Rosie Mashale, popularly known as Mama Rosie, the founder of Baphumelele Children’s Centre of South Africa has emerged winner of the 2019 Daily Trust African of the Year award. A seven-member award selection committee led by the former President of Botswana, His Excellency, Dr. Festus Mogae announced her as the winner on November 29, 2019 after rigorous selection meetings in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria.
Mama Rosie won the 2019 award for her continuous commitment to providing loving care to thousands of orphans mostly from Khayelitsha, a community afflicted by the largest HIV/AIDS epidemic in the world. The abandoned children are mostly as ‘children no-one wants’.
HIV and AIDS are endemic in South Africa, infecting and killing hundreds of people, leaving babies as orphans, many of them also infected.
In 1989, when Mama Rosie moved to Khayelitsha, one of South Africa’s poorest townships, as a teacher there, she saw children scrounging for food in a garbage dump, and brought them into her home to feed them. This was the start of a remarkable programme that has been sustained since then. Founded in 2001, Baphumelele Children’s Home was a response to an alarming situation Mama Rosie is contending with. She had no money when she decided to provide a home and place of safety to children who were orphaned, abandoned, abused, and neglected, but she had a vision, a large heart, a lot of resolve, and the constant support of her community.
The children’s home now provides these orphans and vulnerable children with a stable, loving and permanent home. It also serves as a place of safety for children in crisis 24/7. Because so many of these children are sick, Baphumelele now includes a medical centre to treat their HIV and/or other diseases.
Mama Rosie has won several local and international awards for her unprecedented care for the orphans. Chairman of the selection committee, His Excellency Mogae said “Mama Rosie deserves the award for her continuous courage and dedication to save the lives of thousands of abandoned children affected by HIV/AIDS”.
He congratulated her for emerging the winner of the prestigious Daily Trust African of the Year Award for 2019. Responding to her selection, Mama Rosie expressed gratitude to the committee for selecting her for the award out of more than 400 nominations from across Africa.. She confirmed her personal attendance at the award presentation ceremony to hold on January 15, 2020, in Abuja, Nigeria.
About the Daily Trust African of the Year Award
The African of the Year Award project was instituted in 2008 by Daily Trust, one of Nigeria’s leading independent newspapers, in line with its commitment to African unity and sustainable development, to recognize and reward annually, an exemplary African who has made extra-ordinary contributions to human development in any part of the continent, and in any sphere of human endeavour.
Africans who have distinguished themselves in their various walks of life or do charity projects that are of positive impact to the continent’s people have since then been recognised for the award. Congolese medical doctor, Denis Mukwege is the first African of the Year award winner in 2008. Exactly 10 years after the Daily Trust recognition, Dr. Mukwege won the Noble Peace Prize in 2018, for his wonderful work of treating women who had been abused and raped in his war-torn country.
The award winner is selected by a seven-member pan-African committee chaired by His Excellency, Dr. Mogae. Other members of the Advisory Board/Prize Committee are: Prof. Sylvia Tamale (East African), Ambassador Ms. Mona Omar (North Africa), Mr. Pascal Kambale (Central Africa), Ms. Gwen Lister (Southern Africa), Mr. Amadou Mahtar Ba (West Africa) and Mr. Kabiru Yusuf (West Africa). The award comes with a cash prize of $10,000. The presentation of the award will be done on January 15, 2020 at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja, Nigeria.