Rosie Mashale, founder of Baphumelele Children’s Home, has been listed in the Top 10 category of the CNN Hero of the Year competition for the extraordinary work she does in the community of Khayelitsha.
Ms Mashele, known as Ma Rosie by her staff, is the only African contestant still in the running for the big prize.
Winners will be announced this month and Ms Mashale set off for New York on Wednesday December 13.
Ms Mashale, a former teacher, and her group of workers, care for orphaned, abandoned and sick children, many of whom have lost parents to HIV/ Aids-related illnesses.
Ms Mashale has had to overcome some tough challenges to achieve her dreams of keeping children safe.
Speaking to Vukani, Sentinel News’ sister publication, before she left on her trip to the United States of America,
Ms Mashale said she did not allow anything to stand in her way of caring for abandoned and orphaned children.
She said with God’s help, things have gone well. Today she is the perfect example of how hard work can achieve goals.
“Part of anybody’s journey is challenges. I take this as a reward from God. I would say, the biggest challenge was people trying to stop me from having this safe house. It has never been easy but when I look back, it was worth it. The children gave me the courage not to give up.
“They gave me the strength. There were really frustrating moments but here I am today, going to New York. It is so unbelievable,” she said.
Ms Mashele thanked her staff for their strength. She said they have been phenomenal during all the 28 years of Baphumelele’s existence.
“Obviously, there are sad moments when you can’t be on the same page with them but they are persistent and work hard. These people have made me who I am,” she said.
Talking about the award, she said she is depending on people to vote for her.
“Somebody put my name forward and I am grateful for that. We were thousands and thousands but now we are only 10. That is an achievement in itself. It is so unbelievable that I am part of that. But for me to lift the country’s flag on Sunday (December 17), I need people’s votes. I depend on your votes,” she said.
Bukhosi Mpalweni, human resources manager at Baphumelele, spoke highly of Ms Mashale.
He said Ma Rosie deserves every accolade awarded to her. He described her as a big-hearted and phenomenal woman. “She is results-driven. If she wants something, she wants it. She is full of ideas. It is an open secret that when she opened the place, it was not easy but look at how she succeeded. Nothing could stop her when it comes to children. She loves children. That is why she fought tooth and nail for this place to exist. As staff, we are happy for her,” he said.
The CNN Heroes are described as everyday people doing extraordinary things to change the world.
If Ms Mashale wins the R1.3 million top prize, she said she will pour it back into the home. You can vote for Ms Mashale up to 30 times by visiting www.edition.cnn.com/specials/cnn-heroes.