22 May, 2014

THE BLESSING OF JOY

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

UPDATE – 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

09 January, 2014

Update January 2014

The Lord bless you and keep you;The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. (Number 6: 24-26).

These three verses are called the priestly blessing in the OT. It is a blessing that the priests give over the people when they part from the Temple or the synagogue. Those who receive the blessing bow their heads and listen attentively to the words of the priest.
Some Bible scholars see in it a reference to the Trinity. There is a triple invocation of the Lord to bless the people of Israel:
-      The first verse refers to God the Father who protects;
-      The second concerns God’s face, Christ, who is gracious and forgiving;
-      The third verse is a peace blessing which can be attributed to the Holy Spirit who descends upon Jesus like a dove.

Recently a silver amulet was discovered with this blessing in it. It is believed the amulet goes back to the 7th century Before Christ. Therefore, it is considered the oldest known remnant of Scripture.
It is a beautiful blessing for the whole year. A blessing to be bestowed upon us and upon the world. It is a blessing that gives us the sense of God’s Call to be and become a Blessing. A blessing that shows our Identity as a family, a community, fashioned and moulded in the likeness of the Trinity. A blessing that gives us hope and encourages us to keep the flame alive, so that Mercy House may continue being a blessing to our society and especially to those who journey through life under its wings!

"May the Lord bless you and keep you, may he let his face shine on you and give you his peace."
Fr Jeremias




2013: A YEAR OF GRACE AND BLESSINGS

When looking back at the highlights of 2013 we have to acknowledge that Mercy house has to be one of God's favourite and most favoured creations! Indeed, it was a year of achievement, joy, blessings and grace, as the following summary shows..

In January we had our first Mercy House Information Morning, which proved to be highly successful and beneficial for our benefactors - the invited guests - good for them to get a closer look at our work.  11 of our children went back to school and 6 tertiary students to their colleges and universities. Everyone in the house was doing some form of training... even the ladies doing courses in dressmaking and handcrafts. 

In February, English classes for refugee women were started, with courses running the whole year. 
  

Easter was quite unique since, for the first time ever, a huge Easter Bunny came to visit us, an occasion of great joy. In May, after 4 years of study, Meshack Rafik graduated with a bachelor's degree in Education. During 2013 he did his honours degree at Wits, on implementing Information Technology programmes in schools.  He did so well in this that Wits has now given him a bursary to his Masters' Degree there during 2014. We congratulate him for this.


In May we met and were able to assist 5 Congolese siblings, seen in the picture below, whose parents and whole extended family had been killed in an explosion beside their home in Congo.



In June, Nigerian Stella Ozoane joined our team of co-workers, and got down to teaching English to newcomers.  She was joined by Sister Clementine of the Holy Family Sisters, who started preparing children for Baptism and First Holy Communion. 



In August we received 12 year old Danny into our house community, coming from Goma in Eastern DRC, where his whole family had just been killed by the M23 army.

On 24 September we held our second Mercy House Information morning which was also a great success.   


In October Mr John Faller joined our Mercy House Management team to help with accounting services.  Also in October, Jean Paul and Donatien moved out, having studied for 5 years to become fully qualified Netcare nurses, now working at Rosebank Clinic and LInksfield Hospital respectively.  




On 10 December Shadadi graduated from Wits Medical School as a Clinical Medical Practitioner.  



Kenny passed his matric with a distinction in Business Studies and is hoping to study at Wits in 2014 pending finance.


Early in December the national assembly of the Association of Catholic Tertiary Students (ACTS) came to Mercy House on a day of service, doing a splendid job in cleaning up and painting the place.  




Also in December, Mercy House acquired a new baby, in the form of 6 six week old Charlie, a German shepherd puppy, bought from a man standing on the nearest street corner.
  

He has kept everyone very busy, shredding everything he can lay hold of, and irritating the older canines, Princess and Lady, but he is quite adorable, bringing much joy to our community. Welcome Charlie!

December 16th saw our first Holy Mass in our play centre. 


From left to right: Fr Jeremias, Mr and Mrs Rademeyer and Angela , Judy and Alphie Dumbutshena after Holy Mass

We were privileged to have Father Jeremias of the Comboni Fathers to offer this Holy Mass for us.  Christmas was the crowning glory of our year: a truly beautiful occasion, with a play and the arrival of Father Christmas on a bicycle, bringing gifts for all.  We were again privileged to have with us Comboni Fathers, John Converset (visiting from USA), Father John Maneschg and Provincial Father Jeremias, as well as Bez Valley parish priest, Father Arnaldo, all seen in the photo below. All in all, about 60 people joined in our Mercy House Christmas celebration. 








Playing for the Christ Child
Moise on the drum and Norbert on the recorder

Indeed, 2013 tells us once again that the "finger of God" writes on...  Clearly, it is His work...

For 2014, we look forward to a year of "walking with God": He who began our work most certainly will also sustain it. It is only in this belief, that, with hope and joy, confident in the future, we go into the year ahead.  We thank and pray His blessing on everyone who supports our work and all those who work with us to make Mercy House a joyful, healing and fruitful place, "a little bit of heaven on this earth!"


THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS ALL MERCY HOUSE CO-WORKERS AND SUPPORTERS.

Contact details

82 North Avenue
Bez Valley, Johannesburg
South Africa

Contact person: Diana Beamish
diana.beamish@absamail.co.za
Telephone: 011-325 4785

That´s Mercy House

That´s Mercy House
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