A Report From Our In-Country South Africa Coordinator, Silviya Simmonds:
MPUMELELO DAY CARE CENTRE
WINDMILL PARK - BOKSBURG SQUATTER AREA
Maria Gaba started Mpumelelo in 1998 and currently looks after 40 children - 3months - 6yrs.
As you can see they are in a shack.
The building looks "100%" better than it
The children have nothing except a few
puzzle pieces for stimulation and some charts up on the wall.
I met Maria a few months ago. After seeing the plight of the children, I bought some balls, hoola hoops and tables and chairs. There are not enough seats to go around so the children take turns sitting when the floor is wet.
Kathy Crider, a volunteer on our last trip, very kindly bought some big floor puzzles.
The roof is full of holes. When we visited a few weeks
ago after the rains, the carpet on the ground was soaked
and the mud was squelching up between my toes. The
walls are in dire need of fixing with mildew stains and
mold growth. The wind whistles through the cracks
between the ceiling and walls.
From the picture,
you can see the
"stove" used to try
to heat the room.
The kitchen speaks
The children get mealie meal (soft porridge with cabbage or spinach once a day). When asked
about bread Maria said that they can't afford it. The children also share cups and plates and
eat with their fingers.
The swing in the picture is the only playground equipment.
- Food is always the main need
- Cups, plates, spoons
- Wall charts - alpahabet, numbers, shapes, colors
- Educational toys
- Coloring books
- Reading books
- Dolls and cars - a luxury!!
For creche and house:
- Replace/fix roof
- Walls and concrete on floor
- Environmentally-friendly gel stove
- Carpet squares
- Paint to brighten the walls
- Playground equipment
Maria has a real compassion and love
for these children and looks after 14 AIDs orphans, 9 month-19 yrs, in her own home
as a single parent. They only eat 2 meals a day because they can't afford breakfast.
The baby who is HIV positive was abandoned by his mother at 2 months old.
A few days ago a neighbour brought 3 more
children, 2, 4, and 6yrs old, to the day care
center. He found them crying in a shack --
dumped by their HIV positive mother and
father. Now, Maria has 19 children. Some of
them have been with her for 10 years and
she is the only family they know.
Most have been physically or sexually
abused before they came to live with her. One boy of 10 was bitten, stabbed, hit on head, and his mother told him if he didn't get out she would shoot him.
These horror stories are the norm rather than the exception! Can you imagine both the physical and emotional "scars" that these children have to live with? At least they have someone who cares for them and they are safe. The sadness is that there are 1000's upon 1000's of other children out there who have to survive and fend for themselves.
The ground is owned by the Council and we are asking for it to be given to "the community"
as zoned for a creche. It is ideally situated between a primary and high school. The vision is
to have an orphanage, creche for babies, nursery school and after-school care with trained
teachers and supervision. A place of safety -- with house parents, a place to get 3 meals a
day, a place to get the basic needs that we take so much for granted. A place of
love, laughter and joy, to learn and be stimulated. One day, a place that will have grass to
Maria sews in the evenings to supplement income. Her daughter has a hair dressing salon at
Kathy Crider, American Airlines Flight Attendant and South Africa Volunteer Participant,
began a Karma 411 campaign to support Maria and this Airline Ambassadors' project.
Please visit Kathy's Karma 411 post to donate to the Mpumelelo Day Care Centre, South Africa.
Or, join our South Africa Mission, visit South Africa yourself, and work on a Mpumelelo Project!
To join the trip, follow the instructions "To Participate on a Mission"...
Thank you for your support!