Shining the light on four South African women who strive to make a difference in the lives of children.
The aim of Cipla Foundation has been to improve the lives of South Africans since its inception. Working with devoted individuals has always been integral to making the Foundation’s goal of enhancing the quality of life for all a reality.
“This year, Cipla Foundation would like to shine the spotlight on four women in particular, whose strength has changed the lives of many children in need. The success of the Cipla Foundation is built on the conviction women like them have for their calling,” says Cipla Marketing Director, Rynard van der Westhuizen.
Martha Makhura, Crèche Operator at the Europe Early Childhood Development Centre in Gugulethu
Respected figurehead in her community, Martha Makhura began working as a volunteer in 1986, with the opening of her own pre-school for children in need.
Today Martha operates the Europe Early Childhood Development Centre in Gugulethu, Cape Town, which looks after 160 children in need, ranging from 18 months to six years. The facility is staffed by seven carers, a cook, a cleaner and a caretaker from the community.
In her community, Martha is seen as a mother to the carers working under her. The children in her care have also come to regard her as a grandmother and Martha has said that she misses each of them over the weekends.
“The work that we do here is essential for the children who pass through our doors. The first 1 000 days of a child’s life are the most important. Ensuring that we take care of their education, health and nutrition in these early days, gives them the stepping stone that they need to live better quality lives,” says Martha Makhura.
Tamlin Abrahams, Operation Smile Regional Director for the Southern, Central and West Africa
Operation Smile is dedicated to providing safe surgery for children born with cleft palate, regardless of their location or economic background.
Since joining Operation Smile South Africa over a decade ago, Tamlin has spent her career gaining an in-depth knowledge and becoming involved in every part of the organisation.
“Joining Operation Smile on one of the medical missions changed my life in ways I had never imagined possible. Standing in a room full of strangers, medical volunteers from around the world and hundreds of families waiting for the smallest chance at this life-changing surgery, the true essence of unconditional love comes alive,” Tamlin Abrahams recounts.
“Back then I was a young student, barely 20 years old. Now I am a mother of three of my own children, and I continue to stand in awe of the families we serve, their never ending belief and hope to create a brighter future for their children.”
“Every day we take on the challenges of helping some of the most remote communities around the world, and the driving force remains a simple question: what if this was your child?” she adds.
Today her colleagues will attest to the fact that she continues to inspire and lead the team with her never-say-no attitude.
Maria Molotsi, Principle of Ramadimetja Sophia Mogotlane Early Development Centre in Mookgophong
The need for adequate facilities is a daily challenge for many Early Childhood Development Centres and in South Africa, around 10% of these centres operate from shacks. Maria’s facility fell into this category, operating from a small shack with minimal, resources or space for carers to work.
A little over a year ago, the state of the art Ramadimetja Sophia Mogotlane Centre was deployed, giving Maria and her teachers much-needed space, and more importantly, the ability to provide better care and nutrition to the 105 children under their care.
The Centre now provides basic education, as well as a structured food menu providing the children with their daily nutrition.
“The Centre has made a big impact on our children from where we were last year and the community loves it. We will continue striving for more centres to be deployed in this area. There are so many children that have to stay at home while their parents work,” Maria Molotsi says.
Miriam Dlamini, Principal at the Hiayisane Early Childhood Development Centre in Bhuga
In the community of Bhuga, in the region of Kabokweni, Mbombela, there are currently around 40 000 people with a 95% unemployment rate and above-the-national-average incidents teen pregnancies and HIV.
Miriam and her teachers have taken on the task of looking after the children of teenage parents, who don’t have any formal employment or source of income. Miriam has an intense love for the 137 children in her care, and she will be the first to say that helping the children in Bhuga has been the source of great joy and pride for her.
“It is important for women to remember that they were created to be helpers in the specific positions wherever they are. To be a strong woman means to remain connected to the original position, drawing wisdom and instruction from the creator, and having the ability to persist,” says Miriam Dlamini.
“The Cipla Foundation looks forward to many more years of cooperation with these and other highly exceptional individuals who share the same drive to make a change in this world,” Van der Westhuizen concludes.