Grahamstown was founded as a military garrison by the British Colonial Army in 1812 and was the scene of bloody conflict between the British settlers who arrived in 1820 and the Xhosa people. The Battle of Grahamstown took place on 22 April 1822. This two-hundredth anniversary has been a time of introspection and dialogue amongst the people of Grahamstown.
Grahamstown grew into a thriving market town. Over the past two centuries it has grown into a well-respected legal and education centre. Rhodes University and six of the country’s oldest and finest schools are to be found in Grahamstown. The Good Shepherd School is the oldest school functioning its original building in South Africa.
Grahamstown is the seat of the Supreme Court of the Eastern Cape Province, and is the home of the National Arts Festival and the National Science Festival.
The township today Our sprawling township forms a stark contrast to the historic city of Grahamstown. The unemployment rate is set at between 75 per cent and 80 per cent of the population. Poverty is endemic. Children begging on the streets are a common occurrence. Youths hang around bars in the city at night. Drug abuse amongst these young people is rife.
Grahamstown has no major industries, this leads to the high rate of unemployment. The Makana Municipality faces many challenges. It has embarked on several Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) housing projects but the new houses have done nothing to alleviate the poverty of the families within them. Many dysfunctional families are dependent on child support grants and use the money inappropriately e.g for alcohol and drug abuse. They are reluctant to allow their grossly neglected children to be placed in care as they fear losing this money. Establishment of Eluxolweni In the early 1990s theological students from Grahamstown realised that children living on the streets needed a place to go to be fed. The students began to provide the children with a midday meal each Saturday at the Presbyterian Church. The children also received hot tea and sandwiches at the Cathedral on a Sunday night. The Masincedane Children’s Project was launched by these two churches with the assistance of the Grahamstown Child and Family Welfare Society.
The former train drivers’ rest house was purchased from Transnet. "The shelter" was run by a sub-committee of the Grahamstown Child Welfare Society, donations and assistance were received from the religious and business sectors as well as from various community service organizations in Grahamstown. In 1995 it became the Masincedane Children’s Shelter under the auspices of the Daily Bread Charitable Trust in East London. A pilot branch of the Amasango School was opened in two shipping containers in the grounds. In 2001 Eluxolweni Charitable Trust was launched and the shelter was renamed Eluxolweni – meaning a place of safety and forgiveness.
The Eluxolweni Shelter was re-registered as the Eluxolweni Child and Youth Care Centre by the Department of Social Development in April 2015.