Three Cheers And Thank You So Much St Richards!

Garden Luncheon at the Finns home

On 20 July this year, our UK Mercy Team, once again held their annual garden party to raise money for Mercy House. Mick and Penny Finn host the luncheon, generously offering their beautiful garden (see photo), as the venue. The function was a great success and a very generous donation was sent through with the magic of exchange rate, meaning that it multiplied by about 16! This year it was used to assist with the funding of our final year chemical engineer student, Robert, whose story is given below. Please read an abridged form of the thank you email we sent to our UK friends.


Dear Friends

It was great joy to hear that Mick and Penny have again this year offered their beautiful garden for the venue of another annual fund-raiser, the garden party lunch. A very big thank you to you all. St Richards has been a most faithful and reliable supporter for about 22 years, through the initial instrumentality, dedication and enthusiasm of Ms Judy McGregor. It all came about in the most unexpected of ways. My brother, Dennis, who is a dentist, went to work in the UK in 1996. There, at a braai, he met Judy and Gerald, who had moved from South Africa to the UK. My brother and Gerald used to jog together in Durban and so had become friends in their very early years. Whilst chatting at the braai in 1996 Dennis mentioned that his sister had started a home for the young refugees in Johannesburg. Judy immediately said that she would like to get involved in helping. It did not take long before she got other people interested. Parish priest, Father Kieron – with David Rang – even climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to raise as much as R40 000.00 for Mercy House! Subsequent to that they cycled to Lourdes for the same cause! Father Andrew organised two highly successful classical musical evenings… And so the ball started rolling. Since that time, the priests and parish have been marvellously supportive to the extent that Father Andrew even flew out to Johannesburg and spent one jam-packed week getting to know Mercy House. What a privilege that was.

Fr Andrew from St Richards visiting Shadadi, who came to us as an orphan
when he was 7 years old and now works as a clinical medical practitioner at
a rural hospital. Taken March 2014.

St Richards has been our main supporter over the 22 years of our existence. We are deeply grateful for this commitment and extend our sincere gratitude to all at St Richards who have helped us along our way. To quote a modern hymn: “We are pilgrims on a journey, we are brothers on the road, we are here to help each other, walk the mile and share the load.” Thank you St Richards for doing just this.

“Make Mercy House Beautiful” Day!

Saturday is usually a day for extra lessons, but not the 8th September. This was set aside to be “Make Mercy House Beautiful” day. The lawn was almost totally depleted due to the bitterly cold winter and lack of rain. So, we ordered slabs of grass (at considerable cost!) and replaced our whole lawn. Much picking and digging and hard work. It looks good now, (see photo) so our hard work was worthwhile. Innocentia, our Afrikaans and Zulu teacher also took the day off from teaching and got stuck into the kitchen, with the help of some of our boys and Ma B. See the action in the photo below.

Workers enjoying cleaning the kitchen

Visit To The American International School

On Saturday 9 of our Mercy House scholars had the privilege of attending a Fun Day at the American International School. This was arranged by one of our co-workers, Nozizwe Ndebele, who works there. A bus came all the way from Pretoria to fetch them and bring them home. A great time was had by all, as the photos show. Ivan, a matriculant who attended wrote the following:

“Being at The American School was like being in another world. It was an environment that I am not used to. There were so many activities being done there and I found them fun. I wasn’t just going there to have fun, but to get an experience. As I would like to be a teacher one day, I learned a lot: there were children from different nationalities and cultures, who speak different languages. I learned that at the end of the day, that you have to treat all these children the same! Although there weren’t people my age, it was still fun, as I enjoy working with children and made good friends!” 

We thank Nozizwe for arranging this and the American School for giving this joy to our young people.

Heroic Family’s Loving Dedication

Daniel is the youngest in a large family from the DRC. He is now 12. When he was only a few months old, it was found that he had epilepsy. This disease paralysed him before he was even one year old. The devotion of his mother, who is a single parent, and of his siblings, is simply wonderful. He is seen in the photo in a wheel chair obtained for him this October by Mrs Sharon da Silva of St Vincent’s Society, Malvern. We commend and thank her for her compassionate care and also the family, for their loving devotion to their young brother. May Daniel’s presence and suffering be a blessing to them all.

Daniel in his new wheelchair

A Tribute To The Remarkable Determination And Achievement Of Our Dr. Emmanuel Taban

On Thursday 25 October 2018, Emmanuel Taban received his 3rd degree at Wits University in Johannesburg. Having arrived in Johannesburg as a teenage refugee in 1995, with nothing other than the clothes he was wearing and no place to stay, through his unbelievable faith in life and unstoppable determination, he not only qualified as a medical doctor, but then specialized as a physician and has just completed his second specialization as a pulmonologist – in lung disease! If anything is a tribute to the human spirit, this is, and we congratulate him with all our hearts, we are proud of his achievement and wish him every blessing in his service to humanity in the future. A great life lies ahead.

We invite our readers to read his story, written in his own words, given below.  If anything is, this is enough to restore our hope in life and humanity! Read on!


