My Volunteering Time at Klibur Domin

From David 

 When I left Klibur Domin in November 2016 a lot of what was going through my mind concerned “what hadn’t been done”. There were some specific tasks on the agenda from day one. Tasks identified by others, tasks that could lead to giving real assistance to the Director.

Activities at Klibur Domin with the Sisters from the local school.

Snr Joaquim Soares, Director of KD, was the perfect host. Briefing me the first day he took me around the campus, an orientation walk and an introduction to a few of those on staff. Then into his office for the specifics about how best to use my time to help him. Over the next two days I met most of the staff and Iread lots of notes written by previous volunteers.

My role very much depended on access to information supplied by admin and finance staff. I was very grateful for their input. Early on I came to value the fact that their knowledge of English was vital to success of the job at hand. Key people around the KD site were working on a variety of projects within the compound and it was Joaquim’s desire that some of these projects could do with a helping hand. A new bore and pump needed to be commissioned, a massive 190 metre drain was being constructed along the front to carry the deluge in the monsoons and two new buildings were underway. Add to that a new front fence, entrance and cattle grid and I could see I was going to be spending as much time outside of the office as inside. My role was simply estimating the projects, drawing a few plans and getting the material on site. By the end of my stay I was on first name terms with the guys at the hardware and steel stores.

The new water bore delivered more clean water than ever before much to the delight of all the residents. After a  few weeks, a few new pipes and plumbing bits and it was working perfectly. The drain was finished and KD tradies started on the new Clinic. A local contractor was hired to do the new front fence and work began. Security for the residents was paramount, patients, young people and some residents are vulnerable, their safety is vital.

The compound sometimes looked like a farmyard, cattle grazing, pigs digging up the ground and goats eating anything and everything. ”We need a cattle grid!” After much designing and drawing we were ready to contract out the job. As the construction of the grid drew to a close it was time to get all the animals out before the final stage went ahead, ie “the grid”. Picture 15 people trying to herd sundry animals, never been herded before, through a gate. Somehow grid installed, no more animals.

There were other jobs in the pipeline but my time was up.  Finance reporting was now occurring weekly and Richard from Ballarat arrived to take on both the new project and enhance the role in finance and admin. Not everything on the list got done, but everything that was done allowed Joaquim to get on with his job.

I met some fabulous people, had the experience of working in what they call a “post conflict” country and from my cosy little home in Ballarat, I can appreciate how a little help can make a difference.

BHOLA The gentle man who touched so many hearts

 

VALE

Bhola painting with volunteer at Raphael

It is with a heavy heart, we inform you about the sad demise of Bhola, one of our permanent residents who came to Raphael in 1959, the year of our establishment and left for his heavenly abode on 2nd January 2017.

Life has unexpected twists and turns and often what seems to be the very end may turn out to be the beginning of a beautiful story – a story of reaching out, of love and care, of helping hands extended in assistance to fellow travellers in life’s remarkable journey.  Such has been the story of Bhola’s life. It is one which touches the well spring of human compassion, tenderness in human interaction and it spans countries.

Bhola’s story begins with pain and rejection: a handicapped four year old left to die on the railway tracks by despairing parents dejected perhaps by the challenges of poverty and of the child’s physical weakness.

Bhola as a young man

The story dramatically becomes one of divine intervention as an alert Railway Driver jams brakes at the very last moment to save the life of the child. It then weaves through the patient and determined efforts of the newly established Raphael institution (1959) in bringing up Bhola – a victim of severe spasticity, who had severe speech limitations and was completely dependent on others for all his needs.

It was indeed remarkable that despite his severe physical limitations Bhola had learnt to paint holding the paintbrush in his mouth. Protected and sustained physically, Bhola was also nurtured emotionally.  Residents of Raphael loved Bhola like an elder sibling, volunteers were concerned for him, teachers supported him.

