It is not exactly ten years yet (as Archbishop Tutu opened the home on World Aids Day, 1 December 2002), but as Di Oliver (chair of board) and Karin Chubb (co-founder) made clear, already from on early 2002 a small group of committed activists met regularly at the Day Care Clinic to make plans for a place to care for children living with HIV/Aids who had no other adult care giver.
At the time the discrimination around HIV/Aids was much worse than today. Dr Lutz van Dijk (co-founder) reminded everybody that then there were only two ladies in Masiphumelele who openly came out about her HIV status.
Out of the once small group of activists after ten years a strong network of several NGO’s in the field of health and education has grown - and about 60 representatives were present on this day to celebrate together with HOKISA: From the committed doctors and nurses of the Day Care Clinic to the Desmond Tutu Clinic and new Youth Centre, from Masicorp Directors representing the Masi library and all their work around learning support to creches like Mazikhane and Sinethemba (for children with special needs) to the Isiqalo surfing youth group - to mention just a few.
Premier Zille said in her speech: “The romantic notion of a happy family of fifteen orphans looked after by a dedicated Mama is nonsense. No Mama can give those children the opportunity they need to make a success of their lives. At Hokisa there is a holistic development of the children and the capacity to intervene. This is a model we should look at.”
Dr Werner and Birgit Simon brought a donation from the Canisius College in Berlin where parents had added to the donations their children had started to collect. They also brought soccer kits from the University of Berlin.
All were most moved by the personal account of HOKISA senior childcare worker and teamleader Eunice Mbanjwa who told the audience how she came in 2003 to Masiphumelele as a sick mother searching for work together with her seriously ill son of three years. She was told that her son will never be 12 years. Desparately she brought her child to HOKISA and volunteered herself also. After a while a position of childcare worker in training was offered to her - and in September last year her son celebrated his 12 birthday !
Nomfundo Walaza, CEO of the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre, ended the ceremony with a prayer: “God of all creation ! We hope that you will instill in each child a desire to learn, and an assurance that the world is filled with possibilities for a better life. We thank you for the gift of life, and for constantly reminding us to be mindful of all those who are less fortunate that us.”
We want to thank everybody who came to join us in our celebration of HOKISA working for ten years in the community of Masiphumelele!
Photographs: Nic Bothma