Why We Exist

The best way to explain why we exist is to share a story of a child who grew up under our care.

As a young boy, Siyanda’s parents were unable to provide for him. Their limited education and knowledge of English shut them out from stable employment, and Siyanda often found himself eating as much as he could at school in order to stay full through the night, since there was no guarantee of food at home.

When Siyanda was 9, he learned of a children’s home nearby, Emasithandane, which opened its doors to all children who were hungry or needed a place to stay due to various family circumstances. Siyanda quickly found himself coming to visit the children’s home on a daily basis to eat dinner, and during this time built a strong relationship with the granny who ran the home, Mama Maposela. “Mama” always spoke to the children about the importance of education in transforming their lives for the better. She would personally attend all parent-teacher meetings as representative for all of the children who stayed in her care.

With the love and encouragement of Mama Maposela, Siyanda was able to graduate from high school and set his sights on university. Interested in social work, he began a degree in the humanities while staying involved at Emasithandane, supporting the children who have come there after him. Today, Siyanda is finishing up his second degree in education, and has taken over the management of the children’s home which he used to call home. His experience has come full circle, and he hopes to pass on Mama’s spirit, who taught him that anything is possible through education, to all new children who enter through the doors of the home.

This story, in a nutshell, is why we do what we do. We believe that compassionate, committed people like Mama Maposela know best what the children in their communities need. Our role is to provide resources and training to help their vision come to life, as the community itself (and not CHOSA) remains at the center of the development process. We do this by providing unrestricted monthly grants, capacity-building services, networking opportunities, and volunteer support for after-school programming. We work with children’s homes like Emasithandane, as well as early childhood education centers and other education-focused, community-run projects. Learn more about: What We Do, Who We Serve, and What Sets Us Apart. (that last one should link to the “Why CHOSA?” page under Get Involved.)

Our Story

While the roots of CHOSA’s founding began a long time ago, a practical place to start would be the beginnings of the CIEE volunteer program at Baphumelele Children’s Home.

A group of Americans studying at UCT in 2004 began volunteering at Baphumelele. At the time, the home had only a few bedrooms where dozens of children slept together and an adjacent shack for a kitchen. As volunteers, we focused on helping in any way we could: changing diapers, cleaning, cooking, teaching the babies to crawl, etc.

We were disturbed at the poverty we saw and conditions under which the children were forced to live because of the lack of government support. We resolved to try to do something about it. Upon returning to the US, many volunteers began to fundraise informally for Baphumelele.

Led by co-founders Jared Sacks and Ellen Rosenberg, we assembled over time a core group of supporters and a board of directors [hyperlink]. Together we formed the Children of South Africa (CHOSA), whose purpose was to identify and support communities and community-based organizations (CBOs) that reach out and take care of orphans and other vulnerable children in South Africa.

However, we also resolved to work on ourselves as an organization in order to make sure our support had a significant long-term effect on the communities with whom we work. Through years of self-critique and reflection, we have emerged with a unique and compelling philosophy [hyperlink] which guides our work.

Our Values

The values below are central to how we operate, and make us stand out amongst the many NGOs doing international development work.

Efficiency – Because we have remained a small organization, and as a result of our collective structure, CHOSA is able to make decisions quickly and effectively without the bureaucracy or red-tape that plagues most nonprofits. Our shoe-string fundraising and administrative budgets ensure that most of our funds go directly to our partners in the form of grants or other programming support.

Unrestricted Funding – On principle, all CHOSA grants are given to our partners 100% unrestricted. We do this because we know that authentic and sustainable development is only possible when communities and local projects are able to plan and decide how best to use funds. We honor the reality that people are the experts of their own communities.

First-hand accountability – We have four staff members who work directly on the ground with our partners in South Africa to ensure they are accountable.

Equality – In our relations with one another and in our interaction with our partners, we strive to live our commitment to the immediate assertion of equality.

Transparency – CHOSA aims to be fully transparent in relation to donors, partners and the general public. If you want any CHOSA reports or documents, you are welcome to request them from us.

Learn more by reading our Code of Ethics [hyperlink]

Our People

Ntombozuko “Zukie” Mabuya
Cape Town Staff Member

I was born and bred in the Eastern Cape, and studied at Port Elizabeth Technikon. I married in 2001 and have two beautiful young girls. Since 2004, I have been living in the township of Crossroads.

I started working for CHOSA in 2009 till today. Working with communities and their children is the best thing that has ever happen to me. It teaches me about the growth of human beings and the developing of children’s minds. At the end of the day, we need to feed healthy minds and bodies within and amongst the communities we work with.

