Fr Gerald Gostling

Reports from South Africa

20 June 2020

From Gerald (Fr) to family and friends

From South Africa, Dundee Diocese (Kwazulu Natal and Mpumalanga) – another glimpse of life


Greetings to family and friends, wonderful supporters – keep well, safe, and happy!


I am sure I have shared before that I have a few names by which I’m called – the most common being Papa G, and a new one, just in passing, of ‘Corona’!! I did share somewhere that this small boy around 4 years old rather scruffy thin and lives in the fresh air in one of the semi-rural areas, who had clearly been told that the white man has brought the Corona Virus to South Africa, very innocently, with a smile, called me Corona! The older kids have stopped him saying that now but it was all treated with good African humour – thank God! Kabongwe uNkulunkulu!

Figure 1.Thank you for sharing our lockdown! Photo June 8 2020

Each one of us has our own story to tell, individuals, families, organisations, everyone; and so I count it a gift to share a little of where I am and where we are in some of the areas that I work, and the work is for everybody; you qualify if you are a human being and that includes, if you want, your goat, chickens and cow, and vegetable garden! No one is turned away.


Because of my work with the Social Projects in the Diocese and now with the growth of CARITAS it means that the Coordinator and myself have been given permits to travel and to work being classified as one of the ‘essential services’, so I have not suffered from the strict lockdown!!  However it is our job to be exemplary in keeping the safety rules and guidelines and encouraging others to do the same. We have also helped others who work under Caritas to be given permits. These are issued with great care.  It means that we have been as busy as usual in contacting groups and offering advice on what can be done and how, visiting them, negotiating with local authorities, working with other Agencies, and lots more. It has been a remarkable experience working with so many fantastic and generous and diverse people. This means that I am ‘up to speed’ with all the projects and most of the parishes in the Diocese – miracles never cease!!  I share below just a few of the many outreaches that have and continue to take place.

Figure 2. A rare sighting of one of the groups! with Constance who is one of the 9 carers; she has been with us from the start! Photo: May 2020


I put below  a letter from one of the ‘orphans’. The work enthusiastically carries on with Veronica Bongwe as Chairperson and Coordinator. In the Township groups we have 63 children at the moment in our care. We have no office, no purpose built houses, no fancy organisation, we continue as we began over 15 years ago and look after whoever lands on the doorstep. Somehow we manage to expand rooms to cater for them and also feed, clothe and get the children and youth to school. Other groups have formed to help as they grow up and leave school – like the Ithemba neNjabulo Project.

She writes:  “It has been tough but together we find a solution to all our problems and we keep happy and smiling and keep helping other people, and we keep the rules of lockdown.  We are one of several groups of children that Mduduzi helps and look after with a Carer. All of us are one big family.  It’s not easy when my mum and dad died because I think who will look after me.


Figure 3. They do grow up!! They look after the younger ones. May 2020

Thank you for loving us and the nice lockdown winter clothes we have and blankets, and food. We are always thanking God when we pray and we sing, God is in lockdown with us. We haven’t been bored as we do some study, lots of chores, and play games. We’re glad the Shebeens and Taverns are closed so it is quiet and no one drunk and causing problems.”

Figure 4. Two of the Mduduzi girls growing up beautifully and safe. Photo: May 2020


BLAAUWBOSCH: A rural Location 

Some caring families – two Doctors stationed at Madadeni Hospital – Rosary Crèche Staff – Sr Leo – Parishioners – Caritas, working together as a Team



“We knew this could be done!” remarked one of the group, “because we knew it had to be done!”

100 local families were identified at this very difficult time as needing some extra assistance and invited to come to the Rosary Crèche in Blaauwbosch which would act as the meeting and distribution point. 

Figure 5. Assembling at Rosary Creche

Figure 6. Sr Leo

Volunteer staff and the Principal from the Crèche, together with Sister Leo did a remarkable job in organising and coordinating, and in the original identification of individuals and families. The donors who were moved to do something were inspirational in their kindness and hands on involvement; also Parishioners from the Sacred Heart church Blaauwbosch.


