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VINCE CARROLL MSC: Report on South African Visit.

Mon 16th Sept -Thurs 17th Oct 2019

 vince carroll with first convert 1950s Granny Mary

With first 1950s convert, Granny Mary.

I don’t particularly like talking about myself, but I feel I should tell you something of my 4 weeks in South Africa. I returned to my old place of work, which is an orphanage- a care centre for 70 kids. Everywhere I went I was given a great reception, and also there by those kids. Some had left as they reached the age of 18, some new ones had come. It’s a wonderful work and run by some wonderful people - about 5 or 6 overseas volunteers and maybe 30 local people. The kids come from all ages- there is a creche with about 20 kids in it, a boys and girls dorm. They go to local schools. There are more girls than boys. The place now has another chaplain, a local MSC priest who I got to know better. There is no slackening in SA  of the need for placement for Needy Children (Called orphans and Vulnerable Children -OVC’s). About one third of kids at Holy Family are HIV +.

vince and kids

Kids at Happy Family School

I attended 3 Sunday Liturgies there, which is led by the kids. I give them a blessing, provide the homily – which is much like the boarders at Downlands, and sing a song or two. My main contribution to the place this time was to buy and begin the planting of 34 native trees making several lovely avenues. At this stage 21 of the trees have been planted. I did that in the last 6 days. The kids were enjoying volleyball and soccer, as they usually do.

vince and chestnut

Fr Charles & Men Planting first Cape Chestnut.

Downlands contributed $4000 to this Care Center this year and I was able to give another $4,000 when I was there.  $4,000 is about 5% of their yearly budget.

My first 12 days were filled up with visiting 23 water projects that the MSC have done there- and inspecting the possibility of new ones. I did this with a man from MSC Missions Outreach, Sean Donovan. The MSC has provided about $300,000 to these projects over the last 5-6 years. As I had mapped that whole Diocese in 1998, it was easy for me to find all the places. We also had a day and a half in Kruger National park, and that’s always special. The main memory of this trip was seeing three prides of Lions- one with about 13 in it. They were at about 300 meters however- but the others very close.

vince and lions

I also did a small project for a Drop In centre for 120 kids about an hour and a half away from my home base. It took 3 days in the blazing heat 40C Plus). The women there daily feed the children - and are given by the government department only 90 cents a day for the meal per head. So they are trying to supplement that food with a garden. About 5-6 of us built a small, intense garden enclosure. Its only 7 meters by 5 but is goat proof with a grill roof – It cost about $1100. It took us three days. MSC Missions outreach had already provided them with a bore and they had excellent water.

vince and peace corps

Surprise, Peter & Julie (Peace Corps) with completed 7.1m x 5.2 goat proof Garden!!

The other places we visited had Gardens, Computer centres, Womens relief centres, more childrens Drop-In centres, schools etc etc.  In each place we assessed the need, and advised them on what they could do and also how to apply for funding. MSC Mission Outreach funds firstly water projects, then anything to do with helping disadvantaged kids or people living with Aids, and finally anything to do with formation/ education. We offered some priests the support of mass stipends they could apply for.

I met there 4 of my MSC priest friends and about 8 Daughters of our Lady of the Sacred Heart of Jesus sisters. They come from all over the world - but are mostly African now. We had a few lovey meals together.

vince and olsh     

Sr Rotee (Kiribati)/Sr Amarka (Nigeria) 

In case you think it was all work and no play: besides visiting Kruger park, I was able to play 6 or 7 games of 9 hole golf on some of my favourite courses. My challenger was a young man called Surprise who I gave a small set of clubs to. We played 2 games only, on courses where the hippos roam at night. He got better as we went along but did not beat me – maybe next time! We also took a one days walk up into a wild valley I know in the Drakenburg (Dragons) Mountains. That was especially for a new volunteer who is a mountaineer. Apart from knowing that country well- I am supposed to be the best Bar B Q cook, and used to run a large garden with 4 boys.


It was very satisfying for me to visit all those projects and meet again all those people and see how they were going. It was a very busy time, and thank God I remained healthy.  Thanks to Downlands for its assistance.

vince carroll sept 2019