Adele Bruggeman
Cape Town Staff Member

Raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, I went on to study Sociology and Poverty Studies at the University of Notre Dame. During my time in undergrad, I was able to conduct research in Kampala, Uganda, and through study and experience became completely enamoured with the African continent. Upon graduation from Notre Dame, I moved to the Eastern Cape of South Africa where I was an auntie, homeschool teacher, and Kombie (mini-bus) driver to 57 kids.

I have since moved to Cape Town to complete my Masters in Social Policy and Management at the University of Cape Town. I was drawn to CHOSA due to its mission that aims to improve the lives of orphaned and vulnerable children through grassroots community organisations. I love being able to connect our partner organisations with necessary resources and capacity building to keep spreading the love, joy, and happiness to the children who call these organisations home.

Sinazo Peter
Cape Town Staff Member

I am vibrant, outgoing, flexible, and ambitious, with a passion for arts, filmmaking, leadership, health and early childhood development. I had the amazing opportunity of developing my professional career as junior admin for Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation and as a facilitator, translator and story editor at Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation. My experience there was very eye opening and empowering towards my development professionally. I have learned a lot and I’m eager to learn so much more. I am committed and full of energy. I have chosen to work for CHOSA because I believe in building a better South Africa. With passion and love we can do so much to better our communities.

Lolwetu Sibidla
Cape Town Staff Member

I was born and raised in the Eastern Cape in Centane. I studied Bcomm in Economics at University of Fort Hare and am currently studying Financial Management at False Bay College. I have worked with various international NGOs for the past 6 years.

I joined CHOSA because of the passion I have for working with disadvantaged communities, especially projects that are child-focused. Results in development take time but we take each step and learn from it.

Ellie Hunja
US Fundraising Coordinator and Board Member

I was born and raised in Southfield, MI, and was introduced to CHOSA as a volunteer at Emasithandane Children’s Home in 2009. At the time, I was studying sociology at Georgetown University, and later obtained a Master of Social Work from the University of Michigan. I have several years of work experience in South Africa: one year working with orphaned and vulnerable children in Mpumalanga, and two years running a mentoring program for young adults in Johannesburg.

I currently live in Los Angeles, CA, with my husband and two children. I have a deep passion for social justice which stems from my faith, and I love that my work with CHOSA allows me to remain connected to the South African communities I love, as well as fellow CHOSA supporters in the US.

Jonathan Lurie
Attorney Partner and Board Member

I am a South African expatriate living in Los Angeles, California. In 1976, I graduated from the University of Witwatersand in Johannesburg with a law degree. I left South Africa in 1985 and became a partner at the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP in 1999. I am currently a partner in Venable LLP’s Tax and Wealth Planning practice. I am also a board member of the Camp Max Straus Foundation and have a passion for supporting various different children’s organisations.

Ann Eveleth
Independent Researcher, Activist and CHOSA Board Member

Born in Detroit, Michigan, I studied African politics and journalism at the University of Michigan. After working for various African publications in London, I moved to South Africa in 1993 and covered the country’s transition from formal apartheid for The Associated Press and the Mail & Guardian. I left mainstream journalism to work for the National Land Committee and was founding member of the Landless People’s Movement.

I returned to the US in 2007 and joined CHOSA as Fundraising Coordinator in 2010. I am inspired by the organisation’s commitment to grassroots-led community work and unrestricted funding model which supports communities to define their own priorities. Leaving that post in 2011 to pursue my own writing and research work, I joined the CHOSA Board to continue supporting CHOSA’s bottom-up model of community development.

Dr. Jonathan Goldin
Radiologist at UCLA and Board Member

I am a Zimbawean who completed his medical training at the University of Cape Town. I am currently specialising in diagnostic radiology at UCLA medical school in Los Angeles.

Dr. Jennifer Goldin
Clinical Psychologist and Board Member

I am a South African expatriate working as a clinical psychologist in California. In 1978 I graduated from the University of Cape Town with an honors degree in community social work. I was involved with the communities of Valhalla Park, Elsies River and Heideveld. I left South Africa in 1991 for Los Angeles where I obtained a doctorate in Psychology.

Jared Sacks
Co-founder of CHOSA and Board Member

I was born in Johannesburg and grew up in Los Angeles. My volunteer experience at Baphumelele in 2004 led me to help found CHOSA with other volunteers.

Since 2007, I have been living in Cape Town working directly with communities supporting their efforts to take care of their children and often getting involved in other initiatives by the community. I believe strongly in the ability of people to collectively initiate and direct their own development rather than them relying on others for leadership and expertise. I have also acted as a freelance journalist and am currently pursuing my PhD at Columbia University.