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Mirriam Cele (1935 - )

The Order of the Baobab in

Mirriam Cele (1935 - ) Awarded for:
Dedicating her life to community-building and contributing to a sustainable solution to the major challenge of providing for orphaned children in South Africa.

Profile of Mirriam Cele

Mirriam Cele was born in Natal in 1935 and devoted her adult life to community-building and assisting others.

Cele initiated the unique Gozololo Project in KwaMashu, north of Durban, which seeks to provide homes in the community for abused, abandoned and AIDS orphans.

Rather than institutionalise orphans, Cele’s philosophy is to find homes for these children within families in their community, where they can be provided with everything a child deserves: a home, a family, love, education and a childhood.

Foster families are supported with food from Gozololo and counselling provided by Gozololo volunteers on a regular basis. In addition, Cele and her helpers offer day care; pre-school and after-school care for these children at various Gozololo sites.

Cele's work is legendary and she has been widely honoured. She is, among others, the recipient of the Paul Harris Award (by the Rotary Club), the eThekwini Mayor’s Awards in 1999, the 2004 Fair Lady Claims Eau Dynamisante Woman of the Year Award and the Martin Luther King Peace Award.

Through her efforts to inspire and motivate the community, Cele has made a real contribution to the lives of over 2 000 orphaned children and she has contributed to finding a sustainable solution to a major challenge we face as a nation.