*says “I have always longed to visit Nigeria”
A South African, Rosie Mashale, popularly known as Mama Rosie and founder of Baphumelele Children’s Centre, who emerged winner of the 2019 Daily Trust African of the Year award has arrived Nigeria.
She arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on Tuesday at about 11:52am onboard Ethiopian Airline flight number ETH911 operated with an Airbus A350-941.
However, it took her up until 1:30pm to get through immigration clearance, collect her luggage and access the car park where a second team of Daily Trust delegation were waiting to receive her.
The visibly excited Mama Rosie told our correspondent that it’s her first time in Nigeria and was grateful to the Daily Trust for the opportunity.
She also said she’s looking forward to knowing Nigeria more as she’s always longed to visit.
“This is my first time in Nigeria. I am excited to be here, definitely. I’m looking forward to see the country really. All along, I have been longing to come to Nigeria,” she said.
Recall Mama Mama Rosie was announced winner, the Daily Trust African of the Year Award, the most prestigious award by a newspaper in Africa, in November 2019.
The decision was done by celebral seven-member award selection committee led by the former President of Botswana, Festus Mogae.
She won the award based on her breathtaking humanitarian services that is seeing her save thousands of HIV-infected children who have been abandoned.
“Her continuous courage and dedication to save the lives of thousands of abandoned children affected by HIV and AIDS” earned her the award, the immediate-past Editor-in-Chief of Daily Trust, Mannir Dan-Ali had said in a statement.
The abandoned children are mostly known as ‘children-no-one-wants.’
HIV and AIDS are endemic in South Africa, infecting and killing hundreds of people, leaving babies as orphans, many of them also infected.
In 1989, when Mama Rosie moved to Khayelitsha, one of South Africa’s poorest townships, as a teacher there where she saw children scrounging for food in a garbage dump, and brought them into her home to feed them.
This was the start of a remarkable programme that has been sustained since then and has now fetch her an Iconic pan-African award.