Our featured women of CHOSA for women’s month are Evelyn and Noluyolo from Abaphumeleli Home of Safety (Abaph). Evelyn is the founder of the home, which was established in 2003, and Noluyolo is the daughter-in-law who manages the Abaph throughout the week.
Abaphumeleli is home to +/- 30 children at any given time throughout the year. Acting as a home for safety, this means that the children are placed here by a social worker when they need to be removed from their homes due to challenges arising in their home lives. Some of the children have called Abaph home for multiple years, and some children only stay for a few weeks, but all of the children come to find a sense of home at Abaph. This is primarily due to the loving care that they receive from Evelyn, Noluyolo, and their small team of caregivers who are always around to give hugs, provide homework help, play games, and cook supper for the kids. The children of Abaph range in age from infants to 18 years so you can imagine that Evelyn and Noluyolo no doubt constantly have their hands full.
Speaking with Evelyn and Noluyolo about Abaph, where it has come from and where it is going, I was so inspired for the love and compassion they have for each and every child that walks through the door of the home. In fact, Abaph started in Evelyn’s family home, which she opened up to children in need, and from this has expanded to being a property which includes both her family house, the house next door, and a new addition next to that, all providing a loving space for children to stay and feel safe. Evelyn and Noluyolo both embody such giving spirits, wanting the best for every child they encounter. What is amazing is that this care for others actually began with Evelyn’s parents, who adopted children off of the streets into their family, sharing everything from food and education to their last name. From her childhood onwards Evelyn has always regarded other members of her community to be a part of her family, and this was the inspiration for starting Abaph: creating a home for children where they could feel loved, supported, and build confidence in the potential they have for their futures, by making them all feel as if they are a part of her family.
In isiXhosa, Abaphumeleli means “to reach for the stars” and Evelyn and Noluyolo say that the reason this name was chosen was because they believe that every child who stays at Abaph should be able to touch the sky by rising up and being able to be what they want to be. Abaph gives them the nurturing and love that they need to be able to feel as if they are able to reach for the stars.
Thanks to the dedication of Evelyn and Noluyolo, children of the Khayelitsha community are able to continue their education and development without disruption when challenges erupt in their home lives. They both are active in the education of the children, being present for all parent/ teacher meetings, and providing necessary after school activities to support learning. Abaph is currently in the process of renovating a container to create an after school educational space for the children to do homework away from distractions. The continuous vision that Evelyn and Noluyolo have for the future of the organisation as well as the future of the children, regardless of if they reside at Abaph or not, is incredibly powerful. It is no longer enough to just give the children a warm bed and full tummy. They want to build Abaph into a home that children can return to beyond the time they reside there due to crisis. Also in the vision for Abaph’s future is an expansion on their property in order to create a space where the older children can stay, beyond the age of 18 in order to help support them as they transition into adulthood.