/ 9. March 2012 12:27
By Fr. Frank Doyle, O.S.A.
In our South African mission, St. Leo’s School continues to grow. We now have almost 700 children! Though we continue to do good work here, the personal needs of the children continue to grow and at times overwhelm our personnel resources.
Sadly, our school Principal's office was broken into in November 2010, and her computer, printer, and fax machine were all stolen. On top of that, all of the food stored there for the children was stolen! When I asked how the burglars entered, I was shown a small part of a window where we already have burglar guards. I noticed that a piece had been sawed off, so I asked how a burglar got through the small gap. She said it was simple, "they put a child through." Footprints found outside the window revealed those of at least one adult and one child. Imagine teaching a child to do this! It is an all too common experience with poor children here: they are either threatened with harm or promised some money or gift. This child could have been one of our own students because he or she knew exactly where the food was kept.
Thanks to all our generous benefactors, I was able to replenish the food immediately. Never a dull moment: just one little crisis after another! I received good news just a few weeks before Christmas when a parishioner from our suburban parish in Kloof informed me that he and his company would be supplying 150 food parcels for the children who will not have access to the government-supplied meal when school is closed over the holiday vacation (December 10-January 19). What a blessing! We also put together 35 Christmas "hampers" for the poorest of the children who otherwise would not have had any sweets and treats for Christmas. Several of our Kloof parish children helped me put them together and deliver them a few days before Christmas. Additionally, over 500 children from our three Zulu mission parishes will receive a small toy for Christmas.
In February, I will be presenting to the parish a five year project plan which is an attempt to provide sustainable assistance to address the basic human needs of the children and to improve the quality of education offered at St. Leo's. Slowly but surely we are bringing the communities together, though sometimes it is hard to see or measure the progress being made.