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Winnie Mabaso Foundation marks two decades of transforming lives in South Africa

The Winnie Mabaso Foundation (WMF) celebrated its 20th anniversary on May 25, 2024, commemorating two decades of unwavering dedication to empowering orphans, vulnerable children, and their community in Ennerdale, Meriting and Finetown, south of Johannesburg. The festive day was marked by joyous dancing and heartfelt testimonies from children and elderly people who have benefited from the Foundation’s life-changing programs.

Winnie Mabaso Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by British Filmmaker, Lisa Ashton in honour and support of Mama Winnie Mabaso who was dedicated to empowering orphans, and vulnerable children in the community of Finetown.

“Mam’ Winnie’s love, charity, and legacy have been the driving force behind the Winnie Mabaso Foundation’s growth and success,” said Charity Pitso, a long-time serving member of staff. “Her memories continue to inspire us to do more and reach further in our mission to transform the lives of the children and the community,” she said. Charity shared that the organisation has not only been of benefit to the community but has allowed and enabled the young people who are part of the staff to grow, pursue their life purposes and explore their talents. “Looking at where I am today in comparison to the young lady who started working here years ago, I am personally proud of myself, she said. She is currently Supervisor of the Winnie Mabaso Foundation’s Pre School having been sent to school by the Foundation, qualifying in 2021 as a teacher.  She continues to studied for an advanced qualification having begun her career with the organisation as a kitchen assistant.

The preschool is one of the programmes and services provided by the organisation free of charge to residents of the Meriting community, an informal settlement in Finetown. Known as the Mabaso Tiny Tots, the school currently has 30 children registered between the ages of two to five years of age, who also joined the performance and showcased their talent in reciting poems. “I am grateful to the preschool because, without this programme, I would not afford to take my child to creche on our monthly income of a children’s grant. My little one has learnt many skills since joining the programme, she now gives thanks before a super, recites poems and recognises colours” said Mamokgele Louw one of the parents who attended the event.

As part of the activities of the day, the Winnie Mabaso Grannies Club and Mama Nabantwana graced the attendees with a choir performance as a way of celebrating the day. The Grannies Club is a pensioners programme aimed at encouraging pensioners to lead a healthy lifestyle, ensure they stay engaged in day-to-day activities and also provide support for any challenges they could be facing in their individual lives. While the Mama Nabantwana is a support group for young mothers and their children.

The young and youth programmes, Ilamula Home for Girls and S’bonelo Boys programme performed fun dance routines showcasing of some of South Africa’s trending dancing moves to entertain the hundreds of people who attended the event. “Ilamula is a CYCC (Children Youth Care Centre) for abused, abandoned, neglected and orphaned girls aged from 2-18.  The centre is fully registered with the Department of Social Development in Gauteng.  It receives no funding from the South African Government and relies totally on the kindness of donations. Ilamula is a place of safety, love and hope and our girls are quite simply the best. The recently launched S’bonelo initiative is an empowerment and mentoring programme for boys, creating a positive impact on their future. The programme is particularly focused on fighting Gender Base Violence within the community by empowering the “Men of the future” from a young age.

The Sew Amazing, sewing programme then concluded the programme for the day by showcasing their fashion pieces in a fashion show. The programme is currently led by a Fashion Designer, Varity Oliphant, who trains unemployed ladies in the community and shares sewing skills for them to start their enterprises.

The 20th-anniversary celebration was attended by representatives from the Foundation’s board members, and partners, including Shoprite ACT, Edelman Africa, and the University of Johannesburg.  “Seeing the children dance with joy and hearing their stories of transformation is a testament to the incredible work of the Winnie Mabaso Foundation,” said Lemohang Modise, who works for the Foundation. “Winnie would be so proud of how far the Foundation has come and the lives it continues to change.”

As the Winnie Mabaso Foundation looks ahead to the next 20 years, it remains committed to its mission of providing a safe, loving, and nurturing environment for orphans and vulnerable children. Through its various programs, including education, healthcare, and skills development, the Foundation continues to empower children and their communities to break the cycle of poverty and create a brighter future.

For more information about the Winnie Mabaso Foundation and how to get involved, please visit

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