MBA class reaches out

03 June 2005

Helping hands: MBA students get their hands dirty at Baphumelele, a children's home in Khayelitsha.

Students on the full-time MBA class of 2005 at the UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB) have taken a children's home in Khayelitsha, called Baphumelele, under their wing.

The first part of this outreach initiative saw a group of 30 students and friends form teams to tackle various needs of the orphanage on April 30. The busy day included general maintenance, developing a vegetable garden, activities for the children, and a braai for the children and the staff.

Baphumelele was started in 2000 by a kindergarten teacher named Rosi Mashale and is now home to 98 orphans, with ages ranging from newborns to teenagers. It aims to provide orphans in Khayelitsha, one of the most marginalised and poverty-stricken areas of South Africa, with a stable, loving and permanent home.

The home also has a significant number of HIV-positive children on an anti-retroviral treatment programme. It does not have any on-going financial sponsors, and relies solely on women from the community and volunteers to help them provide these children with a better future.

According to full-time student Kiran Chhapra, who heads up the fundraising part of the initiative, the plight of the Khayelitsha orphanage was brought to the attention of the students earlier this year thanks to Jenny Moore, one of their 2005 classmates.

"The GSB recommends that students get involved in community projects during their time at the school. Jenny brought Baphumelele to our attention and soon after we went on a visit to see what the home needed, and found that there was a lot we could do. We then divided ourselves into teams to tackle the first part of our contribution on April 30," said Chhapra.

Chhapra said the initial step was to do some fundraising and to ask companies for donations.

"We raised about R2 000 and received donations that could help us. We also did a food drive and collected items such as books, clothes and toys."

As the Saturday unfolded, the students set about getting Baphumelele into better shape for the coming winter. One team tackled the garden, another got stuck into the maintenance needs, like painting and building repairs, and a third group took charge of setting up activities for the children. At the end everyone got together for a braai and a well-deserved rest.

According to Chhapra, the first day's work at Baphumelele was a moving experience for all the students and the friends who pitched in.

"It really touched our hearts to spend time with the kids and to see how much they need our help. Just spending time there is a blessing for them - they were so happy to have us around. Sometimes we as human beings choose not to look outside our comfort zones. Many people give financially, but in some cases there is a great need for a human touch."

The MBA students will continue to aid Baphumelele during the rest of the year.

"The day we spent at the orphanage is just the beginning of our fundraising and outreach campaign - this was by no means a once-off thing," said Chhapra.

Chhapra said the MBA team aims to ensure that the Baphumelele initiative extends beyond the contribution of this year's class.

"There are a number of class activities that pass from one year's class to the next, such as sports challenges and recreational gatherings. But this can also be done with the community work of GSB students - we want to see next year's class pick up where we leave off and follow our lead." If you would like to donate to the Baphumelele initiative, please e-mail Kiran Chhapra at The MBA team is looking for any new or used clothing, toys, books, cleaning supplies and non-perishable food items. Monetary donations are also welcome.

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