Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Rosie is a Goddess
This is Rosie. She is a goddess. She lives in a township,called Khayalitsha in Cape Town, South Africa. Khayalitsha is a legacy of the Group Areas Act passed by the white SA government in 1950. Khayalitsha itself was not established until after the abolition of the pass laws that required blacks to have permission to travel within the country. During that terrible time male laborers came to Johannesburg and Cape Town for work, and the townships were established to house them. Soweto, in Johannesburg, with 1.3 million residents is probably the most infamous of these slums. Khayalitscha is the largest one in Cape Town and home to roughly 500,000. With the end of the pass laws and apartheid women started coming to the townships and families grew up in them.
About 5 years ago Rosie decided to do something for the poorest of the poor kids in her township. She enlisted the help of friends and neighbors who brought her things like cereal and potatoes and she started a kitchen to help feed the kids. She's famous now. Everybody knows Rosie and the tiny room she calls Rosie's Diner. Every day she feeds 185 kids breakfast before they go to school and dinner when they come home. It's simple fare - porridge for breakfast and beans, potatoes or rice for dinner, but these kids who are AIDS orphans, abandoned or from poverty get the nutrition they need to carry on.
I met Rosie through Alan Petersen, a local guide who helps support Rosie's operation. Alan had us take a big sacks of potatoes and onions when we stopped by to see her. Alan has organized a group of independent guides to help Rosie keep things going. Rosie's reputation has spread and a couple of years ago Habitat for Humanity came and built a house for her. She, like many, is a single Mom and the house is really her dining room. Her old house burned down a few years ago and she is badly scarred from the fire, but she never stopped smiling and saying thank you the whole time we were with her.
She and her helpers cook in a tiny 6'x 6' kitchen off to the side of the house. It smelled great when we were there - onion and potatoes cooking in huge stainless pots. CNN has a project called CNN Heroes to celebrate selfless individuals who are making a difference in their communities. I'm going to do what I can to nominate Rosie in the next round of CNN Heroes. She truly deserves the title.