Founded in 2001, Baphumelele Children’s Home was a humble woman’s response to an alarming situation. Rosie Mashale had no money when she decided to provide a home and place of safety for children who were orphaned, abandoned, abused or neglected, but she had a vision, a big heart, a lot of resolve and the constant support of her community.
There are many heart-wrenching stories behind our children’s lives – including cases of abandonment in plastic bags, on freeways and at train stations – which makes it an especially wonderful experience to see so many of these children now living a happy and purposeful life. Everyone at Baphumelele shares the common desire to instill a sense of love and peace in the lives of these children, enabling them to grow into independent and thoughtful members of their community.
The children’s home now provides these orphans and vulnerable children with a stable, loving and permanent home. It also serves as a place of safety for children in crisis 24 hours a day. Children are sometimes brought to Baphumelele by the police or social services as a temporary place of refuge for a few days or a few weeks; others have been in Baphumelele’s care for some years. Consequently the number of children staying at Baphumelele fluctuates throughout the year, but its 106 place are normally full with children aged between 0 and 18 years. Because of the wide age range, many families of siblings who otherwise would have to be separated are placed at Baphumelele.
The children live in eleven separate houses called Cluster Homes. They are cared for by a large team of women and men from the community who have been trained as child and youth careworkers (known as caregivers), and who are supported by volunteers. A team of social workers and auxiliary social workers work together with the caregivers to ensure that the children have all the support they need during their stay. Reunification with appropriate family members or transition into foster care is also a priority and much work goes in to building each child’s future.
The children’s home was officially registered with the Department of Social Development of the South African government in May 2005. Being recognised in this way has enabled Baphumelele to work together with other registered organisations to build a holistic child protection service in the Khayelitsha community and beyond.
The sustainability and unique nature of Baphumelele as a community-based project is assured through its deep roots in the community. The children’s home in particular is viewed by many as a sentinel of hope in the townships of the Western Cape and a demonstration of what a community can achieve when everybody works together.
As with all community projects, funding is scarce so we are always trying to find ways to ensure that these most vulnerable children receive the care they deserve. Some of our keys needs are listed in our wishlist however we would also be most grateful for support in the following areas:
Housekeeping – while some government funding is available, it is limited to basic services only so we are always in real need of financial support to help with the more mundane things required to run a well-run children’s home – electricity, gas for cooking, petrol money to take the children to their clinic appointments, money for caregiver salaries and training and so on. The list is long but any help is much appreciated towards these costs.
Activities and holiday programmes – each year, our social worker puts together a programme of after school and holiday activities for the children in her charge. This programme includes essential counselling, group sessions and life skills as well as homework classes, art and craft time, sports and camps………..it sounds a lot but giving 100 children the full range of skills to cope with life is a major part of the work taking place at the children’s home. Financial support is really helpful or volunteers with relevant skills in any of these areas are also really helpful.
Educational support – Finishing school is the best way forward for a child growing up in Khayelitsha where employment can reach up to 50%. The children’s home team is therefore very motivated to place each child in a school which meets their individual needs the best, be it a special needs school, local primary school or high school offering a specialised curriculum (some for example offer business subjects or science subjects). Some times though the best school is not within walking distance or you have to pay school fees – from R400 a year up to R6000 a year. Support for this would be so amazing and impacts so positively on each child’s life.
Thank you all so much for your support – the children’s home wouldn’t be where it is today without your help