Orphanage in East London survives on handouts

Nonkululeko Maneli with some of the children from the centre. Photo by Chris Gilili

For twenty six years Nonkululeko Maneli has dedicated her life to taking care of orphans. She started running the Ekuphumleni Masincedane Centre from a shack in Duncan Village in 1991, sustaining her project with handouts.

Duncan Village, East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa

For twenty six years Nonkululeko Maneli has dedicated her life to taking care of orphans. She started running the Ekuphumleni Masincedane Centre from a shack in Duncan Village in 1991, sustaining her project with handouts.

“In all that I do I am guided by God. I saw the need within the area where I lived, that children were ignored. I visited homes, jails and hospitals just to check children’s conditions. I was taken away by children who were left with no one because maybe their mother had been arrested or because their parent was sick. It’s then that I decided to take the children in and look after them. I started by visiting their homes, helping where I could as well as create a bond with the children first, and make an agreement with their parents and social development to fully take care of the children,” said Maneli.

“At the shack I started by looking after 4 children who’s parents were sick, living with HIV. All of them went back home to the former Transkei and left the children under my care. I do all of this because of my faith, I pray for everything. Sometimes prayer guides me on where to go and take a child in need. Some of the children I have raised have gone on to graduate at university level, some live for themselves now. Fortunately not a single child has died under my care. By coincidence, I happen to take care of mostly HIV-positive children.”

The 59-year-old  told Elitsha that she receives help from local churches and community members who are willing to help every now and then.  Not all of the sixteen children she currently takes care receive social grants.

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“Some of the children here have no birth certificates. Some are from broken marriages and we can’t locate both parents. There is also a 1-year-old who was discovered by the police in a dustbin and they brought her here. I am grateful to Dr Lwandile Xaba, who helps every now and then with some of the things we need,” explained Maneli.

“I keep the children at least up to 21 years, and thereafter I release them to take the route they would like to. Between 1991 and 2000 I took care of 40 children. My only worry now is that the Christmas season is approaching and they will need clothes and food. I hope a good Samaritan will come forward and rescue us”

We spoke to Xolelwa Maneli, Nonkululeko’s daughter, who said that they are grateful for the little help they get but they need more. “One of the things we lack the most is beds. We can’t accommodate all the children with the beds we have. Even today there was  a foundation from China, which was brought by Mr Xaba; they gave us three beds. Windows were also damaged by rain recently; we would appreciate if we can be helped in that regard,” she said.

“Sometimes I get odd jobs and help with buying whatever I can to assist my mother. Children are also something I am passionate about.”

Maneli told us that around 2008 the Department of Social Development threatened to close down the centre, mainly because they felt there was not enough space to accommodate the children. However, the place was renovated from a four-roomed house and three more rooms were added to create more space for children.

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Eastern Cape Department of Social Development’s Mzukisi Solani, highlighted that the department has noted the plight of neglected children. “We are grateful to people like Nonkululeko and as we will be underway with our 16 Days of Activism against Children Abuse, we will make sure that we visit places like Ekuphumleni and see where we can assist more and with what,” he said.

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About Chris Gilili 27 Articles
Chris Gilili, a 23 year old freelance journalist based in East London. Graduated from Walter Sisulu University media studies school in 2015. Had a stint with Independent Media, in sports writing. Passionate about news and the media.