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5 September 2015
UWC accounting students visit Unakho Children’s Home

UWC accounting students bring cheer to Unakho Children’s Home

Accounting students in bright red hoodies from the University of the Western Cape (UWC) shoveled and tilled the soil in the sparsely planted vegetable patch of the Unakho Orphanage in Gugulethu on Saturday 5 September 2015.

After considering several options around adopting a charity, they chose the Unakho Children's Home (meaning God can) based on the orphanage’s basic needs.

“Healthy food was a priority, because some of the children are HIV positive and need to eat well,” said UWC SAICA Pilot Thuthuka Co-ordinator Charmaine Trueman.

Besides the hard labour including clearing weeds and shovelling, the students also managed to gather food and bags of clothing from their student and broader communities. Their efforts proved that setting their calculators aside for a day was all that was needed to assist with the basic needs of Unakho’s 27 children – and to put a smile on their faces.

Reverend Julius Bonani and his wife, Lulama, run the home in the same way a normal family would operate – they feel it’s important that the children experience what it’s like to grow up in a normal home. Unakho houses children from ages as young as one, and others who have been with the home since its inception 15 years ago, are 18 years and older.

When the orphanage started, Rev Bonani explained, the area was a no-go area infested with gangsterism.

“It started when a social worker brought a girl to our church that was under five years old. She was sexually assaulted, and she lost her mother shortly after the incident,” he said. “All the children who came after her had similar bad experiences – undernourished, neglected and abused; many of them on the brink of death. With one of these children my wife had to spend eight months in hospital to treat him for what looked like burn wounds to his nappy area. You won’t recognise the healthy and happy child he is today.”

Two of their daughters are helping them care for the children, and the orphanage survives only on the support of the community – and some help from a higher power.

“It was God’s idea. Mine was to set up a church and leave again – and today we have an established church and this orphanage.

The Gift of Giving

The students brought along toys to entertain the kids. And while some of the children tried out walking around the recreation hall on colourful toy buckets tied to ropes, others joined in singing  and dancing around in a circle.The dancing and laughter continued when a student started drumming on his djembe, and even the little ones couldn’t stop dancing or sneaking a chance to try their hand at drumming.

All the students involved in the outreach are recipients of bursaries from the UWC SAICA Pilot Thuthuka Bursary Programme, and it requires that students give back to the community.

To some it was initially just that: fulfilling their part of the contract. But some got a lot more out of the experience.

“My friend and I were here a couple of times before to assess their need, and it’s nice that the kids started recognising us – when they see us, they just want to play,” said student, Bheki Maphumula.  “It was so rewarding that I really want to do this again.”

“Being able to do something good, and to see their gratitude, was truly heartwarming, ” added fellow SAICA bursary holder Samkelo Ngema. “I am willing to give my time again and again, and I hope what we do inspires other students and South Africans, and even more so the ones we helped.”