Divine Mercy Centre in De Aar
Little bit of history:
In 1952 they started also a crèche as an orphanage to many children who had no parents or came from broken homes. St John’s Mission Kleuterskool (crèche) had delivered a service to over 100 children between the ages of 2 to 5 years, for many years.
In 1927 the St John’s Mission was built by the Holy Cross Sisters who came to South Africa from Germany and Ireland and they were the ground breaking pioneers of the St John’s School. The Sisters had the vision and mission to serve the community of De Aar and to allow under privileged children to receive the best education possible.
After the sisters departed in 1972 the school was handed over to the Department of Education, and the crèche was taken by St John’s parish community as a day care centre but no longer served as an orphanage. In the last few decades crèche has been going though many difficulties but always stood up for the good cause to serve the local community, especially the unprivileged children.
St. John’s School left the church premises during February 2014 to a new facilities built by the Department of Education. With departure of government school from the church buildings new era started for the Mission and new challenges. Seeing the needs of the local community after time of deliberation the Senate of the Diocese of De Aar decided to transfer St John’s Mission to the Divine Mercy Centre. During the time, the number of children participated in the crèche program increased in number. There was also a need to open a new program for the disable children, Drag and Alcohol Centre, HIV/Aids Centre, Vulnerable Children Centre (OVC) and the latest development the Centre for the Dying.
Unfortunately during the years gone by no renovations were done to the St John’s buildings by Department of Education and it was left in an appalling broken down state.
With the help of the Diocese of De Aar, St John’s Mission Kleuterskool is undergoing a major restoration and extension of classrooms for the children. The play ground has been enlarged and extra classrooms have been brought on, there is a massive dining room as well as a modern kitchen for the children to have their meals, and the many toilets which have been extended and renovated to provide for 258 children who now attend the crèche. We are confident that when all classrooms are properly furnished and the play ground is completed this will be a crèche to be proud of and pleasures for all children to obtain preschool education and also a safe haven for those little ones that do not have a place to play.
The renovation of the crèche’s buildings is completed and the second stage of renovation of the school for the handicap children ‘Kidz for heaven’ is taken place. (Spelling is KIDS but because there are special cares children the word is misspelt KIDZ – parents chose the name). On our premises we have a group of 58 special care children age six to eighteen years old as part of the integration program in the society. At this stage we are able to accommodate the small number of them because of the lack of facilities, but there are over 170 children special care that will be enrolled into this program in the future. Once the buildings are adjusted to the needs of the children we will be able to accommodate the bigger number of them. In our society there is a great need for this type of program because as we know there are many of them in our area but there is no institution which will care for them. Usually, parents or relatives are the only one whom they associate with and they do not have any contact with broader community. By our program we want those children to be integrated into community life, be with others and learn some manual skills.
Often we hear that for a poor person the dying is easy but the existence is a problem. From our experience, even the dying is a problem in our society. There are many people in our area that do not have anybody to take care at the last stage of their lives. The ‘Gentle Care Centre’ situated in Britstown 60 km from De Aar has such a home for the dying but there are more patients that what they can accommodate. In our long debate with our Hospice members, we came to conclusion that there is a need also in De Aar to open urgently such a place. At the same time as we renovate the buildings for the special care children, we started converting the old Sisters Convent into the ‘Step Down Centre” for the dying. There will be a place for 15 patients with the 24/7 professional nursing care. The ‘Step Down Centre’ will have to have proper facilities adapted to the care of the dying therefore special adapted bathroom, extended laundry and proper facilities for the nursing personnel.
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