Maria Kloppers was a remarkable woman with a zealous passion for children, especially babies. The early 1900s in Johannesburg saw a baby boom with many children born to desperately poor, often unmarried, mothers. There was no place for such children in the restrictive society of the time. But Maria Kloppers was determined to provide a safe place for them.
In 1908, she opened a temporary home for unwanted babies in Melville. Later in 1916 she obtained a piece of land on the outskirts of Johannesburg (the area that was to become Observatory), where the children’s home stands to this day.
Despite extreme financial hardship, Maria Kloppers and her partner, teacher Johanna Malan, persevered. The flu epidemic of 1918 brought a new influx of orphaned children, many of whom died. Throughout these trying times, Maria Kloppers, known to the children as Mamma, taught her staff the value of tender loving care where no medication was available.
The Women’s Auxiliary Service of the Dutch Reformed Church became involved and eventually took full financial responsibility for the Home. Maria Kloppers remained actively in charge of the Home until her death in 1951.
In September 1981, the original building that provided dormitory-style accommodation were demolished after much debate to make way for four houses designed to each accommodate ten young children
In 1993 the Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church, of the then Southern Transvaal, approached Abraham Kriel Children’s Home to take over the responsibility for Maria Kloppers. The two homes amalgamated that same year.