TWO children from a South African orphanage have found heaven on earth - playing football in Scotland.

Ebrahim Meyer, 13, and Themba Mabuza, 12, made the 6000 mile trip from the children's home where they live to join a week-long residential training camp run by Celtic Community Academy.

And the boys, who are among 100 children who live at the New Jerusalem Children's home in Johannesburg, are thrilled to visit Glasgow and play alongside some of Scotland's promising young footballers.

Many of the children in their home are orphans, others were abandoned by their families and some are affected by AIDS and the HIV virus.

Some were even dumped in rubbish bins.

Their once-in-a-lifetime chance to come to Scotland was made possible by British Airways cabin crew member Rita Iannuzzi.

She has dedicated herself to helping the children from the orphanage and persuaded Celtic to donate the two places on the Stirlingshire camp.

Rita said: "When we got off the bus at Buchanan Bus Station they said can we play football now?' They were even told off for playing with it in the street.

"They say it's completely different from where they are from. When we got to the hotel they just said what beautiful beds' - they are used to staying in dormitories. I took them to Buchanan Street and Royal Exchange Square before they left for the camp and they just loved it.

"Themba said to me he was coming to Glasgow to show the city who he was. And they are thrilled to be meeting kids from Scotland. They are just completely overwhelmed by how wonderful everything is.

"In Glasgow they really have found heaven on earth."

Rita says the youngsters, who have also now visited London and Manchester, had never before left South Africa.

They were waved off at Johannesburg airport by other children from the home, who performed a traditional send-off dance.

Representatives from the Johannesburg Celtic Supporters Club and the British High Commission were also there to say goodbye to the pair.

Themba was born in Pretoria and was abandoned by his mother when he was seven. His dad was unable to take care of him and he ended up in the children's home in 2006.

Ebrahim, from Midrand, has a younger sister, Jeanine, 10.

Their father died while they were very young and their mother spent a lot of time in hospital so after being fostered they were placed in the home.

Rita, 43, who was born in England but now lives in Italy, added: "I have brought two young boys here and they will be going back to the New Jerusalem as two young men.

"It gives me great pleasure to take two boys from nowhere and bring them somewhere.

"All we have found in Glasgow is generosity and welcome.

"Football is life for the boys and training with the keenest young Celtic players is a dream come true.

"Celtic have not only given me the chance to raise funds and awareness around the needs of these children in South Africa but to build up the momentum in the run up to the football World Cup in South Africa in 2010."

As reported in the Evening Times in February, Celtic have given Rita £1000 towards her target of £175,000 to help build a new residential unit and school - complete with a football pitch - at the home.

Celtic have also sent football shirts to the children.

British Airways paid for them to fly to Glasgow and the Park Inn in Port Dundas Place donated hotel rooms.

The New Jerusalem is one of the charities supported by British Airways Community Relations and the firm has donated £2000 to the cause.

Mary Barry, British Airways Community Investment Manager, said: "Rita has tremendous passion and energy and we are delighted to support her charitable work.

"The way she has brought together so many different people, companies and organisations to support her cause is incredible.

"Transforming the lives of hundreds of children doesn't come easily and her dedication is truly contagious. We are all very proud of her and the work she does."

A spokesman for Celtic said: "We are delighted to welcome Ebrahim and Themba to Celtic Football Club and hope they enjoy their time in Scotland.

"Celtic Football Club was established in 1888 to help people in need and we are delighted that 120 years after our formation, we remain committed to ensuring we can provide opportunities for those less fortunate.

"The Club carries out extensive charitable work and we will continue to do all we can to help. Ebrahim and Themba are most deserving of our support." The boys and Rita with other children from their home group Building work is carried out on a new unit for the New Jerusalem orphanage Rita takes the boys to see Glasgow's George Square Celtic football ground Evening Times building