18/12/2017 10:36 SAST | Updated 18/12/2017 14:10 SAST

Cape Town's Mama Rosie – A CNN Hero!

Khayelitsha angel named in Top 10 of CNN's Heroes Of 2017 awards for her work with children in desperate need.


Rosie Mashale, affectionately known as "Mama Rosie" in Khayelitsha, flew the South African flag high as a nominee who made it into the Top 10 of the 11th annual CNN Heroes awards in New York on Sunday.

The international news network was honouring the work that Mama Rosie does in a Khayelitsha nonprofit organisation (NPO) called Baphumelele -- which means "we have progressed" –– that she founded 30 years ago.

The NPO takes care of more than 5,000 orphaned, abandoned or sick children in desperate need of loving homes. Some have lost their parents to Aids, while others are themselves HIV-positive. Baphumelele runs various programmes, including an educare centre, a children's home, respite care programmes and soup kitchens.

According to CNN, UNICEF estimates that there are 3.7-million orphans in South Africa. About half of them have lost one or both parents to AIDS.

In an interview with CNN, Rosie said that most of the children who are in her care are orphans, while others have simply been abandoned –– her organisation also takes in vulnerable children who have been abused. Apart from the prevalence of HIV/Aids, some suffer from other illnesses like tuberculosis and foetal alcohol syndrome.

South African votes put her in the Top 10, and Rosie said that she appreciated the recognition that CNN had given her and was grateful for all the exposure she has received since the nominations started.

In a speech delivered at the awards on Sunday, she thanked CNN, and reminded those watching how important it is to take care of those who do not have anybody.

"They always say it takes a village to raise a child. Please join us to raise more orphans," she said at the conclusion of her speech.

Amy Wright was named 2017 CNN Hero of the Year for her activism on behalf of disabled people.

All of the top 10 CNN Heroes for 2017 will receive a $10,000 cash award. Donations made to each of their designated nonprofit organizations are also being matched up to $50,000.