Dear Friends. This year Mercy House for Refugees is celebrating its 25th birthday. It has been a roller-coaster ride of unbelievable and inconceivable blessings. The new South Africa and the genocide in Rwanda were born in the very same month and year – in April 1994. As a result, refugees began streaming into our country, many being young people who had either lost their families or did not know whether they were alive or not. I was teaching at Sacred Heart College at the time and chose to start a club called MERCY, to teach our students compassion.      

When my colleagues heard about my extra-mural plan they asked me what MERCY would be doing. I replied: “I really do not know!” They must have thought I was crazy, but I knew intuitively that I had to do it, although I was not sure exactly where I was heading or what we would do! The MERCY CLUB caught on like wildfire in the school, the outcome being infinitely greater than I could ever have asked for or imagined! Soon I introduced the young members to the plight of the young refugees and they got involved helping. Little did we know then that this would leap beyond the walls of the school to our present-day Mercy House.

As a response to the heart-rending atrocities committed in the genocide, my aunt, Thora Mitchell, and I decided to start a home to house some of the desperate young people. I could not find any organization to give financial support, so we pooled every bit of money we had to do just that: we bought the present-day Mercy House in Bez Valley, Johannesburg.   I remember standing in this empty shell, with ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in it but emptiness, having no idea at all how we would even furnish it! We also did not have enough money for the transfer fees and it was only with the kindness of our Combonis that we were able to do so. A small group of refugees then moved in each with only one or two small plastic packets holding all they possessed.  

It has been a long journey since then, but just to mention a few of our achievements, with the help of benefactors of course:  we assisted two young men to go through medical school and both are already specialists, another went through Wits Medical School to become a Clinical Medical practitioner. 8 young refugees became qualified teachers, 5 obtained engineering degrees, 3 completed the 4 years Netcare Nursing training, and for the past few years we have assisted 21 young refugees with schooling and the list goes on. It has been a remarkable history, clearly inspired by and with the blessing of our God.  

With all our hearts we thank and pray God’s blessing on everyone who has helped us. “Glory to Him whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask for or imagine!” (Eph 3.20-21)

Diana Beamish

Christmas Was Wonderful
We always celebrate Christmas on the day itself, as this is the day when people without family will feel most
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Praying The New Year In
As we wanted a special blessing on our New Year at Mercy House, we asked Father Jude to celebrate Holy
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Generous Donations Of Christmas Gifts And Schooling Assistance
In late November we made an appeal in several church bulletins for help with Christmas gifts as well as schooling.
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Weddings Are Always Beautiful
Well, this does not happen often and especially for us at Mercy House. But it was a very great joy
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Easter Was Special This Year
Easter was special because one of our school boys, Ivan Irakoze, was received into the church at the Easter vigil
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Saturday Extra Lessons Continue
We are continuing our Saturday morning extra lessons for any refugee scholars who need it.  It is becoming known and
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Even On Radio Veritas!
Ivan was also one of 4 young people, all from different countries, who presented the Way of the Cross on
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Our Weekend At Maria Trost Mission
Two weeks before Easter we held our second Get-Away weekend of spiritual renewal at Maria Trost, Comboni Mission in Lydenburg.
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New Comboni Provincial Offers Holy Mass At Mercy House
On March 21st, we welcomed the new Comboni provincial, Father Jude Burgers, to Mercy House. He offered up Holy Mass
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Nozizwe Is Busy Educating Our Boys!
At the end of March, Nozizwe, one of our very active co-workers, took Zeng and Moise to an international weekend
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