Rosie Mashale of South Africa

UMURAGE Legacy Maker Rosie Mashale

The township of Khayelitsha in Cape Town, South Africa, is arguably one of the worst places for any human being to dwell, let alone grow up. Yet, over one million people live there… living amidst abject poverty and high HIV/Aids prevalence. In such a place, smiling is coping mechanism rather than an expression of joy. And yet, she smiles, ever the optimist.  From the day she moved there and noticed abandoned children looking for food to the day one was left at her doorstep

She smiles and it gives them hope. She is…

Rosie Mashale…

… a former schoolteacher who so loves children that she started to take them in, since 1989, singing rhymes with them and giving them bread and something to drink. They were not any children. They were abandoned by their parents because of poverty or HIV/Aids infection. It was the birth of her daycare center. After a decade, she was thinking about retirement. It all changed in the year 2000 when she found an abandoned baby boy at her doorstep. She took him in as her own and started her orphanage.

By word to mouth, people heard of her initiative and decided to chime in. She called her group ‘Baphumelele’ which literally means ‘you have progressed’.

Against all odds, the organization has grown to include a medical center for children and another for adults. They take care of those with chronic diseases like HIV/aids, cancer, tuberculosis and diabetes.

They also developed an outreach program for child-headed households where older siblings are left to take care of younger ones.

Since it started, Baphumelele has taken care of over 5,000 children in need. According to its founder, everybody has a dream and her wish is to see them fulfilled.

Right Your Legacy, Mama Rosie Mashale!


CNN Heroes, 2017,