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Khayelitsha, located near Cape Town, is the second largest township in South Africa with close to 1.5 million inhabitants.

This is a world caught up in a spiral of poverty, despair and crime.

The HIV/Aids infection rate is suspected to be at 40% and unemployment is a huge problem.

Yet at the same time, Khayelitsha, has a strong and vibrant community spirit, with families and neighbours working together to improve lives.

10 years ago I came to Cape Town and met a truly inspiring woman called Rosie.

Today I met Rosie again.

In 1989, Rosalia Mashale, “Rosie” to those around her, a trained primary school teacher, moved from the Eastern Cape to Khayelitsha in the Western Cape Province.

Rosie was disturbed to see young children going through the rubbish dump in search for food while their parents were away during the day, either at work or in search of work.

She responded by taking children into her home, and together with a group of women from the community, began looking after these unsupervised children.

After the first week, 36 children had joined their charge. The name given to this project was Baphumelele (pronounced: bah-poo-meh-LAY-lay), a Xhosa word meaning “progress”.

From these humble beginnings the Baphumelele Educare Centre was founded, which today is an established community crèche (preschool) caring for roughly 230 children aged three months to six years.

While the Educare Centre had developed a reputation for looking after children, Rosie also felt a calling to reach out to orphaned children in the community.

To that end, the Baphumelele Children’s Home was created as a place of safety for abandoned, abused, neglected or orphaned children, most of whom are either infected with or affected by HIV/Aids.

Through the hard work, determination and help of the community and overseas friends, Baphumelele has developed into a thriving community project over the years.

This is the true story of one woman with a vision making a HUGE difference in the world.

When I first met Rosie she was living in a pristine shack where she cooked a huge bowl of soup every day to feed local children in her neighbourhood – 10 years on she has created a Children’s Home and Educare Centre, Baphumelele Woodwork Shop, Rosie’s Kitchen, Educare Centre, and the HIV Respite Care Centre

I am in awe and I am humbled by one woman’s dream of making a difference, and I implore you to take a look at her website and to contribute some money to this extraordinary and very special place.

It was incredibly emotional for me to see these beautiful children asleep in their cots for their afternoon nap today, and to see how far Rosie has come in the 10 years since we last met.

Baphumelele has become a beacon of hope. It cares for people in need while showing men and women in the community that they can make a difference against ALL the odds.

I asked her what was next and she said she is now saving up and getting funds to help 18 year olds who are just sent back out into the community with no support and  who often return to a life of crime, so the cycle begins again.

Rosie’s new vision is to change that – please help her.

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About the author

Sue Atkins is a Parenting Expert who offers practical guidance for bringing up happy, confident, well behaved children. She is also the author of “Raising Happy Children for Dummies” one in the  famous black and yellow series published worldwide and the highly acclaimed Parenting Made Easy CDs. She regularly appears on BBC Breakfast and The Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 and her parenting articles are published all over the world.

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Sue Atkins the Parenting Expert
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