Help Us Make A Dif­fer­ence Lisa Ash­ton, the char­ity’s founder and CEO, wel­comes us to the or­phan­age it runs.

The People's Friend - - Hand Of Friend­ship Cam­paign -

IL­A­MULA HOUSE is a home for abused, aban­doned, ne­glected and or­phaned chil­dren in Jo­han­nes­burg, South Africa. It’s a place that 22 lit­tle girls call home. The chil­dren who live here are aged from two to six­teen and are looked af­ter by a team of qual­i­fied and ex­pe­ri­enced care work­ers.

It’s true to say that the lit­tle girls who live here have ex­pe­ri­enced some of the very worst things that life has to of­fer, but when you meet these fab­u­lous chil­dren and wit­ness their smiles and laugh­ter it is hard to imag­ine what life was like for them be­fore they ar­rived at this place of love and safety.

The chil­dren sleep in shared rooms in bunk beds – all of which are dec­o­rated in bright, cheery colours – and each child has their own lock­able cup­board to give them pri­vacy. Com­mu­nal ar­eas are also dec­o­rated in pinks and or­anges, mak­ing the home feel vi­brant and happy.

“When we opened Il­a­mula House we wanted it to be a fam­ily home, not an in­sti­tu­tion, and I am so proud that that is how the chil­dren them­selves feel about Il­a­mula. We al­ways have some­thing go­ing on to keep the chil­dren en­ter­tained,” Lisa told us.

“The girls en­joy bak­ing cakes and bis­cuits at the week­ends, and they all love to sing and dance. They re­ally en­joy arts and crafts ac­tiv­i­ties, too. Il­a­mula is a happy place.”

For some of the chil­dren, Il­a­mula House will be their for-ever home, whilst oth­ers may be fos­tered, adopted or move in with ex­tended fam­ily, but each case is han­dled sen­si­tively and re­spect­fully by an in-house so­cial worker and the Depart­ment of

So­cial Devel­op­ment.

It is also the so­cial worker’s task to en­sure that the chil­dren have their own in­di­vid­ual ther­apy pro­grammes to en­able them to have the very best chances of re­cov­ery from their trau­matic pasts.

One of the res­i­dents at Il­a­mula House is a lit­tle dog named Stella, whom the chil­dren adore.

“Some of our chil­dren have never known a mother’s em­brace be­fore com­ing to us, and stroking Stella and build­ing up a friend­ship with her gives the girls much-needed af­fec­tion.

“They ini­tially feel more com­fort­able hug­ging Stella than the house­moth­ers. Stella has made the fam­ily com­plete, and de­spite chas­ing the chick­ens around the yard, she is such a good dog. She is a thor­oughly spoiled lit­tle thing and loves all the at­ten­tion that the chil­dren be­stow on her,” Lisa said.

The Win­nie Mabaso Foun­da­tion not only pro­vides the ba­sic es­sen­tials for the chil­dren in its care but also ar­ranges days out and other treats for the chil­dren to ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We want our girls to have the same op­por­tu­ni­ties as other chil­dren,” Lisa ex­plained. “We re­cently had the most won­der­ful gift of a sea­side hol­i­day from one of our spon­sors.

“Forty-seven staff and chil­dren trav­elled in a coach for eleven hours to the stun­ning east coast of South Africa to an area called Port Ed­ward and shared the most mag­i­cal fam­ily hol­i­day.

“See­ing the chil­dren build­ing sand­cas­tles and splash­ing in the ocean is an im­age that will re­main with me for ever.

“Many of the staff work shift pat­terns and we are rarely all to­gether at the same time. The hol­i­day was a won­der­ful time of fam­ily bond­ing as well as hav­ing lots of fun.”

It’s al­most 12 years since Win­nie Mabaso, the lady who in­spired Lisa to set up the Foun­da­tion, passed away. The ma­jor­ity of chil­dren who live at Il­a­mula would not have met her, but each of them knows Win­nie’s name and all she stood for.

“Thir­teen years ago, I made a prom­ise to Win­nie that her dream of pro­vid­ing a safe haven and a place of love and safety for vul­ner­a­ble and or­phaned chil­dren in South Africa would con­tinue,” Lisa told us.

“As you can imag­ine, it hasn’t al­ways been easy, and there has been lots of heartache over the years, but I am so proud of all we have achieved and I have a feel­ing Win­nie would be, too.” n

Next week, find out about the Foun­da­tion’s li­brary and pre-school projects.

The chil­dren all adore Stella!

Stella’s cud­dles are so im­por­tant.

Su­per­heroes in the mak­ing!

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