In extension five, an RDP home has been extended. Here, dozens of abandoned babies and street children have a place to call home.
MAJACKY seems to really understand what Mother Teresa meant when she said: “At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat; I was naked and you clothed me, I was homeless and you took me in.’”
Jacqueline MakhubeleJacqueline Makhubele: caring for the homelessJacqueline Makhubele, affectionately known around Diepsloot as MaJacky, has been caring for and sheltering homeless children in the settlement for over a decade.
She arrived in Diepsloot in 1996, and was moved with compassion for the children who aimlessly wandered the streets – because they reminded her of her own youth. In an effort to help these lonely, homeless children, she spoke to leaders in Diepsloot about giving them shelter near her home in extension one. They gave her the go-ahead.
“It was not easy in the beginning because neighbours were laughing and talking about me behind my back,” she says. “I did not know what I was going to give them for food because I was poor and could barely afford myself.”
She would go from one neighbour to the next, begging for food and blankets. “People did not want me in their homes because they knew that I always came to ask for something.”
Since those early days, MaJacky has moved into an RDP house in extension five. Saint Mungo’s, an international shelter for the homeless, extended her home to accommodate all 38 children. There are now five bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, a shower, and boys’ and girls’ toilets.
Ceiling was donated by Outsurance, the insurance company.
Makhubele still depends on the kindness of others for baby food and formula, nappies, winter clothes and taking care of the electricity bill.
Five women help out by volunteering to do the children’s laundry, cook for them and bath the little ones. And she encourages young people to donate their time by helping the older children with homework, reading with and playing with them.
A group of youngsters from Diepsloot has been recruited to help her care for the children during school holidays and on weekends, which gives the five volunteers a break.
Helping Hand-Letsogo la Thuso, as the group is called, comes in the morning to help with feeding, changing nappies and playing with the kids.
ChildrenFeeling at homeOne of them, Levy Thobakgale, explains that they help at the house as a way of getting off the streets and keeping busy while waiting for job opportunities to come their way.
Among MaJacky’s troupe of children are abandoned babies she has found at mall entrances, in shebeens, in plastic bags and at hospitals. There have also been rare instances of young girls bringing their unwanted babies to her.
Makhubele explains that she will not be taking in any new children until they move to a new home. It is to be built on a piece of land close to the busy Diepsloot Mall.
At the moment, the land is bare, save for a heap of litter. Her dream is to turn the site into a home, complete with a hospice and a preschool. She is still looking for sponsors to make her dream a reality.
She takes in abandoned children because she does not want them to experience the pain of being homeless and growing up without somebody to love them, she says. It is a pain with which MaJacky is familiar – she grew up unloved and alone.
Initially, she lived her grandmother in Mpumalanga, but when her grandmother died, she became responsible for herself and younger sister. When her sister died, she became a street kid, giving her life over to alcohol, drugs and men.
Thankfully, the story of her life did not end there. Through a Good Samaritan, she was able to find a job at a supermarket and a shack in Diepsloot.
Making do in Diepsloot
A home for abandoned babies
Philosophy school cares
Funds for charities
Helping hand for orphans
Chefs unite to fight hunger