rebuilding after loss

For the past couple of weeks my husband and I have been learning and volunteering at an orphanage in Kwazulu Natal in South Africa. 

Makaphutu Children's Village provides a home and hope to 50 children whose families are unable to care for them due to HIV and AIDS. 


Makaphutu is one of many orphanages in South Africa.

There are 3 million orphans in South Africa. Most are orphaned by AIDS. In Kwazulu Natal (the province with the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in South Africa) 60% of the adult Zulu population is HIV positive. Some children are cared for by family members (often the Gogos - grandmas), approximately 150 000 children are in home headed by 15 to 18 year olds. Some children are placed in "safe places" like Makaphutu. 

Home Now is a story of loss and grief and finding home again. That story is what happens here at Makaphutu. 

Home Now
author: Lesley Beake
illustrator: Karin Littlewood
published by: Giraffe Books (2007)
thoughtful reading for ages 5-8
printed in all 11 official languages of South  Africa

opening lines
Sieta lay in her bed looking up at the black plastic roof of her new home. "This isn't my real home," she thought. My real home is over the mountains. But this was home now. Everybody said so. 

Sieta remembers a happy home far away over the mountains, but now she is living with her Aunty in a place she calls Home Now. Her new home is a busy, friendly place, but Sieta can't seem to smile.
Then one day she meets an orphaned baby elephant at the elephant park, and she begins to see things in a different light. goodreads

why I love this book
The story is told in gentle, simple text. With compassion and hope. 

The illustrations capture the beauty of both the children and the land - that I am fortunate enough to be in the middle of right now. They capture the healing and hope that Sieta experiences. 
making connections
That healing and hope is what Makaphutu is all about. Each child who comes here has dealt with loss - sometimes incomprehensible loss. Some have suffered neglect and abuse. One third of the children are HIV positive. 

Here they learn to be kids again. That there are grown ups that will keep them safe, make sure that they have food, that they go to school and will keep them healthy. Some of them, literally, learn to smile again. 


At Makaphutu, the children live in "cottages" - 8 children and one "auntie" per cottage.  Each cottage is like a family, within the bigger family of all the children and staff. 

The big kids help take care of the littles, and the littles help take care of the wee ones. 


And they all delight in singing and dancing.  Hope has brought joy.  You can hear it.  


learn more about the AIDS crisis in Africa



  1. This is such a beautiful post. I am so glad that you are blogging about your experiences because I may never get to do those things, but at least I can start to feel how they've made you feel. Those children are lucky to know you too.


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  3. A beautiful post Sandi. I'm putting that book on my wish list:)

  4. Thanks Sandi. My very close friends are from South Africa and are in fact there for a month right now. They often tell me about stories like this and about the joy of the African people. I love the colours in the illustrations and will purchase this book for my friend. She will love it.
    Julie :-)
    Mrs Stowe's Kinder Cottage

  5. Such a lovely thing you are doing there. I'd like to know how you got involved?


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