Love, Concern, Support, that is how one defines a family. Bhola found one in Raphael.  In his willingness to engage with life, Bhola imparted the lesson of strength and courage. Many volunteers and visitors have written in to share how Bhola has impacted their lives. Anne and Phillip Boyd recall being told by Pam Harrison (who in 1959 had started Ava Vihar) how Bhola was able to recognize her at the 2009 Golden Jubilee and even addressed her as “teacher”.

As the first inmate of Raphael, Bhola’s life has illustrated the efforts of Raphael – patience, steadiness and determination in meeting huge odds. In the words of Peter Newton “Bhola personified the spirit of Raphael”

Promoting the Possible Canonisation of Leonard Cheshire

The Roman Catholic Diocese of East Anglia in the United Kingdom where Leonard Cheshire lived, is launching a campaign in early September, 2017 to celebrate the centenary of his birth. It is hoped that the campaign will inspire an ongoing community of prayer and eventual canonisation in a process of discovery leading to possible sainthood.

Leonard visiting Raphael Ryder-Cheshire Home in Dehradun, India

Leonard Cheshire was the most decorated British servicemen in World War II. An RAF pilot, he conducted over 100 bombing missions. He was also the leader of the famous ‘Dambuster Squadron’ (No 617), noted for flying low over the water in sending the skipping bombs towards their target.

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1940 (with two bars in 1943 and 1944), the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1941 and the Victoria Cross in 1944. In 1945 he was selected by Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, to represent the British Government as an observer at the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki in Japan.

After the war, Cheshire set up homes for the sick and disabled and eventually there were 80 homes in Britain and 250 worldwide. In 1957 he contracted TB and was hospitalised for two years. Evidently this period intensified his spirituality and in later years, despite the onset and disability of motor neurone disease, he travelled extensively visiting Ryder-Cheshire homes and campaigning for more support for their activities. He dedicated his life to the relief of suffering.

Leonard and Sue in the textiles work shop at Raphael Ryder-Cheshire Home, Dehradun, India.

By the time of Cheshire’s death in 1992, there were 270 residential homes in 49 countries in the Leonard Cheshire Disability network. In 1948, aged 31, Cheshire became a Roman Catholic while caring for the sick ex-servicemen. In 1959 he married Sue Ryder who had set up her own network of homes for sick, disabled and elderly people. Thus Ryder-Cheshire came into being. Both were later to become peers and Ryder-Cheshire is known worldwide in working for the relief of suffering through its many homes and outreach centres. In Poland where Sue Ryder worked after the war, she is a national heroine with schools and hospitals named in her honour. There is already a groundswell of support for the cause of her canonisation as well.

END OF AN ERA – Singleton Home closes

In February 1979, Leonard Cheshire spoke at the Combined Service Clubs Dinner in Singleton and referred to seeing young physically disabled people in nursing homes before their time, and the need for a group house for the 18 to 35 age group.

Thereon, we formed the Singleton Ryder-Cheshire Support Group (umpteen cake stalls, art shows, etc.) The local community and service clubs were generous.  We sold cards and sponsored Raphael residents.

In April 1985, after years of fund-raising, we purchased “Locksley”, a six bedroom 1890 weatherboard house with a large garden and back lane access, not far from the shopping centre and the RSL Club.  The announcement was made with both Leonard and Sue present.  The house was ramped and renovated to allow total access for someone with up to a T6 paraplegia.  On the 30th November 1985, with neither of our Founders able to attend, we officially opened the home with a pottery exhibition by Sonja Witt, who had run the first Singleton Pre-School in this house.   In 1992, we created a memorial garden on the death of Leonard Cheshire, with Air Marshal Jake Newham, Josephine Collins, Barbara Lewis and Joan Usher in attendance.  In 2000, we unveiled another plaque on the death of Sue Ryder.

