IKHAYA McNAMEE Caters for Walmer Township


When you visit Ikhaya McNamee and walk round its airy, spacious bedrooms, its common room and see all the other “mod cons”, it is hard to imagine how much time, effort, faith and plain hard work the good people of St Bernadette’s Conference of St Vincent de Paul in Walmer put into its creation. Among other charitable works by them had been delivering and handing out food parcels to the needy in Walmer Township from the boots of their cars for some time.

The in 1982 they met Ester Mbusi, who lived in Topia Street. Ester spontaneously made her house a distribution point for the parcels and so greatly simplified the work of the St Vincent de Paul members. She also offered to house some of the frail in a shack in her backyard. The shack, however, was in very poor state. It had a pole in the middle supporting the roof. The floor was below ground level ad turned into a pool of water when it rained. And for the few elderly and frail housed there it would have been a death trap in the event of fire.

This so worried Sheila Storar that she appealed to Dr Trudy Thomas, whom she knew, for help. A R2000 donation from her was just the impetus required for a start to provide better and safer accommodation for them. Site No. 30 in Selani Street was acquired and work began to construct a haven that was dry, safe and comfortable. A member, John Molyneaux, who is still active in the movement, managed to source large slabs of polystyrene that could be fitted together to form walls. Together with a building foreman seconded to the project by Brian Sher, a contractor, a building was erected. The walls were lined with wire mesh then plastered over to give a sturdy structure that could house six people. Paddy McNamee, also a member, who eventually moved to Australia, was employed by the then Bantu Administration and he unravelled the tangle of red tape and also did sterling work on the project. So much was this appreciated, that it was named Ikhaya McNamee in his honour. Later a well-equipped mobile home was incorporated and 14 people could be housed and cared for.



Some 24 years on, wind, rain and sun had not been kind to the haven. It was deteriorating badly and was in need of urgent attention. In 2005 Peter van Staden, the president of the St Bernadette’s Conference, applied to the Lotto for funds and R1,8m was granted for the necessary refurbishment and improvements.

Plans were drawn up, municipal approval obtained and the Ikhaya McNamee that you see today was built, furnished, equipped and staffed. It could accommodate 16 people. An application to the Department of Social Development to have the haven registered as a frail care facility was successful and a subsidy for 12 beds was granted. With that came more demanding requirements for resources in administration staffing, management and control, and permanent supervision.

Thus it was that an enterprise started in a backyard shack in Topia Street by a group of volunteers had come of age and now required the presence of a professional body well versed in the field of caring for the frail and aged. It was the Echo Foundation that they turned in their quest for long-term viability and security. Negotiations were successful and in 2008, after years of laudable work done with unwavering steadfastness, the home was handed over and its future secured.


The ladies and gentlemen that it home enjoy the undivided attention of assistant nurse Liska Oelofse and care workers, who make sure that their days are active, carefree and secure. Liska has lived in the home in her own flat for three and a half years. She trained at the Provincial Hospital in Port Elizabeth.

The Department of Social Services still only subsidises 12 beds and that the maximum number of residents has never exceeded 14. That’s not the only limiting factor though. There are many organisations at work in the community providing a variety of services and there is still a general preference to keep the elderly in the extended family. It has been noted that subtle changes are taking place and with growing affluence, mounting interest is being shown in Ikhaya McNamee and the services it provides. More members of the community are investigating it and find it a good place that provides quality care for the special needs of the aged and frail members of their families, and decide to place them there and not feel that they are abandoning them.


They have 12 residents and could accommodate 16, but because of the financial constraints we cannot admit more than 12. The home could do with comfortable outdoor chairs and a couple of outdoor tables. Also, some matching crockery, duvet inners, bedside mats, non-slip bath mats, matching curtains etc.
Another great need is for nappies. Most of the residents are incontinent and to supply them with nappies for a month cost R 800 per person.
The residents at Ikaya enjoy singing and music, someone to do manicures and pedicures etc. They enjoy it when the community visits them.


Joey Lohuis
Tel: 041 586 0156
E-mail: socservman@echofoundation.co.za
Website: http://www.echofoundation.co.za/

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