Care for the dying gravely lacking
cope with the terminally ill.”
At the Johannesburg community’s peak in 1980 it had 120,000 members; there are now some 70,000, including a large proportion of elderly people whose young relatives have left to start new lives elsewhere. Relatives abroad are also finding it harder than they once did to provide financial assistance due to the credit crunch.
In response, Mrs Danilowitz championed the Nechamah Appeal, or Comfort appeal, which began in 2007 and has so far raised in excess of R300,000 (£25,000) for a long-term Jewish frail care unit at Houghton, a hospice in Johannesburg. At any given time, Jewish patients make up around 12 per cent of patients in the hospice, which also has a high proportion of Jewish volunteers and runs courses for care workers in two exclusively Jewish care homes in Johannesburg.
The aim is to provide care to those with only three to 12 months to live, supporting an already-existing Nechamah Ward for Jewish patients.
According to Mrs Danilowitz, who became involved in the hospice movement 22 years ago after her best friend died of breast cancer, the cost of direct care alone is over £120,000 per year, excluding any capital expenses.
“The money we are raising now is for the ongoing costs of maintenance of the wards and equipment, and towards the treatment costs of the patients that cannot afford to pay. We can provide palliative care, psychosocial counselling, and, where neces- sary, in-patient services, allowing the individual to pass away peacefully and painlessly, and with the dignity befitting a Jew and a human being.” Nick Ryan is author of ‘Homeland: Into a World of Hate’