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Health workers, children get surprise visit from Agape

“But what is even more rewarding is when one gets feedback after a year or more, and the child let us know that they are still going to sleep with their teddy every night and first pray."

A non-profit organisation, Agape Bears handed over 350 specially designed coffee mugs to health workers of Netcare Unitas hospital on Friday, as part of the Hug-in-a-Mug project.

A total of 150 items of soft toys went towards the children’s ward.

“Every prayer, support and contribution for each of our projects are deeply appreciated,” said Petro Maree of Agape Bears.

This initiative involves making individualised Agape (the Greek word for love) gifts for abused, sick or traumatised people as a method of comfort and scripture sharing.

“Friday was just an opportunity to say thank you on behalf of the general public to health workers in general,” said Maree.

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“The story behind the bear is to make a child feel special and to make the child aware that he is loved.

“I have a great passion for children. I was fortunate to grow up in a loving home and I realised that not every child feels loved or cared for,” she said.

“By the nature of things, it’s an incredible feeling to see and know that you’ve changed someone’s life positively.”

Maree said because they usually handed over the bears and cups to people who distributed them, Agape usually did not see the smiles.

“But what is even more rewarding is when one gets feedback after a year or more, and the child let us know that they are still going to sleep with their teddy every night and first pray.

“We trust that after a few weeks, we will also receive positive feedback on the effect of the cups,” said Maree.

Agape, which is based in Centurion, was initiated in 2018, and since then volunteers became more and more aware of how much health workers were really suffering physically and emotionally.

“They usually work very long hours and it is mostly physical hard work to take care of patients,” Maree said.

“What makes the workload worse is that they work with people with different backgrounds, values, dispositions, and therefore the whole factor of working with an individual, apart from the physical illness, must also be taken into account.

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“Often, health workers themselves have health problems, but they have to put aside their own pain and worry, about their own situation while on duty, and put the patients first,” she said.

“We would, therefore, very much like to make many more cups available to hospitals across the country.”

She said Agape would like to partner with businesses, churches and organisations across the country to make this possible.

Maree thanked those, who on a daily basis, made donations as well as the volunteers involved in the Agape Bears project.

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