On the 23rd February, some of our young scholars were invited to the American International School in Pretoria, to share their experiences with their peers, on life as a refugee. The American school caters for children of diplomats, so it was a very enriching experience, meeting young people from all over the world, and who, of course, lead a very different life from our young refugees. Our hosts were so open to learning about life on the other side of the line. Then the next week, they paid a reciprocal visit to Mercy House, where they could see where we live and meet more of our young people. We thank our co-worker, Nozizwe Ndebele, who works at the school and arranged the whole enriching exercise. The photo shows our Fleury with the host students at the American International School when we visited them.
On 17 March the young people of the St Vincent de Paul in Malvern paid their annual visit to Mercy House. For a change, this time they gave us a braai! It was a wonderful occasion, not just for this reason, but also because this time they brought games to play with our young people which made it so much more enjoyable.
We thank especially Sharon da Silva and Fernanda (second from the right in the photo) who organised the whole occasion, not to mention the young people who came to give us joy.
The other accompanying photo shows Merina who loves our children, with Sara.
On the last weekend of April, we had 2 “We Love Mercy House” days. THE GARDEN AND DRIVEWAY WALLS WERE LOOKING VERY SHABBY. Instead of hiring builders we did it ourselves and it proved to be great fun. One resident, who was working as a builder in Sudan before he came to us, directed operations to make the place truly beautiful. AND WE FINISHED JUST ON TIME for our Holy Mass on 1 May.
Everyone worked together joyfully and enjoyed creating “Something Beautiful for God.”
After our New Year’s Mass in January we were privileged to have 2 more Masses in this half year, on the 21st March, and 1st May, both public holidays. Our Masses always have a very personal and unique ambience and everyone senses it. We are hugely privileged to have the Comboni Fathers offer our Masses. In the accompanying photo, we see Eddie, Donation and Douglas with Father Rafael, a young Comboni Father from Spain. He currently is in charge of a large pastoral centre on Mpumalanga, named Maria Trost. He happened to be visiting Johannesburg for the weekend, to our great joy and benefit.
It was a great joy for us to be able to obtain from a donor some funding to assist two of our refugees to get small businesses going in recent months. The one is importing and selling peanuts. The second one is barber shop. It is so admirable and encouraging to see our young people, with very difficult backgrounds, rising to the challenge of making a success of their lives – being creative rather than acceding to despondency or hopelessness. We thank our anonymous sponsor and wish our young men well with their admirable endeavours. So anyone wanting fresh unsalted peanuts, you know where to come! And a hair cut? Well, sorry, you may have to travel too far!
We are hoping to have another weekend get-away for spiritual enrichment and fun at the Comboni Mission, Maria Trost in Mpumalanga over the long weekend 21 – 24 September. We will this time study Pope Francis’ new letter to Christians on the universal call to holiness, entitled “Rejoice and be Glad,” as a follow up to our last weekend. Pope Francis goes to a lot of trouble to compile these letters to instruct and uplift us. Do we read them? This is an opportunity! The venue in the Eastern Transvaal is so beautiful, providing plenty of opportunity for walks and relaxation. The photos were taken at our last weekend there. If anyone is interested to join us you will be very welcome, but please contact Diana soon.
We were very blessed in late 2016 to receive money from Germany for education to support a large number of scholars and tertiary students in the academic year 2017. Unfortunately, that was a once-off donation, but we are still doing our best to assist 23 young people with schooling this year and 5 with tertiary studies. We thank our loyal supporters at St Richards’ Church in the UK, who every year, organise fundraising projects for us. We thank in particular Mick and Penny Finn who offer their beautiful garden (see photo below) every mid-year, as the venue for a garden lunch. They raised a substantial amount last year which has gone towards our education project 2018. We thank also the parishioners of St Richards for their loyal support. So, it’s back to school, back to studies and we wish all our students the very best for the year ahead.