Over the years, 75 people have benefited either as long term, short-term, or overnight residents.  Many availed of the local Home Care Service which extended to personal care.  One person, mute and quadriplegic, stayed eight years, and went tandem sky-diving at weekends. There was a period where we partnered with Hunter Carer Respite to give carers a break.  Residents loved the home, the garden, the space, and the comparative independence we offered.  There were nine years when Witmore Enterprises used the facility for Daily Living Skills programs for young adults with developmental disabilities There were three eras of the house being occupied by families in need because of a heavily disabled member, including a young family with a boy with quadriplegia and four other children. For two and a half years, Integrated Living facilitated their community advisory services, occasional overnight respite accommodation and craft, cooking, gardening and education courses for aboriginal groups.

Unfortunately, with the recent NDIS changes to disability pensions, care-giving facilitators can no longer commit to agreements and no occupants were forthcoming.  After 31 years (37 years for our aging committee), we made the huge decision to sell the home.

Leonard Cheshire said “If too many obstacles present, you are on the wrong track of the LP record”. It was time.  The proceeds of sale and all of our funds are being distributed to Ryder-Cheshire projects – Raphael, Klibur Domin, Mt. Gambier home and Nardy House in Bega

By Anne Boyd

Great News for Ryder-Cheshire Mt Gambier Home!

‘Our application for a Federal Grant for the second Ryder-Cheshire Mt Gambier Home has been successful. Tony Pasin MP, our local member, announced the Grant on Monday 31st July when he visited the home.

Over the last two months we have been finalising building plans, which we had to have ready regardless, as the terms of receiving a grant require us to commence the project within 90 days. Once tenders are finalised we expect to begin construction before the end of the year and would hope to open the second home by October 2018.

The budget for the new home is $1.2m of which the Federal Grant is $537,000. The balance is being financed by significant donations, our cash reserves and a bank loan. The grant from RCA of $100,000 is greatly appreciated and again I thank the RCA Board for the support of our project. Similarly, the donation of $100,000 from the sale of the Ryder-Cheshire Singleton was a major contribution to our budget. There have also been several smaller but still significant donations.

This second home will make a significant difference to the lives of another five young disabled members of our community. It will also greatly enhance and further the image of Ryder-Cheshire both locally and on the wider front.’

Neville Gilbertson, Chairman Ryder-Cheshire Mt Gambier Home Board

Ryder-Cheshire Mt Gambier second home site plan

Some history pre Friday 31st July 2017 as reported in the Ryder-Cheshire Mt Gambier Home Newsletter, June 2017

When we received the disappointing news that our bid for National Stronger Regions Fund funding had failed the Mt Gambier Home Board was determined that if there was a next time we would put in a better bid.

Member for Barker, Mr Tony Pasin, advised us of a new Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) that became available in early 2017.

In order to improve our chances, we commissioned architect Stephen Herbert to redraw the concept plan to include some suggested improvements and to get the build costed by an independent cost consultant Mr Chris Sale. This was done so that we would be able to say we were “shovel ready” and we would be able to sign a contract with the Government within 90 days if we were advised that we were successful.

Plan for second Ryder-Cheshire Mt Gambier Home

We submitted an application for BBRF funding in late February.

Last December we approached Council to discuss the possible siting of the home and were advised that we would need to seek a road closure. It is not really a closure but more a rationalisation to match the existing logical boundary. Council graciously agreed to pay all reasonable costs. This follows the Council’s donation of the land now over 10 years ago. This process is time consuming but our surveyor has provided all the information to Council and all approvals are now in place. Now it is a matter for the Lands Title Office to register the change.

To ensure that we are ready to proceed we contracted architect Stephen Herbert to draw up detailed plans and specifications, to seek council approval, and to obtain fixed price quotes for the build. This has the advantage of minimising any financial risk to the Board.

The new plan builds on our experience with the current home and is expected to be even more satisfactory for the residents. Access has been a challenge but we believe we have a workable plan that maximises the garden space.

Discussions with Stephen have continued over the last six months and we believe that we now have a plan that will meet the needs for five new occupants.

We now await the decisions by the Federal government as to whether we have been successful or not.

If we are, then we are almost ready to start!