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, a Xhosa word meaning “you have progressed”. From these humble beginnings Baphumelele Educare Centre was founded, which today is an established community crèche and Grade R (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, Baphumelele Children’s Home was created as a place of safety for abandoned, abused, neglected or orphaned children, many of whom have been affected by the HIV/Aids pandemic or have HIV/AIDS themselves.
Through the hard work, determination and help of the community and overseas friends, Baphumelele has developed into a thriving community project over the years. In addition to the Children’s Home and Educare Centre & Grade R, today Baphumelele encompasses other community outreach initiatives such as the Respite Care Centre; Clemens Cares for Kids; Hospice in the Home, Child Headed Homes, Fountain of Hope, Rosie’s Kitchen and Bakery.