 be a good year and don’t forget:

“All time belongs to Him, and all the ages” (Easter Vigil liturgy).

On 27 November 2014 Fido Innocent was born to Mari-Bernard and Festus. His little brother, Yuri, was very excited, and it has been a great joy and blessing to have a baby in the house! He was baptised on 8 February at the Bez Valley Catholic Church by Comboni Father Jeremias. 

By way of preparation for Christmas, our residents, Ricardo, Richard, Desire and Ephrahim, set about making our house much more beautiful. We extended and repainted our front gate and repainted external  walls.  It looks pristinely beautiful now, much to our great joy. The photos below show our boys at work, which they did with great joy and dedication. Our thanks to them.

Christmas is always celebrated on 25 December and is the biggest celebration of our year, since we invite all our past residents and those we assist who live outside, to join us.  The Rosebank Union Church, Investec and a few other friends provide us with beautiful gifts, while restaurant owner, Anna, provides us with a delicious lunch for 60 people every year. To these kind people: thank you for enabling our Christmas to be such a joyful occasion. The pictures show our young Father Christmas – BK, our 7 year old orphan from Congo – with his assistant, Zeng, giving out the gifts.  We were happy to have Comboni Father John Masneschg join us for the occasion.

It is through the amazing generosity of our benefactors, that we are able, this year, in one way or another, to assist 13 children with schooling, as well as 6 tertiary students - Kenny who is studying journalism at Wits University, Robert who will start studying Chemical Engineering at Unisa, Zeng who will do a diploma in Graphic Design at Vega, and Felix who will do his Masters degree in Biomedical Technology, Riccardo who will soon start to study nursing and Festus who is already on his way in that course.  Quite a tall order. We hold our breath in wonder that all this possible at all.  May our students do well and reach their goals.

Michael Jacobus and Innocentia were sent to us by Father Jeremias, Comboni Provincial. And what a blessing. Michael started helping us in December 2014 and we have kept him very busy. He is going to be a very great blessing and asset to our Mercy work. Michael is seen in the photo below with Emmanuel, the designer of our website, to whom we also owe a big debt of gratitude.  

Michael (left) Emmanuel (right)
Innocentia will be helping our scholars with Zulu and Afrikaans this year.  Welcome, Innocentia and Michael and thank you for all that you have done already.

In mid-January we restarted our English for Refugees Project, which is run in conjunction with the Catholic Diocese of Johannesburg on their premises.  The photo below shows some of our students with the assistant.

First our thanks goes to Father Jeremias, Comboni Provincial, for his on-going encouragement and support, to Mrs Rosemary Benjamin who supports our young people in many ways, also takes our residents to her home and elsewhere at weekends. We thank Diana Gordon Grant for organising weekly sandwiches for our students to take to their school or college and also her husband, Tim, for their wonderful support of  our work. We thank Sister Clementine for bringing us weekly bread, SvdeP Victory Park, for their weekly delivery of fruit and vegetables, David for his weekly Bible Study session, lawyer Neels Coertse, who works with huge dedication to help some of our residents with their documentation. We thank Judy Dumbutshena, Luigi and Lucy Slaviero, Ingrid Ogders, for sponsoring  our scholars, John Faller who pays our accounts, Peter Holding who does our monthly shopping etc.,  and so the tale goes on.  Then there are our loyal supporters in the UK and USA! There so many to thank, pardon us if your name is not on this list, it is impossible to mention everyone, but you know and God knows what you are doing for Mercy House.   May God reward you all in the ways that you need it most.

We wish all our benefactors and viewers a great new year…  and don’t forget: “All time belongs to Him and all the ages!”

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. 



RECOLLECTION DAY On 7 March we will be holding a recollection day for Mercy House supporters and co--workers, and other interested persons, at the Comboni Centre, 1030 Meerlust Road, Equestria, Pretoria East. Comboni Fathers Jeremias and Gunther will be there to give us spiritual input. It will start at 9.30 and finish with Holy mass at 2.30 p.m. The cost will be R100.00 per person for the day, including lunch and teas. Anyone interested contact Emmanuel : emmanuel@mulsolutions.com, Diana at diana.beamish@absamail.co.za.

Our team

Diana Beamish

Emmanuel Musa Mulamba

David Mc Callum

Diana Gordon Grant

Peter Holding

Judy Dumbutshena

John Faller

Michael Jacobus

Sister Clementine

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Please contact Diana Beamish
Email: diana.beamish@absamail.co.za
Tel: +27 011 325 4785
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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. Happy New Year.