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