'Ouma' gives dump children a fighting chance
For 40 young children living in squalid conditions less than 30km from one of South Africa's wealthiest suburbs, "Ouma" is their guardian angel, their difference between life and death.
Unable to fend for themselves, the Randfontein dump children, forgotten by many, rely on Anna "Ouma" Esterhuizen for everything, including life.
Their parents, many unemployed and HIV-positive, are desperate for their children to be given a fighting chance at survival.
"If Ouma does not come, our children will die. It is that easy. They will never survive the week," says Ursula Johnson.
Barely able to feed herself, Johnson, who supports her family by scavenging from the dump, is desperate for her children to escape the squalor.
"Ouma is their chance. She takes them and feeds them. She gives them what I can't. She makes sure that they have a fighting chance. She gives them hope."
The chance of survival is a 20km lift every morning to a creche, two meals a day and a clinic.
Another creche, closer to the landfill site by several kilometres, comes with a price.
Gangs of youths target youngsters walking to school, often with deadly consequences.
"I want to send my children to the closer creche, but it is too dangerous. Even walking to the nearby clinic means death.
"When Ouma found us, she answered our prayers. I know there is no hope for me, but there is hope for the children," she says, hugging her six-year-old son, Bafana.
For Elizabeth Ditsi, a grandmother of three, Ouma is their salvation.
"She is my babies' guardian angel. Just look at her. She loves them like they are her own. We never asked for her, but she came, again and again. She fetches our children and gives them hope. She is special. The difference between life and death."
For Ouma, a volunteer from the Toekomsrus Child Welfare, there is no option.
"It is not a lot, but it gives them hope. It shows them that someone cares, is there for them and prepared to help . To show them that they are not forgotten.
"When we started it was just a few children, but now we cannot keep up. By bringing their children to the 'bus stop' every day they show hope and are not prepared to give up.
"We ask them for contributions. Anything, but even if they cannot, we do not turn our backs on their children. Everything they have is from the dump. Food, clothing, everything. How do you bring a child up like this?
"More than 300 children live here and less than half go to school. About 85% of the adults are HIV-positive. There is nothing more that we can do except pray. Pray that somebody else can also bring them hope," she says .