Imagine having thousands of children calling you “mum” and demanding your love, attention, care and advice. That is everyday life for Carol Dyanti, known affectionately as Mama Carol to more than 1,700 orphans in Soweto. Mama Carol, of Ikageng Itireleng AIDS Ministry, oversees the care of these children in over 225 homes throughout Soweto. All of these children live in child-headed households, and have seen firsthand the true devastation of AIDS. Ikageng provides mentoring, life skills, and counseling to help children in these child-headed households grow into well-developed adults who can contribute to their communities. Siblings continue to live together in their homes, creating strong sibling solidarity and promoting the family unit and structure. Through the provision of basic needs such as food, clothing, transportation, water, electricity, school fees, healthcare and transport, Ikageng relieves some of the pressure and despair faced by these young children, who, having lost their parents, must take on adult roles.

Mama Carol, who was a nurse before she became a mother to hundreds, began noticing the children in her community were mostly orphans. As she started taking care of them, the head nurse where she worked told her she must make a choice between her job and her community service- for Carol, this was not a choice at all. She had to continue helping these children. And she certainly has. As CEO and founder of Ikageng Itireleng AIDS Ministry, Mama Carol has no simple job description. She does whatever needs to be done to help her children. As a former activist who helped to end Apartheid, she knows that all it takes for change is one person. Mama Carol is that one person, and she inspires change in all who hear her story.

Learn more about Mama Carol and Ikageng Itireleng at

Information gathered from the Ikageng Itireleng and the Keep a Child Alive websites.