Nhamuave family & Vuka Village

Who was Ernesto?

Ernesto became known as the burning/flaming man after he was stabbed, severely beaten, hit on the head with a concrete block and then set alight by a violent mob while fleeing his rented shack in Ramaphosa informal settlement on Johannesburg’s East Rand in May 2008. The image of him burning alive in the street made world headlines and became synonymous with the xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

Ernesto, described as a peaceful and hardworking man, came to South Africa to try make a better living for his family, leaving behind his wife Hortencia and their three children in poverty-stricken Mozambique. Tragically, this was not to be – and his family was left without their father and husband.

How can Afrika Awake help?

Fulfil Ernesto’s ambition of ensuring his children get a good education

We hope to improve the Vuka Village primary school attended by Ernesto and Hortencia’s two younger children to benefit them and the whole community. This includes:

  • Improving water access and structures in an innovative, sustainable and environmentally sound way
  • Developing teachers and programmes.

We also explored the possibility of expanding the school to include a high school, as the nearest high school is 50km away. This would allow their eldest son and other high school learners to receive quality education in their home village.

Depending on the outcome, we will potentially seek sponsorship for all three children to enable them to attend a top school in the province when they reach high school age.

Teach Hortencia the art of weaving

We would like to teach Hortencia the art of weaving. We will ensure this is sustainable by:

  • Making sure she always has a supply of materials

Securing buyers who will commit to buying a certain number of pieces per month so that she is empowered to make a living for herself and children.

What will this cost?

Phase 1 cost about R46,000, which included a fact-finding mission to Vuka Village, as well as skills training.

Phase 2 involves implementing the project according to the conclusions and goals laid out on completion of phase 1. The estimated cost for the school is USD 30,000-35,000.

What progress has been made?

US-based CEO Marc Friedman from Build On, an NGO that has built over 700 primary schools in rural villages in Senegal, Malawi, Mali, Burkina Faso, Haiti, Nepal and Nicaragua offered to share the charity’s unique methodology with Afrika Awake. This will help to ensure the success of the project.

The estimated cost is USD 30,000-35,000 based on Build On’s average budget for a primary school consisting of three classrooms with a total size of 2,500 square feet. A small high school is still under discussion.

A new home was built for the family in Vuka Village in 2012 thanks to Gabriel Hertis, one of Afrika Awake’s founders, with the help of BMF students and members of MCB.



Please consider signing up for our newsletter. This will keep you posted on new causes, and updates from completed ones.