By Constance Imasuen
Abuja – A South African, Rosie Mashale, popularly known as Mama Rosie and founder of Baphumelele Children’s Centre, has emerged winner of the 2019 Daily Trust African of the Year award.
Mr Mannir Dan-Ali, Editor in Chief of Daily Trust, disclosed this in a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday.
Dan-Ali said that Mama Rosie was announced as the winner by a seven-member award selection committee led by the former President of Botswana, Dr Festus Mogae.
He said that the announcement as the winner was made on Nov. 29, after rigorous selection meetings in Abuja.
Dan-Ali quoted Mogae as saying that Mama Rosie deserved the award for her continuous courage and dedication to save the lives of thousands of abandoned children affected by HIV and AIDS.
He congratulated her for emerging the winner of the prestigious Daily Trust African of the Year Award for 2019.
“Mama Rosie won the 2019 award for her continuous commitment to providing loving care to thousands of orphans mostly from Khayelitsha, a community largely afflicted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“The abandoned children are mostly as ‘children-no-one-wants’.
HIV and AIDS are endemic in South Africa, infecting and killing hundreds of people, leaving babies as orphans, many of them also infected.
“In 1989, when Mama Rosie moved to Khayelitsha, one of South Africa’s poorest townships, as a teacher there, she saw children scrounging for food in a garbage dump, and brought them into her home to feed them.
“This was the start of a remarkable programme that has been sustained since then.
“Founded in 2001, Baphumelele Children’s Home was a response to an alarming situation Mama Rosie is contending with,“ he said.
Dan-Ali said that she had no money when she decided to provide a home and place of safety to children who were orphaned, abandoned, abused, and neglected.
He said that she had a vision, a large heart, a lot of resolve, and the constant support of her community.
According to him, the children’s home now provides these orphans and vulnerable children with a stable, loving and permanent home.
“ It also serves as a place of safety for children in crisis 24/7 because so many of these children are sick. Baphumelele now includes a medical centre to treat HIV and/or other diseases.
“Mama Rosie has won several local and international awards for her unprecedented care for the orphans,“he said..
Responding to her selection, Mama Rosie expressed gratitude to the committee for selecting her for the award out of more than 400 nominations from across Africa.
She confirmed her personal attendance at the award presentation ceremony to be held on Jan. 15, 2020 in Abuja.
News Agency reports that the Daily Trust African of the Year Award Project was instituted in 2008 by Daily Trust, one of Nigeria’s leading independent newspapers.
This is in line with its commitment to African unity and sustainable development, to recognise and reward annually an exemplary African who has made extra-ordinary contributions to human development in any part of the continent.
Africans who have distinguished themselves in their various walks of life or do charity projects that are of positive impact to the continent’s people have since then been recognised for the award.
Denis Mukwege, a Congolese medical doctor, was the first African of the Year award winner in 2008.
Exactly 10 years after the Daily Trust recognition, Dr Mukwege won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018, for his wonderful work of treating women who had been abused and raped in his war-torn country.
The award winner is selected by a seven-member pan-African committee chaired by Dr Mogae with other members of the Advisory Board/Prize Committee as Prof. Sylvia Tamale (East Africa), and Amb. Ms. Mona Omar (North Africa).
The committee also has Mr Pascal Kambale (Central Africa), Ms. Gwen Lister (Southern Africa), Mr Amadou Mahtar Ba (West Africa) and Mr Kabiru Yusuf (West Africa).
The award comes with a cash prize of $10,000. The presentation of the award will be done on Jan. 15, 2020 at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja, Nigeria. (NAN)