In 1958, the Franciscan Nardini Sisters came to Nkandla, South Africa, as missionary nurses providing care to the community via the Nkandla Mission Hospital. In 1976, the Sisters expanded their outreach efforts via the Sizanani Centre, offering adult education, vocational training and nutritional initiatives to augment their medical services.
During the 1990’s, the Nardini Sisters, who were employed as medical professionals at Nkandla Hospital, witnessed daily the devastating effects of a deadly virus sweeping across the region. The consequences of HIV/AIDS in South Africa were far reaching, especially in rural communities like Nkandla, where extreme levels of poverty persist.
The impact of HIV/AIDS on children was of particular concern to the Sisters. Too often, they witnessed the eldest children in families, regardless of age, serving as the caregivers of their sick and dying parents. They also had to assume the role of parent; this responsibility would carry on long after their parents died. As HIV/AIDS related deaths increased, the Nardini Sisters responded by converting the Sizanani Centre into a children’s home where those affected would be supported until they could be placed with relatives or in foster care.
In 2005, as antiretroviral treatment (ART) options increased in South Africa, Sister Ellen (Dr. Maria Lindner), resigned her position as Medical Manager of Nkandla Hopsital in order to respond to the needs of the community. She envisioned a coordinated mobile response that would reach those who might not otherwise have access to care.
In January 2006, Sizanani Outreach Programme (SOP) was established with a team of four caregivers recruited from the local community. Today, Sizanani employs 74 staff members from the community who deliver care and services to more than 1,000 families in 75 areas of Nkandla.
Our healthcare providers, social workers, community caregivers, peer educators, drivers, administrative support staff and volunteers work together to deliver needed services to individuals and families in their homes or via outlying service points (e.g. schools, clinics and community venues). Sizanani works with and supports community based networks, collaborating closely with local clinics, government departments, traditional leadership, churches, and community organisations in the Nkandla area.
Caritas Christi Urget Nos, “The love of Christ urges us on” (2 Cor 5:14) is the motto of the Franciscan Nardini Sisters. Their founder, Blessed Father Paul Joseph Nardini commissioned the Sisters to bring the Good News to the poor through works of charity.
In November 1958, the Nardini Sisters arrive in Nkandla, joining the Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing, who founded the Nkandla Mission Hospital in 1939. Then in January 1959, they assume responsibility for Nkandla Hospital and the Nursing School, relieving the Benedictine Sisters.
In 1976, the Nardini Sisters open the Sizanani Training Centre, offering adult education courses that promote self-reliance, in order to combat poverty and malnutrition. In 1978, the Nkandla Mission Hospital becomes a government institution and the sisters continue working as government employees.
Sister Sola Schaumann moves some of the Sizanani Centre services to the Sizanani Huts (KwaMagogo) at the Convent.
In 1994, the KwaZulu-Natal government takes over the hospital and it becomes the Nkandla District Hospital. Later, in 1998 Sister Ellen, also known as Dr. Lindner, becomes more involved in the Nkandla Hospital first as Hospital Manager and then as Medical Manager.