Emmanuel with his wife Motao and Brother Peter (25/10/2018)

My name is Emmanuel Taban. I was born in South Sudan in 1976 into a Catholic family. My father was a soldier in the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army. He died in March 1993, during a clash with government soldiers. Shortly after this, these soldiers went to our house, and took my mother away. They put her in prison for two months. I was away at the time, being a boarder at a Catholic school. I went home for the December Holidays. On Christmas Eve I attended the Midnight Mass in our local church, and on my way home afterwards, soldiers arrested me. They took me to prison in Juba and then to Port Sudan.


In this prison I was constantly interrogated about my father and brother. They tortured me and beat me. I had to go dig salt in the harbour from morning to evening, with no food all day. It was only at night that I was given some bread to eat. The torture and beatings went on for 3 months. After some time, I was approached by the commander of the prison who said that he would help me, on condition that I become a Muslim. This was my only hope, and I accepted his proposal. They changed my name to Nazir – which means follower of Mohammed. I had to learn the Muslim prayers and the Koran. They then sent me to a centre of instruction for boys in the Muslim way of life, near the border of Eritrea. I was guarded by 3 soldiers. They said that the instructions would last 3 years after which I would be sent to Yemen for further studies.


I had not been there long when I was commended for good progress. This entitled me to more freedom – I could move around without soldiers guarding me all the time. I took the very first opportunity to escape. I walked for 3 days until I reached the border of Eritrea, but once there, I was put in jail for 45 days, because I had no documents. I was unable to explain, because no one could speak English. On 15 September they released me and gave me a temporary document, but this was in their language – Tigris – which I could not understand!


Soon after that I met a friend of my father. He helped me to get proper documents and helped with some money. It would have been too much of a risk for me to go back to my family, so I made my way to a seaport and got onto a cargo boat to Mozambique. From there I proceeded to South Africa. On 23 November, 1995 I arrived in Johannesburg with no money and no place to go! All I did know was the name of the Comboni Missionaries who work both in South Africa and Sudan. I found their number in the phone book and contacted them. They allowed me to stay with them. Father Henry got me into Jeppe Boys High School where I did matric. Father Joe Sandri did me the very great service of finding a bursary for me to enter Medical School. Thanks to the Comboni Missionaries, I graduated as a medical doctor from Medunsa University, after which I specialized as a physician then completed a second specialization in October 2018 at Wits University as a specialist in lung disease.  Happily, Comboni Brother Peter, who mentored me along my way, was able to attend the graduation and my gratitude is immense.

A Tribute To The Remarkable Determination And Achievement Of Our Robert Kagabo

Robert (second from the right)

Robert fled from his home country, Burundi, at age 15 on 21 May, 1997. His father had been killed in the genocide in 1994, and he was living with his mother. One day in May 1997, he returned from school to find that his Mother and sister had disappeared. He was told that they had been killed in the continuous fighting in the area. Robert wandered around not knowing what to do, but a journalist took pity on him and helped.  They left the war zone on 21st May 1997, and made their way to South Africa. The journalist even paying for his transport.  When they got to Zimbabwe the journalist was held back on account of his documents. He gave Robert the money to come to South Africa alone. So, he arrived in South Africa alone, not knowing anyone, not having a place to stay and not knowing the language! He found a shelter housing 650 refugees in Central Johannesburg, but this was closed down a few months later, in view of the unhygienic conditions. Again, Robert was alone. He slept in the streets.

On Saturday 8 November 1997, a young Mercy House resident asked me for R10.00 to take a sick boy she had met to the hospital. As we had 3 refugee doctors in the house, I told her first to bring him to Mercy House so that they could assess his condition. I met this young boy the following day. He was extremely distressed and would not even look me in the eye. He had no clothing other than the trousers and shirt that he was wearing. Although we had no room, I just could not send such a distressed young man away. So, we took him in, giving him all that he needed by way of clothing, toiletries, bedding, food etc. Soon he was even smiling and could look me in the face. What a reward!

The next year we got Robert into school where he achieved outstanding results. The photo shows him, second from the right, in his uniform on the first day of school, together with 3 other of our young residents. He matriculated, in the year 2000, but at the time, there was no money for further study and he got a job in a shop and moved out. It was 14 years later, in 2014, that he returned to Mercy House for a very emotional visit, so many memories flooding back to him of his sad and difficult past. He had come because he wanted to fulfill his life’s dream to become an engineer. By divine co-incidence our Father Jeremias had had someone in Portugal approach him asking if there would be an engineering student whom his family could support! Two and two made four. He enrolled in 2015 at UNISA, a distance learning university, for a Chemical Engineering (the most difficult) degree. All the way through, studying alone, with no lectures, he managed to get outstanding results in the 80s and 90s for his work. In his 4th year, the sponsor found that he was unable to continue with his financial support, so our great friends in the UK, St Richards parish stepped and raised the money to see him through to the end. This was just the crowning glory! His graduation will take place in early 2019 – and what a monument that will be to his own endurance and perseverance but also to the truth that: “All things are possible for God!” Mercy House is proud to have been part of this wonderful story.

Two Matriculants In The Pipeline




This year two of our residents are writing matric. Ivan and Dioscor, both from Rwanda, attend Phoenix College and Dominican Convent School respectively. They have both been with us for some time.  Ivan would love to be a teacher, but that involves 4 years of university study, which may be dream impossible, nevertheless, we are wondering how to access assistance for him.


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