• 07Sep

    Kayalitcha visit

    Kayalitcha (“New Hope”) is a township outside of Cape Town w/ over a million residents. We went there specifically for the ‘Gogos Lunch’ at an orphanage called Baphumelele. The Gogos Lunch is a twice weekly event, where the grandmothers of the township get together to have lunch, sew, knit, and craft. Some of the Gogos are into their 80’s and nearly blind, but they sit there for hours, making beautiful shweshwe skirts and dresses.

    Rosie feeding some cuties. (photo from Baphumelele.org)

    Rosie feeding some cuties. (photo from Baphumelele.org)

    Actually, once we got there, we hardly spent any time with the Gogos. We got to Baphumelele and this incredible guy called Simphiwe gave us a tour of the entire orphanage. Everything they are doing is absolutely phenomenal. Rosalia Mashale began the orphanage in the early 80’s when she was basically just a teacher. One day, a toddler’s parents didn’t come to pick him up, and so she reported the baby to child services. When it was decided that the child would need to be put into an orphanage, they asked Mama Rosie if she would just take the child. Since then, she has begun this orphanage, and had as many as many as 150 kids—from 10 days to 25 years old.

    We saw their rooms: rows of triple bunkbeds, all spic n’ span. Girls on one level, boys on another. Some of the children live in much cozier home-style housing, with 8 kids to a flat, and 2 house mothers coming in in shifts. How they are able to find enough house mothers and staff is beyond me, because it is basically on a volunteer basis.

    Kids in educare centre (photo from Baphumelele.org)

    Kids in educare centre (photo from Baphumelele.org)

    We walked through the buildings on this very informative tour, but what obviously sticks out to you are the children. As soon as they see you they come runnng; begging to be picked up. They are so starved for love and affection. Baphumelele has several German volunteers, and watching them care for the children really reminded me of mama gorillas. They would pick up one baby, hold her for a few minutes, and then put her down and pick up another baby. There was a constant stream of kids that just needed attention—and not at all in cloying way. Kids would run up and just hold my hand, pretzel themselves around my legs, beg to be picked up, carried, high-fived, thumbs-uped—it was overwhelming but moving.

    The project has expanded drastically over the 20 years it has been running. They just recently opened an AIDS and disease awareness facility, full of pamphlets and educational opportunities for community caregivers.

    Simphiwe was especially proud to show us the latest addition to Baphumelele: a hospice type place for early/middle aged people living with Hiv and AIDS. The government has given them funding for 16 people to live there. Sixteen—it hardly seems worth it, but of course it IS.

    FYI, if you’re in SA in the summer and wishing you had a chillin’ beach chair while you soak up the sun: Baphumelele has a small, grassroots woodwork shop which produces really nice beach chairs.

    So, that was our trip to Kayalitcha! Baphumelele was such an amazing place. It was just a small taste of what is going on in South Africa, and what we are about to experience in Mount Frere.

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