EXCLUSIVE: Why South African Rosalia Mashale AKA “Mama Rosie” Was Named Daily Trust African Personality of The Year
“No one has ever become poor by giving.”
BY MIKE De Cerutti Osagie
Editor-In-Chief, WORLD LEADERS
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When the name Rosalia Mashale AKA “Mama Rosie" was first declared last year as Named Daily Trust African Personality of THE Year, many were amazed, asking who is she?
But at last, fresh fact have emerged why she won the prestigious award and in process smiling with a whopping $ 10.000 price tag
World Leaders magazine online can reveal today why she won. Yes, in the words of the chairman of the African of the Year Prize Committee and former Botswana President, Mr. Festus Mogae, “Rosalia Mashale won the award owing to her love for children no one wants.”
He said the South African, popularly called Mama Rosie, inspired hope and courage for 5,305 orphans infected by HIV and AIDS since she founded Baphumelele Children’s Home in Khayelitsha. He urged Africans to emulate her in speaking against stigmatization of HIV and AIDS victims, recollecting that he was the first African president to be tested for HIV.
Mogae, who was also the chairman of the award dinner held in Abuja yesterday, said the committee was unanimous in its decision to honor the recipient because of her commitment to providing loving care to orphans infected with HIV and AIDS, mostly from Khayelitsha, a community afflicted by severest AIDS epidemic in the world.
“What makes Mama Rosie different is not only her managing of an orphanage home, but that she has been receiving abandoned children mostly infected by HIV and AIDS who were considered by their parents and/or society a serious burden,” he said. He said the home had become a beacon of hope for communities as she had given care to about thousands children since she started the orphanage.
“Some of the children are now professionals in different fields,” he added. Mama Rosie is the third South African to receive the award. Media Trust also launched another edition of Kilimanjaro magazine. At the award dinner was the Ambassador of Botswana to Nigeria, Pule Mphothwe; the Ambassador of Zimbabwe, Maxwell Ranga; the Acting British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Gill
*BASIC FACT ABOUT ROSALIA MASHALE
When Rosalia Mashale moved to Khayelitsha, she woke each morning to the sounds of children rummaging through rubbish for food. Unable to stand by, Mashale brought the hungry into her home, and ended up forming a free daycare centre. That was 29 years ago. It became known as Baphumelele, an isiXhosa word meaning ‘we have succeeded’. Since then Mashale, who goes by ‘Mama Rosie’, has cared for over 5 000 children.
10 years into running the centre, Mashale made plans to retire. But then, a young boy was abandoned on her doorstep. He was about two years old, had no clothes, and didn’t know his own name. Mashale never turns a child away, and knew that more had to be done. So she formed a permanent children’s home for orphaned and abandoned kids, and Baphumelele expanded. It now occupies a whole block in Khayelitsha, providing care to children who have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS, have HIV themselves, or have been abused and neglected. Her initiative provides food and assistance to child-headed households, runs programmes to help young adults become independent, and offers health and hospice care. Mashale also started Rosie’s Bakery, where older kids bake bread for the rest of the children, and sell to the community to raise money.
As a former primary school teacher, Mashale has been serving children her whole life. She let go of her own plans when she saw the need that existed in Khayelitsha. “We are here on earth to serve others who need our help,” Mashale says. She has dedicated her time, resources, and home to those most vulnerable in society, all with the warmest of smiles.
In 2017, Mashale was recognised by CNN as one of its Top 10 Heroes, an acknowledgment that came at a time when Baphumelele was in desperate need of financial help. Regardless of her circumstances, Mashale will never give up on a child in need. She plans on backing her kids for as long as possible. “I can’t wait to attend their graduation,” Mashale says. “I’m going to wear a bright dress and a big hat, so that people can see that I’m still there supporting them.”