Brief Summary from Maria Gaba, Organiser and Social Worker at Mpumelelo Orphanage/ Day Care Centre:


Windmill Park Squatter Camp

I started being a volunteer Social Worker in 1994 in Windmill Park Squatter Camp.  I then realised that the child abuse in my community was very high and decided to help these helpless orphaned, abused and abandoned children.

In 1998 I started Mpumelelo Day Care Centre to try and keep these children of the street and keep them safe.  I am working with the Christian Social Services in Windmill Park. Together with the Police they often bring these children to the Creche until we can find a place of safety but many times they end up staying with me at my place the "orphanage"
We have 46 children at the Centre ranging from babies to 6yrs. Most of the parents are single mothers, many unemployed and some HIV positive.  Even the children that cant afford fees I keep them for nothing. We have 4 volunteer workers.
As a result of the HIV/Aids pandemic children often experience the combination of extreme poverty, poor relationships with little prospect of a brighter future.  At the Creche we are trying to give them some pre-school training and instil in them a sense of worth.

We also try and give them meilie meal and cabbage or spinache 2x per day as this is the only meal many of these children get. Once a week they get mince or meat and fruit when we get donations.


With the horrific sad stories of abuse - sexual, physical and emotional and the children having "no where" to go I decided to take them  into my own home/orphanage.  We are a "family" of  21 children. In this environment we try and instill in them a sense of caring, giving, sharing, self worth and belonging. I try to feed and clothe them as best as I can
For 14yrs we have been struggling only affording 2 meals a day.  We never ate breakfast and couldnt afford bread.  Some of the children including my own daughter used to faint at school from hunger. Meat was a luxury most of the time eating porridge /cabbge/spinache.   We now get some donations and the children are eating better.

Sadly the number of orphaned abused and abandoned children is enormous and the task of turning their lives around is formidable, both from education and supplying basic necessities of food and shelter.  Through no fault of their own these children often find themselves in circumstances in which , without outside help they are totally devoid of hope