Each person was welcomed by name as they assembled, and also asked how they were managing during this lockdown period; It was heartening to see these people as I know so many of them from the times I accompany Sr. Leo in visiting them at home; any particular difficulties were taken note of; all were allocated a seat. Others who just ‘turned up’ (as they do) had to be asked to return home but before leaving they received a little food and their names and address were noted so that they can be visited in the next few days.

Figure 7. The Food Parcels

Figure 8. Had to be one of me!

The origin of this outreach was from a group of families which included two who are Doctors in Madadeni Government Provincial Hospital (one a surgeon), and the owner of KwikFit in Newcastle. They agreed that they would not act individually but as a group. The power of this decision was that they put together 100 very generous food parcels, plus some extra food. We concluded the wonderful and happy experience by assembling the donors and all the helpers and prayed together. Contact will remain with the families who turned up to make sure they do not go hungry, and to take action if they or neighbours  get sick, also to help them to access Government benefits like the new unemployment grant of R350 per month.


POMEROY MISSION  (Umusa woMsinga)

This is a very rural and traditional area and Sister Madeleine (Augustinian) shared, May 15th, on behalf of the Projects that help the poor and needy and also help in opportunities for skill training.

Some of what she shared is that “In March at the beginning of the lockdown the computer school had to be closed; we had 35 students who were preparing to write their ICDL (International Computer Driving License) exams in May, but of course these will have to be re-scheduled for a later date, and the same with the other educational opportunities which include our small but growing library.

The activities with the 500 plus children in the programme also had to cease particularly those activities involving the gatherings of the children in the various areas.

We are in contact with the Home Based Carers asking them to check on the children and families they follow and care for.  Our interventions have mainly been regarding food parcels.


We are also anxious about the children who are on ARVs (antiretrovirals) and this week, and following, we are checking to make sure they have collected their treatment, otherwise we will experience many problems at the end of the lockdown which would include grave sickness and certainly deaths.”

“The building of the houses (for the poorest) started again this week and Martin, the builder from Dundee, is completing the 5 new houses to the joy of the beneficiaries, which include orphan households.”

(Here is one with me, Gerald, and a family. There are basically two rooms, a single block built with a concrete floor, no foundations, and a tin roof, and ceiling inside. Water is piped inside the house, but of course no main sewerage.)

“We have photos with queues and masks and some of these bring a lot of sadness and pain; but also there are some cheerful pictures like the one of the happy child above. Whatever the suffering there is always a smile and joy, and praising God.”



Many of our Project members continue to put themselves in the front line and I mention three examples where they join the Health Care Teams who screen from the Clinics and in the community itself. The advantage is that the Project members know the people well. I have photographs of all the members geared up for the job. They have done wonders.


VOLKSRUST  and VUSISIZWE (there to help)  Home Based Care operates from the Clinic.

BETHEL: with PHILISA  (healing: that’s our work)  Home Based Care – from the Clinic

LESLIE/LEBOHANG:  (Embalenhle Township Parish community) with EKUTHULENI (with the sense that we get things done, but quietly) Multi Purpose Project:  Visiting households in the community

PS: Second National Meeting via ZOOM:

on Thursday June 11th from 1pm – 4.30pm I shared with our Coordinator in our second meeting via ZOOM with Caritas Coordinators from every part of South Africa. It was again a remarkable experience with time for each to give a Report, to listen, ask questions etc. We still remain the only Metropolitan working together in the seven Dioceses of KZN; we’re trying to encourage and help others to follow suit as there is great power for every Diocese and group and Project in such solidarity!


Sincere thanks to Roger and Una, Ngiyabonga, Siyabonga kakhulu for sending this sharing out for me, and to everyone for your help and interest, prayers and support – everything we do is supported in prayer and we try to  love in action, izenzo zothando. May you keep well safe happy and blessed.


Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu 

Gerald, Papa G, Fr. G, or even Corona

God bless you love you and keep you safe

Fr Gerald Gostling  20th June 2020

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