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Baphumelele - progress and hope for the Khayelitsha Township

South Africa: It all started in 1987, when Rosie Mashale opened a small kindergarten for children, who had previously played on a garbage dump during the day. In the following years, this initiative continued to grow and developed into a social project, which today includes not only the Baphumelele Educare Centre (Waldorf education for approximately 230 children), but also a children's home, a wood workshop and “Rosie’s” kitchen, as well as a centre for HIV-infected people. In 1997, the project was even visited by former South African President Nelson Mandela, which truly signifies a high honour.

The initiative is located in the Khayelitsha Township, 20 kilometers southeast of Cape Town. Khayelitsha is one of the most impoverished townships in South Africa with over one million inhabitants and a high HIV/AIDS rate. According to reliable estimates, there are approximately 14,000 orphans due to AIDS. While approximately 27% of adults are HIV positive, among pregnant mothers the proportion even reaches up to 40%. Most of the residents in Khayelitsha live in makeshift wooden or tin huts, which have no access to clean water, electricity or sanitation. Basic education and health facilities are lacking. Unemployment is officially around 50%, however, in reality the figure is unfortunately much higher.

“Baphumelele” means progress in Xhosa. This progress is clearly visible in the extensive social project that spans an entire street. Since 2000, the kindergarten accommodates nearly 300 children, in 2001 an orphanage was established and in 2004 there have been significant improvements in the organization. In 2005, a project started for young people suffering from AIDS, and since the end of 2011 there is the “Fountain of Hope,” another new project. On a small farm this project will provide a safe and familiar environment for young people who can benefit from valuable training in life skills, vocational training, on the job work experience as well as employment opportunities.

Then there is Rosie’s Kitchen. “Rosie”, as the founder is called, receives unsold vegetables from various markets. In a kind of soup kitchen she then provides food for township people in need. At the end of Dabula Street there is a soap factory. There, people from the Bonita House, who suffer from chronic illnesses, but are still able to work are given a possibility to be productive and make a difference in society.

The Bonita House is a respite care centre where people who are HIV positive or are suffering from other chronic illnesses receive temporary housing, medical care, nutritious meals and counselling. It has a medical room, an office, a common room and a hospital room with 15 hospital beds. Twice a week a doctor comes to visit and look after patients, two nurses are working at the Bonita House and the caregivers are in contact with four different hospitals.