St. Theresa's Home from my point of view
I, David Ebrahim came from Kliptown, Johannesburg South. My father was Muslim and my mother Catholic. My maternal grandmother was a member of the Sacred Heart Sodality and a very active member of the Saint Catherine of Sienna Parish of Kliptown.
Religious differences led to the separation of my parents. My mother experienced great difficulty in rearing us children on her own. We were three brothers and two sisters. We were baptised and our parish priest Fr. Embo OMI organized that we be sent to St. Theresa's boys home to be cared for by the Augustinian sisters. My two sisters were sent to St. Phenomena's Home run by the Augustinian sisters for girls in Malvern. My youngest brother remained at home with my mother.
I cannot remember the my first few days there, but I must have settled in very quickly. My brother often ran away because he missed my mother. St. Theresa's Home became my home and there, my new family. I was three years old.
In Guardian Angel's Dormitory, I remember Aunty Elizabeth, God bless her soul. She was my ~gogo'. She was very kind to me. In this section of the home, I was well looked after. At the end of the year, as my mother was unable to send money for us to come home for the Christmas holidays, we remained at the home and I didn't miss my family. We were given a great time we sang Christmas carols at Mass and in the home. We received presents and even went on holiday. I remember in 1969, months before I left we went to Isipingo Beach and spent a few weeks in bungalows. We had a fantastic time, eating, swimming and playing on the sand.
I also remember Aunty Elizabeth ironing. She loved to sit on a blanket spread on the floor. She ironed lots of clothing and sheets on that floor. She would often send me for her handkerchief. Every corner contained something. I knew exactly in which corner the sweets were hidden... I also remember her feeding me when I was very sick with meningitis. She would often say that if I did not eat, I would end up in the grave. My sister Marie was sent for, as the Sisters thought that I was dying. The sisters had tried to contact my mother but were unsuccessful. Marie said that my recovery was due to the fervent prayers of the Sisters. l have not been seriously sick since then. I do get the odd cold, but rarely the flu. Auntie Elizabeth retired and went to live on the family farm. I did not get the opportunity to say good bye and to thank her for the loving care she gave me and all the boys in my group.
The next stage was Our Lady's Dormitory, and the beginning of school. I was very excited and ended up in Mrs. Champion's class. I then went to Sub B, Mrs. Richen's class, and finally Std. l Mrs. Henriques 'class. In Std 2 I met Mrs. Rooks. What stood out for me during this time, was the assembly each morning. I liked the stories that were told and the singing of 'Come Holy Ghost Creator Come.'
In Std. 1, I made my First Holy Communion. It was very special occasion for me and I wished the day would last forever. All the services were in Latin and although I could not understand what was being said or sung, it was still holy and profound. I have copies of the Credo, Gloria, Ave Maria, Pater Noster, Pie Jesu, and the Te Deum. I loved the Latin Liturgy and still do, as I am reminded of the carefree days at St Theresa's Home.
Mother Gabriel made a real fuss about our First Communion Day. She told us the story of an army commander who regarded his First Communion Day as the most important day in his life and it was bigger than any award he received in his life. I miss those days, especially our recitation of the rosary, night prayers and morning prayers together, and the Marian processions to the Grotto. It was fun carrying candles, blowing out one another's candles and giggling ecstatically.
We had a life of routine and rhythm. The routine was getting up, going to bed and eating at regular times. The rhythm was our prayer life. We also learnt about being unselfish and not being materialistic. All the boys were well looked after. We had clothing and very few personal possessions. This was to help later on when going into a harsh, cruel and materialistic world. If you didn't have - it wasn't a problem.
After Our Lady's Dormitory, l graduated to Sacred Heart Dormitory, which was next to the final stage in my development, namely, St. Joseph's Dormitory. I was in Std.4 in Mr. Schoenberg's class. He was very strict and I appreciate what he taught me. It was during this time that I became good friends with Desmond Langton. He wasn't academically good, and I failed Std.4 to remain with him. I couldn't stay there and had to pass to Std. 5. I was now in Miss Fernandez's class and remember Gerald Gow, Stephen Clarivette and Manie Sauls. I went with many of my Std. 6 class mates to Bechet College. This was a whole new experience for me, as I was now beyond the orphanage walls. Outside in the real world. Freedom! So I thought.
By this time I was in St. Joseph's Dormitory. The last stage in my life at St. Theresa's Home. It was in this period that Fr. Hugo died. I also remember new Sisters coming and others being transferred. There was a lot of change. The new buildings were being erected and I left to go to St Nicholas Home in Johannesburg in December 1969.
I treasure what I have been taught and am extremely grateful to all the Augustinian Sisters and staff who played such a vital and prominent role in my life. I thank God for their loving concern and kindness. Because of them I was able to continue my education obtaining my Matric, Teachers' PTD3C, HDE (Unisa), BA(Unisa), B Ed (Honours) Education management) I have been deputy Principal of a Primary School and am now and educator in a high school.
I am married to Sonya and have a son Kevin and a daughter Therese.
A very special thank you and heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to our dear Augustinian Sisters who were real mothers to us boys. I have been successful in life because of all that I learnt at St. Theresa's Home. Mother Gabriel, Mother Aloysius, Sister Regina, Sr. Philomena, Sister Cecelia, Sister John Bosco who have all gone on to be with the Lord. Together with Sr. Marie Therese, Sr. Yvonne, Sr. Maureen Aron and Sr. Maureen Daniels. who gave us boys tender, loving care and the security that we needed as children. The supervisor Mr. Sam Joyce and our beloved driver Johannes Mchunu, both acted as fathers to us boys, and Auntie Elizabeth, Auntie Michael, and Auntie Harriet. May they all rest in the peace of the Lord.