Report in Plus News:

We are often asked about the services we support, and here is an article about Ekupholeni Mental Health Centre, published this week in Plus News

We have supported Ekupholeni now for over two years and this article highlights, very clearly, how difficult , the lives are for so many women and children, and why we have to help the women to help the children – Thokozile’s daughter was raped at 5 years old, and Thokozile herself talks about ‘the last time I was raped’ And yet they still have the resilience to want to make a difference. Many of ‘our’ volunteers have experiences like Thokozile.

SOUTH AFRICA: Thokozile Mdaki: "If you talk, you feel healed"


JOHANNESBURG, 10 June 2008

Thokozile , 43, has been going to Ekupholeni Mental Health Centre, a South African non-governmental organisation with a centre in Katorus, a Johannesburg township, since 1996. She relies on the counselling and support group meetings she attends there to deal, not only with being HIV-positive, but with the trauma of being raped and of multiple bereavements as a result of the disease.

“The last man that raped me told me, ‘I’m going to jail, but I’m leaving you with HIV’. It was true. That was in 1995, on my birthday. After the rape, I went to the doctor to be tested. When I came back for the results, they were in a sealed envelope. I opened it and saw those letters. I read in a magazine about HIV, but I didn’t understand the meaning. I went to the toilet, kneeled down and prayed.

A service userPhoto:
Kristy Siegfried

“After that I came to Ekupholeni [Mental Health Centre]. I wasn’t stressed about being HIV positive because I asked God to help me, but I was hating men. I was asking why I was born to be a victim of rape since I was a very young girl. I wanted revenge, I wanted to be a serial killer.

“I joined the bereavement support group because I lost my mother in 1996, then my father in 1998 and my brother in 2003. I wanted to remember those who died before there was treatment. It was still very silent at that time. [When someone died], they’d say it was TB [tuberculosis] or pneumonia.

“My brother died of AIDS. He didn’t disclose but I knew the symptoms. He died in my arms at Johannesburg Hospital. Treatment was too expensive then.

“When I go to the support group I feel healed cause I can share my pain: my childhood experiences, bad workplace experiences when my boss used to abuse me. If you talk, you feel healed.

“I still need the group because my son was born HIV-positive and my other child, my first-born, she’s a lesbian. She was raped when she was 5-years-old, that’s why I’ve got too much anger. I’m better now, but when I hear about rape on TV, I cry because I know the pain.

“Coming here helped me a lot, it’s where I have a home. Like after I was raped, I didn’t want to celebrate my birthday, but during the week of my birthday I’ll come here and talk with my counsellor.

“Many people die, not cause of the HIV, but cause of stress. You take the treatment then you go home and you have stress. If it was up to me, everyone would know his or her status, but people are ignorant and in the dark, that’s why they’re dying.”

This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.

Lesley Rudd
Chief Executive
the infant trust

Our project locations

Map of South Africa

We are not sending any more toys to South Africa. If you would like to donate then please contact the lovely people at:

We are proud and honoured that our work has been recognised by the UK Prime Minister, and that he has given Lesley his Point of Light award, stating
With the Infant Trust Lesley has empowered thousands of women across South Africa to protect and safeguard children in their communities. The education and training she has provided has helped to improve the lives of over 800,000 children, tackling the violence and abuse that affects too many of them in their early years. As we mark International Women’s Day this week I am delighted to recognise all that Lesley has done.”
You can find the full story at
Why are so many small children abused by male perpetrators in South Africa? Our researcher interviewed 27 perpetrators in prison in South Africa; all are in jail after being found guilty of some of the most terrible crimes against some of the most vulnerable children – some as young as a few days old. Those interviewed are all men aged between 16 years and 84 years old, and all have brutalised and raped at least one child. But the findings aren’t maybe what we might expect – it makes interesting reading.  We have been funding research into this for 5 years and it is finally finished and published .

Our flagship Caring for Crèches programme has reached into some of the poorest communities in five of the nine provinces in South Africa and we have crèche leaders everywhere clamouring for the training. We have now trained over 2,200 people and they in turn have already positively impacted on the lives of over 160,000 children … and will continue to help many hundreds more children for years to come