The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 22, 2002


"We give hope"

On the surface, there would appear to be very few similarities between the towns of Carlisle and Concord and Durban, South Africa. For those of us fortunate enough to live in this area enjoying bucolic settings, excellent schools, state-of-the-art medical facilities and material advantages, it is difficult if not almost impossible to comprehend the extreme poverty and disease afflicting many of the people of South Africa.

But there are those among us who have lived and worked and made a real difference in the

The Reverend Doctor John Lombard (far right) of the Trinitarian Congregational Church in Concord visits the Sinikithemba AIDS Care Center in Durban, South Africa where clients produce magnificent bead-work to raise money for themselves and the center.

lives of the people of Durban, the largest city in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, the province most severely affected by the AIDS pandemic. That connection and the ensuing bonds which exist between Carlisle and Concord and South Africa go back to the first American missionaries to the Zulus, more than a century and a half ago, and continue strong to this day. You can witness this at a concert being held at the Trinitarian Church in Concord on Saturday, December 7.

The McCord Hospital

In 1899, a doctor by the name of Dr. James McCord and his wife traveled to South Africa to realize a lifelong dream of his, to found a hospital which would principally serve the Zulu people of South Africa. The McCord Hospital still stands today as a living testament to McCord's dream to heal and offer assistance to the native peoples of South Africa. The McCords were greatly assisted in carrying out their mission in Durban by many of the native people, most notably a nurse and interpreter named Katie Makanya. Katie became not only indispensable to the work being done by the McCords but also served as a godmother to the McCords' daughter, Margaret. Years later, when Katie was in her eighties, she asked Margaret to write her story, which was subsequently published under the title, "The Calling of Katie Makanya."

Today, Margaret McCord lives in Los Angeles but frequently comes East to visit her daughter Muggsie Rocco and her family who live here in Carlisle. Muggsie and her husband Greg have lived in Carlisle since 1985 and have two children, Gabriel and Melanie, both students at the Carlisle Public School. Muggsie expressed her great pride in the work that her grandfather accomplished. Her own family enjoyed a visit to South Africa in 1999 for the 90

Here in Carlisle, she enthusiastically participates in school and town volunteer activities, continuing in the tradition of her grandparents with her desire to give back to the community.


In 1996, in recognition of the urgent need to provide HIV testing, counseling and ongoing support to the increasing numbers of HIV and AIDS patients seeking medical attention at its facility, the McCord Hospital established the Sinikithemba HIV and AIDS Care Center. More than four million people live in the Durban metropolitan area and an estimated 35% of them are HIV positive. Sinikithemba, which means "we give hope" in Zulu, was the first AIDS Care Center in Durban linked to an accredited health care facility and remains the only AIDS care clinic that provides a complete and holistic array of services for a person's medical, emotional and spiritual well being.

Clients come together at the Sinikithemba AIDS Care Center to make articles of clothing to sell and raise money.
Carlisle residents volunteer

In February 2000, Jan and Ruthann Hall, also residents of Carlisle and members of the the Trinitarian Congregational Church in Concord, embarked on a two-year volunteer service mission under the auspices of Global Ministries, serving in Durban. That December, while searching for an appropriate recipient for Trinitarian Church's annual Christmas offering, the Halls were made aware of the critical work being done by the Sinikithemba Care Center and urged the congregation of the Trinitarian Church to generously support their efforts. The congregation responded enthusiastically, thereby further forging the bond which exists today between the people of Sinikithemba and our community.

When the senior pastor at the Trinitarian Church, the Reverend Doctor John Lombard, visited the Halls in South Africa in the winter of 2001, he saw the tremendous work being done by the social workers, the medical team and the patients themselves to keep hope alive for people for whom very little hope exists.

Of the people who come to Sinikithemba and are tested for HIV, 80% test positive. Half the black African population in the province between the ages of 15 and 45 are infected. Stigmas and prejudices hamper efforts to educate and find relief for the millions affected. But despite the misery, the suffering and the dying, the clients who come to Sinikithemba still believe and hold out hope for their lives. It can be seen in the magnificent beadwork they produce to raise money for themselves and the center. It can be heard in their glorious singing while they work which has been described "as being good for the soul."

Ellen and Ernie Huber, also residents of Carlisle, happened to be in Durban during the Halls' stay there. The two couples had dinner together and later in the week Ruthann showed Ellen around Sinikithemba and McCord Hospital.

Approximately twenty members of the Sinikithemba choir (all HIV infected) are arriving in New York on November 23 for a seven city "Give Us Hope" concert tour with stops in New York City, Hartford and Greenwich, Connecticut, Harvard Medical School, Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Washington, DC.

In addition, the choir, in partnership with the Tim Janis Ensemble and the Concord Academy Gospel Choir, will be performing at the Trinitarian Congregational Church in Concord on Saturday, December 7 at 7 p.m. The Tim Janis Ensemble is an internationally celebrated trio specializing in uplifting instrumental music and a commitment to embracing and furthering important causes. The proceeds from the free-will offering of $20 suggested at the door will go in its entirety to support the work at Sinikithemba. A reception will take place immediately following the concert in the parish hall of the church.

Don't miss this opportunity to share in this remarkable celebration of life with friends from our local community and friends from South Africa. Theirs is truly a story of hope and belief and joy in the midst of great suffering . Their presence amongst us can truly lift us up and enrich our lives.

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito