When Elton and David first visited the Baphumelele Children’s Home in the slums of Khayleitsha township in 2005, over 80 children, all of them orphaned or abandoned by AIDS, were surviving in a three-bedroomed house. Rosalia Mashale, a local nurse, was trying to support them with inadequate space, funds or support. Rosie had gained a name in the community as a safe place for children after she took in a baby abandoned on her doorstep in 2000.
Since that 2005 visit, the Foundation has helped Rosie (pictured above) turn Baphumelele into an official place of safety, supported by local government. All staff and volunteers caring for the children have received recognised training, and are supervised by a senior social worker. The centre sees a core part of its role as reintegrating children back into the community – they succeed with over 25% of children they take in. The Foundation has helped Rosie build family-type homes for 40 of the orphaned children, where they live with a ‘house mother’ and other children form the centre to recreate a typical family home as closely as possible.
In December 2008 Jeff Hanson, a American artist with severe sight impairment, donated a beautiful set of his canvases to decorate the walls of Rosie’s family homes. Trustee David Furnish and EJAF supporter Patrick Cox helped Rosie and the children put up the paintings, which made a wonderful start to 2009.
A new Project Film highlighting some of EJAF's work with children focuses on Baphumelele Children's Home and Elton and David’s official opening of the family homes.