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

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