It was a red-letter day in the history of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth at Metsimotlhabe, Botswana — the official opening of Pabalelong – Home of Love and Care — on the morning May 1. Around eight hundred people gathered under the tent in the campus of Diving Mercy Church where the new hospice is located. Dr. John Seakgosing, minister of health, was the guest of honor. Other eminent guests were Bishop Boniface T. Setlalekgosi (Emeritus), Rt. Rev. Valentine Seane, (Bishop of Gaborone), Rev. Fr. John Corrigan and Sr. Angela Kebakile.
Bishop Boniface T. Setlalekgosi (Emeritus) speaking at the hospice inauguration in Metsimotlhabe, Botswana.
The children from Mmopane day care perform a traditional dance.
The program began with the lighting of the Candle by Rev. John Corrigan followed by the singing of the National Anthem. In his speech, Rev. Bishop Boniface expressed his happiness for the final realization of his dream of seven years — a hospice where terminally ill patients would be treated with love, compassion and human dignity. The Bishop thanked the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, especially SCNs Vinaya Chalil and Nalini Meachariyill, for their hard work and untiring patience that made this day come true. He made it known that the administration of the hospice would be the responsibility of the SCNs.
Dr. John Seakgosing acknowledged the Diocese of Botswana and their generous contributions to construct this beautiful building, which is the only hospice and second to none in the country. He was very proud. He said that a lot more money would be needed to maintain the facility. Even more would be required for equipment, medicine, supplies, and salaries to doctors and staff, so that proper care could be rendered to the patients. He appealed to those present to contribute generously for this noble cause. As a token of appreciation he, himself contributed 2,500 Pula towards the running of the Hospice.
Bishop Valentine Seane thanked the minister of health, all benefactors and well wishers and encouraged those present to support the maintenance of the institution in order to provide effective care to the terminally ill. He also envisaged that in the future, the hospice could be opened for people suffering from serious illness.
The attraction of the program, prior to the blessing of the hospice was the performance by the tiny tots from Mmopane Day Care. They delighted the audience with their traditional costumed dance. There was a thundering applause and monetary showers of appreciation.
The Guest of Honor, Dr. John Seakgosing, unveiled the plaque and officially opened the hospice by cutting the ribbon after which Bishop Valentine Seane blessed it. To mark the occasion, the health minister planted a sapling, symbolic of the hope and shelter the hospice would bring to those who would come there.
In his vote of thanks, Fr. Antony Rebello, director of the hospice highlighted the milestones crossed and expressed sincere gratitude to all those who made it possible to reach this memorable day. Special mention was made of Dr. Barron, who from the beginning was a tremendous support in the care of the HIV/AIDS patients. The spirit of generosity stirred the hearts of those who were present. To the joy and surprise of all, people spontaneously lined up to make their offering toward Pabalelong Hospice as an expression of gratitude to God for the countless blessings received. The collection totaled 35,700 Pula, about $5200.
Story submitted by Elsa Ezhaparampil, SCN and Olive Pinto, SCN.