Joan’s love kept many standing

2015-08-26 06:00
The late Joan Goosen. 

The late Joan Goosen. Photo: Supplied

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SHE embraced parents and their children with severe mental disabilities with arms of love and kept them standing when their grief became unbearable.

The late Joan Goosen (78) of Port Elizabeth, founder of the Aurora centre was honoured with words like these at a memorial service in Central earlier this month. Goosen passed away after losing her battle to cancer at the beginning of August.

According to people paying their last respects, Goosen was a remarkable woman who lightened the burden for many families through decades of dedication at the Aurora centre.

Helena Kolbe of PE met Goosen in 1984, when Kolbe and her husband John realised their late son, John-John, was severly mentally disabled and that he would need specialised care for the rest of his life.

“I cannot adequately describe the way in which her arms opened and covered us with love. We were experiencing intense grief at the time and Joan kept us standing.”

The Kolbes later lived in Cape Town, but moved back to PE in 2010, when Aurora once again became a safe haven for John-John. “John-John was 26 at the time. He passed away shortly after being back at Aurora. And just as Joan carried us when we first found out about his disability, she was once again the tower of strength and support, keeping us standing after his passing.”

Goosen was one of the founders of the Aurora centre in 1977. Today 106 people with severe mental disabilities are being cared for there by 80 dedicated staff members.

She is survived by husband André, sons Raoul (52) and Pierre (49), daughter Dalene (47), two daughters-in-law and five grandchildren

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