Zulufadder - a child sponsor organization founded by Norwegian actress

Zulufadder is a charity organization helping vulnerable children and youth in South Africa.

The adventure started when well-known Norwegian personality, Mari Maurstad, was on safari in South Africa in December 2004.

Here she met Toby Selander, a Swedish photo journalist, and Ragnhild (Rung) Button, honorary Norwegian consul and owner of a travel agency in Durban. En route from Durban Rung asked them if they would like to take a brief detour to experience the rural life of South Africa. This was a visit to a soup kitchen just outside Eshowe, in Zululand, where the group met a local woman, Aurelia Mhlongo, who was using her own private resources to feed many orphans of HIV and AIDS infected parents.

The meeting made a huge impression on Mari and soon Zulufadder became a fact.

Aurelia’s story is unique in itself and you can read about it here. Read Aurelia's story.

Zulufadder wants to help as many children as it can in the rural areas around Eshowe, a district of Zululand, which has a high incidence of HIV and AIDS. HIV is the infection that causes AIDS and this has resulted in thousands of children being orphaned at an early age. Some of the children are also infected and have to receive treatment and, generally, they are obliged to live with grandparents, great grandparents other family members or friends. It is not unusual for several children to live with their carer in one basic mud brick cottage. They can, usually, not afford food, clothing and medical care and sometimes cannot attend school for lack of clothing and books.

From small beginnings Zulufadder now serves six rural communities and employs qualified local people in each area to act as field workers. These dedicated workers personally identify and follow-up all the children and regularly update Zulufadder on the conditions in schools and homes.

Zulufadder has 35 local staff, who all love their work, and the fact that we are so strongly rooted in local communities, makes our work much easier. We enjoy excellent communication with local Chiefs (Inkosi’s) and sub-Chiefs (Induna’s), hospital and clinic staff and other role players.

It is important to note that Zulufadder is not running orphanages. Our focus is to support the children, and those who care for them, in their own homes. Family life is volatile in Zululand where people are constantly moving in and out, dying and being born so we have nine field workers whose sole job is to visit the homes regularly, check on the children and record their needs.

Despite this Zulufadder does have a need for a small family unit where children who have no support whatsoever can be housed and protected until suitable homes can be found. We are busy raising funds for this project and hope that our ‘halfway house’ can soon become a reality.

How does Zulufadder actually work?

Zulufadder is a Norwegian word meaning ‘Zulu godparent’.  Of course, many of our sponsors are from Norway but, over the years the fame of the organization has spread such that we are starting to receive sponsorship from other countries.  For a small monthly fee each ‘Fadder’ is allocated their own child who they are able to interact with and follow closely. The monthly fee goes to pay for food security, school uniforms and shoes, and any other needs that the child may have from time to time. Food parcels are handed out to the child and their family once a month.

Mari writes personal newsletters to all sponsors from time to time in addition to updating the Facebook page and website.

In South Africa the Zulufadder project is run by Silvia Hellesvik who has moved to Eshowe and works as the project manager. With eagle eyes Silvia keeps track of what needs to be prioritized and how we can help as many children as possible in the most efficient manner.

Mari, Rung and Silvia are in contact daily and Zulufadder enjoys a close relationship with the Rotary Club of Eshowe whose members have assisted us in many ways.

Zulufadder is registered as a charity both in Norway and South Africa in order to conform to the laws of both countries.

We believe that the great strength of Zulufadder is that our operating costs are kept to a minimum so that the bulk of our money goes to where it is needed most – supporting your ‘Fadder’ children.

Please help us to share our resources and knowledge so that our children can have a better future.

Support our work now


Share this

Suggest this article to a friend