I must say I have not had much time to travel as I should. I travel all the time but this year I had less time to go around in the Vicariate. When last week I saw I had a couple of days "free" I decided to go around visiting the communities. One of them was "Ndumo" on the border with Mozambique. So close to the border that Mr Mthembu (first from the right on the photo above) told me that sometimes the company providing the car tracking system phones him to make sure his vehicle is not being stolen and taken across the border.
At Ndumo we have one of the orphans' project run by the Vicariate of Ingwavuma. It was started at the time of my predecessor, Bp Michael O'Shea OSM.
"This is a project run for orphans and vulnerable children in a group of schools in and around the Ndumo area. The project was initiated by a group of headmasters of the schools in the Ndumo area under the guidance of the late Bishop Michael O’Shea OSM and Fr Camillus Mcgrane OSM in the year 2000." (from the Vicariate of Ingwavuma's webpage)
There are 13 caregivers that follow at least 600 children thanks to the financial support of the HIV/Aids office of the SACBC (Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference). They visit them and keep an eye on their nutrition, health, education, make sure they have the ID (identity documents) that will help them access to grants from the government...
Through this team we also provide food to more than 100 children from about 40 families thanks to the support of brothers and sisters in Barzago (Italy).
Occasionally through specific donations, they are able to provide extra help like last months when they were able to add water tanks and gutters to houses built for orphans earlier this year.
The provincial government has decided to invest heavily in the area. Many projects have been announced and we hope would be put in place: schools will be improved, a new library and a school of excellence will be built, offices for Home Affairs (essential to make it easier for the people to have their birth certificates, IDs and access to grants)...
Mr Donatus said: "I wonder if all this development would have happened had the Church not started her presence in this area so many years' ago".