Lerato's Story

LERATO lives with her single mother, an older sister, a younger brother and eight additional children who her mom takes care of. They live in the shack pictured. She and her brother walk each day to school over 6 miles away, and then walk the same distance home. When she arrives home, Lerato must fetch water from a river 1½ miles away, and then carry the 6.6 gallons on her head for 1½ miles home. Once that is delivered, she must search for wood, chop it and bring it home in a huge pile on her head. The wood is used for food preparation and heating. Lerato will then need to attend to the washing of school clothes for her and her brother for the next day and help prepare a meal. At night she must do her homework in a crowded shack, by candlelight. Lerato’s situation is not unique.

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Support from Starfish ensures young girls like Lerato are provided with food, school uniforms, psycho-social support, career guidance, and an awareness of sexual and reproductive health issues and rights. They learn how to stay healthy in a world where HIV is rampant. Their families are supported, to lessen the burden on young women like Lerato who would have no chance to improve their lives were it not for YOUR contribution.


Mpilo’s Story

Mpilo and her little brother, Bongani, live with their ailing mother. Theirs is one of the poorest households in an indigent community, with a total income of $58.55 per month received from two Child Support government grants. There are no work opportunities in this remote village, so Mpilo’s Mom has sought the help of a local Starfish Program for her children, that helps them to receive good early childhood development, health, educational, nutritional and concrete material support in the form of food parcels and school uniforms. Mpilo has proved to be musically gifted and will soon write her Grade 6 music examination for the clarinet. What a wonderful achievement from a child living in a remote, impoverished and deprived community!

Starfish is proud of the partnerships we have formed with local community-based organizations. Together we help transform the lives of lost children. We value them, protect them and help them realize their full potential. This is what YOUR donation makes possible.


Zanele’s Story

6 year-old Zanele, would watch the village kids pass her home on their way to school as she minded her baby brother, who sat bare-bottomed on the swept dirt yard. She waved and smiled, and longed to join them, but knew in her heart this was an impossible dream. When her best friend asked why she didn’t attend school too, Zanele tried to put on a brave, grown-up face, saying “I have important things to do here at home. You know, a woman’s work is never done!”

A few days later, Mma Thabo from Starfish visited their home to encourage Zanele to attend school, but was told by Zanele’s Mother that she didn’t have money for fees, or for food, clothing and shoes.

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The following week a Starfish parcel was brought to the little family with everything Zanele needed to start her new journey of discovery. It was a beaming Zanele who joined her friends the next day as they headed off to school. A new life lay in front of her.

Starfish employs great-hearted champions like Mma Thabo, and supports impoverished little girls like Zanele. YOUR donation is the starting point of enriching lives and providing opportunities to young children who would otherwise be trapped in a cycle of abject poverty.

Child-headed Household

Lindiwe's Story

A school principal requested Starfish to check on Lindiwe, a bright, young student whose school attendance had inexplicably declined. A home visit revealed that this fourteen-year-old was shouldering the full responsibility of maintaining a household and caring for four younger siblings. The government Child-Support grant that this little family was entitled to was being collected by a distant aunt and not passed on. The Starfish team immediately started a process to make sure the grant was redirected to Lindiwe. Through regular home-visits and Starfish carer support, this young family is now back on track and Lindiwe is regularly attending school. She is an intelligent girl and doing academically well. Not only is Lindiwe now getting enough financial support to feed 5 children, but she can turn to compassionate Starfish helpers for advice and practical as well as emotional support. It is through YOUR donations to Starfish that these life-changing interventions in child-headed families are made possible.

comprehensive support

Paseka’s Story

Paseka often wondered why her family had been cursed. She never knew her father, but she remembers her mother cursing him as she lay on her deathbed. Paseka was only four years old when her mom died, leaving her and her two younger brothers to live with Gogo Mkulu, their great-grandmother. Things were really tough and often Paseka wished she could die too. That was until one life-changing morning, announced by a knock on the door. Gogo Mkulu is deaf, so Paseka opened the door to the kind and beaming face of Mma Thandi, a Starfish Greatheart.

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She greeted Gogo Mhulu with respect and explained that her organization helps take care of children who find themselves in difficult situations. Soon Paseka and her two brothers were attending school, getting two meals a day and were even helped with clothing. The government Child Support Grant of $87.82 a month for the three children was applied for and is now received. Paseka is doing well at school. Mma Thandi is like a mother to her. She checks on the family regularly, and makes sure Paseka and her brothers feel loved and valued. She arranged for them to be vaccinated, gets them to healthcare services when necessary and sees that they have food and warm clothing when winter arrives.

YOUR donations help these children directly. Thank you.


Luyanda’s Story

Luyanda (grade 2) and her little brother live with their sick mother in impoverished conditions. Luyanda recently received a certificate for Best Attendance at school. This is a real achievement for a young child who has to survive difficult home circumstances and find the motivation within herself to attend school each day.  Besides this, she was battling other turmoil.

When a Starfish carer first came to know Luyanda she was very withdrawn and shy. So the work of building a relationship with her and the family began. This was done through home visits, care, material support and by helping Mom access healthcare. Slowly, a relationship of trust was established and Luyanda finally revealed that she had been raped, twice. 

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The first perpetrator had been jailed, but the second was an uncle who sometimes gave financial assistance to the family, upon which they were desperately dependent. Funding from Starfish was used to help support the family and release them from the uncle’s exploitation. The case was reported to the Child Protection unit of the SA Police. Luyanda’s Mom has also reported the case to the tribal authorities. Luyanda is receiving counseling and compassionate support from Starfish staff as she goes through the process of emotional healing. She is proud of her Best Attendance award, which acknowledges her grit and determination.

Starfish freed this young child from entrapment and exploitation. This was only possible through YOUR support.