There was great excitement at Holy Cross Orphan, situated on the corner of De La Rey and Modderdam Road, yesterday as staff prepare for their centenary mass on Sunday at the Parow Catholic Church.
Originally located in Bellville, the orphanage was forced to move due to the Group Areas Act during apartheid.
Manager Edward Cyster says the orphanage is home to over 100 children.
“We have 110 beds at the moment, with 101 girls and boys ranging from age two to 18 years old. The spare beds we use for emergency placements,” he explains.
“Back then, the orphanage was established as many children were left orphaned after their parents died due to the Spanish flu and was initially solely run by nuns.”
Cyster says they face challenges but have programmes to help the laaities cope.
“Some of the children are just here because their families do not want them,” he says.
“We have a mentoring programme for the children to build them up and give them life skills.”
Kids in the same age groups are bunked together, and the younger ones’ rooms are colourfully decorated in their own artwork, with toys and books lying all over.
Fatima Daniels, 63, from Portlands in Mitchells Plain was seven years old when she was taken in at the orphanage.
“My mother did not want us so she gave us to my grandmother, but when social workers came, they said she was too old to look after us and took us,” she recalls.
“Myself and two sisters were placed in the orphanage when I was seven years old. I left the orphanage when I was 18 but I still go back. It is the only home I know,” Fatima says.
The pensioner says she would not be the person she is today without the guidance of the nuns at the orphanage.
“The nuns set the foundation and molded us. We had time for knitting, sewing, studying and play time but the love was in abundance,” she says with a smile.
“I come here and still feel the love. I’ll always try and give back as much as I can although I’ll never be able to do enough.
“If I look back on my life, I wouldn’t want it any other way.”