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A Finetown orphanage was given a makeover by a group of British volunteers, who also took the children to the Lion Park for the day.
THE Winnie Mabaso Orphanage, in the impoverished township of Finetown, has been transformed with more than just a can of paint. It has been given a comprehensive makeover by a dedicated team from the United Kingdom, helped by some local volunteers.


Bedrooms have a new, spruced-up lookBedrooms have a new, spruced-up lookTheir trip to Johannesburg was about more than giving the home a new lease of life, however; the 125 children from the orphanage and the surrounding areas were also treated to a visit to the Lion Park in Lanseria.

Situated at 1865 Phillip Street in Finetown, in the south of Joburg, the orphanage has become a safe haven for children in need. It provides them with basic essentials such as food and shelter and gives them the opportunity to go to school.

It is assisted by the Winnie Mabaso Foundation, which was set up by Lisa Ashton, a British documentary film-maker, following a filming trip to South Africa in 2004.

Changes to the orphanage’s three bedrooms and two bathrooms included repairs and renovations, ranging from painting the exterior of the house to fixing broken windows and window panes.

The front door was sanded and re-painted; the girls’ and boys’ rooms were decorated; cupboards were built in the rooms; a mirror was mounted for the girls; a new washing machine was installed; and two other rooms were completely gutted.

Once used as storage space, they will now be used as office space and a bedroom for the newly appointed orphanage manager.

Reflecting on her team’s trip to the city, Ashton said even though it rained most of the time, she and her team achieved more than they had hoped.

“It was rain, rain and more rain that greeted Team Mabaso when we arrived in South Africa to complete much-needed repairs and renovations at the Winnie Mabaso Orphanage … However, even the weather couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the team … as we battled against the elements and managed to achieve over and above what we had planned,” she said.

The team consisted of Brian Mitchell, Rae Leeson, Ian Bennett and Ashton. Ashton raises funds for the foundation in the United Kingdom. She lives in the northern city of Manchester, where she is a producer and director for the BBC, the British national broadcaster.

Lion Park
It was not all work on their trip, though. The team also took the children to the Lion Park along Joburg’s northwestern border, for the day.


Enjoying a day out at the Lion ParkEnjoying a day out at the Lion Park“For many children this may seem like any other family day out, but for the 125 children from Finetown, some of whom have never left their township, the day was an enormous adventure,” said Ashton.

As the two buses pulled up outside the orphanage’s gates, the children cheered and shouted with delight.

Once at the reserve, they were taken on a safari drive and saw cheetah, zebra, lion, ostrich, giraffe and meercat. They also got to stroke a lion cub in the cub world enclosure and fed the giraffes.

Chuffed with their outing, the children ended their visit with a picnic filled with food and celebrated it by playing soccer and bonding through dance.

As the buses returned to Finetown, they were filled with tired children who said they would never forget the trip as long as they lived.

The trip was organised by the Winnie Mabaso Foundation with Vodacom, which provided the buses, and the Lion Park, which gave the group free entrance.

Team Mabaso plans to return to Johannesburg in October. For more information about the orphanage and the work that has been done there, visit the home’s website.

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