When the seven of us “newbies” entered the Samaritan Care Centre today, all we could see was a bright, beautiful, clean home-away-from-home for those with chronic illnesses. But just one look at the faces of those who had visited South Africa on the prior trip told us that this was not the Centre they had left just a few years ago.
Initially, the Samaritan Centre operated out of a small, one room building. Three years ago, a new building was purchased that up to this point, we are told, was a criminal’s playground, rife with drugs and prostitution. But in the mind’s eye of a woman named Rose, whose heart is as big as this country, it had so much more to offer. Two years ago, members of the former mission team helped to frame rooms in an empty shell of a building. But today…today, vegetable gardens fill the side lawn, large windows allow the sunlight and breeze to pass through, a stove and microwave ease the work of the Centre’s cooks, and the male and female patients have separate rooms to help maintain their privacy. With a heartwarming grin, patients like Victor tell us about the excellent treatment that they receive here — that he receives far better care here at the Centre than when he has to go to the hospital in East London. It is the generosity of the Country Club congregation, in large part, that has helped to make the physical space what it is today.
The Centre’s coffers are never full — in fact, they’re lucky if they’re not plain empty — but somehow, with a donation of food from a church here, an inexplicably small government stipend for a disabled individual there, through anti-viral and other medications provided by a few local clinics, and last but certainly not least, thanks to a dedicated “staff” that is paid little or nothing at all, the Centre manages to make ends meet each month. Today, we had the pleasure to serve tea to these devoted women and men — a small offering of thanks for their devotion to so great a cause.
See some before and after pictures below of the old and new Samaritan Centres. And for the members of the Sewing Group, I’ve attached a picture of one of the children from the orphanage in her new pillowcase dress.
Samaritan Centre, before:
Samaritan Centre, after: