Mari Maurstad is a Norwegian actress known for her work on stage and screen. Although based in Norway, Zulufadder is always on her mind and in her heart. She visits the project regularly and is involved in all the important decision-making, assisted by a board of trustees.
Additionally, Mari continues to fund raise successfully by promoting the work of Zulufadder in her private and professional life.
Mari tells her story
This is the story of Zulufadder founder, Mari Maurstad and her chance encounter with Aurelia Mhlongo that changed her life forever.
“I can’t find the correct words. Intrigued, fascinated, amazed, excited, committed, involved. This is what happens when your life takes a turn you hadn’t planned for. You get a real “AHA” moment.
I thought I would experience South Africa as a tourist and fill my camera with pictures of the beach and animals. Then I met Aurelia, a retired nurse with a big heart, who made soup for 350 children along with a handful of local volunteers every Saturday. There and then I decided to do something, and I got tour operator Ragnhild Button involved. If Aurelia could do it with her NOK 350 a month pension, so could we.
In February 2005 we created Zulufadder, a private sponsor organisation, with my friends and acquaintances. In the beginning, Ragnhild travelled from Durban to Eshowe to take pictures and speak to the children. She wrote about their stories and sent the information to me, which I then shared with sponsors.
Today, Zulufadder has grown much, much bigger, with its own office in Eshowe. We have sponsors from around the world. It is absolutely fantastic!
If I hadn’t met Aurelia, I would never have known that the secret to happiness, is helping others. Through her, I finally understood the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi which teaches that, “it is by giving that we receive.”
The work that we do brings me joy, and I know that it will give immense pleasure to anyone who wants to change a child’s life for the better.
Love from Mari
Silvia has been involved with Zulufadder from the beginning. In August 2006 she travelled with Mari and two other volunteers to Eshowe to set up the project. She decided to remain and is currently the organisation’s Project Manager.
Her function is to oversee the day to day operations of Zulufadder as well as communications with sponsors, project implementation and new initiatives. Silvia ensures that all information relating to the children and families we support is updated and made available to sponsors, subject to applicable privacy laws. Silvia is also a board member of Gratton School.
Nick is a retired professional accountant and is married to Silvia. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Eshowe and is a former district governor of his Rotary district. Nick serves as General Manager of the Zulufadder Children’s Trust.
Through the Rotary Club of Eshowe, he has helped to raise money for Zulufadder, in partnership with Rotary clubs in many parts of the world. Together, they have built day centres, school toilets and provided vehicles, books, food and educational supplies for the Zulufadder children.
Chairman of the Board
Reverend Mandla Zulu is a son of the Mhlatuzana district, a rural area situated close to the Zulufadder headquarters in Eshowe.
Mandla has spent a lifetime in service to his community and, for many years, served as private secretary to several Anglican Bishops in Zululand.
Since 2005 Mandla has served as chairman of Zulufadder – South Africa and has made an impressive contribution to the success and development of the project.
With his compassionate approach and deep understanding of Zulu tradition and culture Mandla is an influential figure in the operations of the organisation.
The late Aurelia Mhlongo’s story
In November 1998, Aurelia Mhlongo, a retired nurse, established a vegetable seedling nursery in her home of Eshowe, Umlalazi Reserve.
“People supported my project by buying my seedlings. Frequently they sent children to buy them. Many of these children looked undernourished, miserable and untidy, with dirty clothes and no smiles on their faces. So, I attended to them.
As I grew to know them, and they became comfortable with me, they told me about going hungry for days, living alone in child-headed families or with their grandmothers. I reported my findings to the local Nkosi (Chief) Mrs. Lily Mpungose. I appealed to her to allow me to feed these kids soup once a month. She gave me permission to do so, on a Saturday at the local hall.
Eventually, I was joined by ladies from our local town who were members of the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Methodist churches. While I was working with them, we decided to feed weekly. This activity continued until December 2004. One day, Rev. Hiram from the Presbyterian church came with Mari Maurstad and some Norwegian tourists. They donated R400 and promised to come back to help me. I did not believe them, as I had heard it too many times before. I was wrong. In March 2005, her friend Rung Button from Durban came back to help me care for the poor children and their families.
Life for these children has changed tremendously. They are full of life, all smiles, well-fed and friendly. I bless these ladies who brought magic to the poor kids of Eshowe, South Africa.
Mari is a God-sent angel from the heavens. So is the community of Norway. They are helping to feed and provide care for almost 1000 children in Umlalazi, as well as kids in Simunye, Mandawe, Dinuzulu, Esiqwaqweni and Mhlatuzana.
Bless the donors, dear God.”