The small town of Tsumeb is situated in northern Namibia and has a population of approximately 16,000 people. The large deposits of copper, zinc and germanium, made this an important mining town in the past.
However, in 1998 the largest mine closed down and many people lost their jobs as a result. Nowadays, most people in Tsumeb earn a living from farming or working in the large cement factory. Additionally, the local population continues to grow as a steady stream of people come to work in the towns copper smelter.
Living conditions in the town remain difficult for the majority of the population. Few have access to modern amenities that people in European or North American countries take for granted. For example, even now the largest township in Tsumeb, Soweto, has only two communal toilet blocks.
Though the local government is working to provide more private toilets, it is unclear whether the sewage system can cope with the increased use. Equally, the growing population has meant a similar growth in illegal slums. People living in these areas have no means of gaining better accommodation and so are forced to live without even the most basic services, like electricity.
The precarious nature of many people's lives has led to an increase in violence, particularly towards women. Equally worrying, are the dangerous conditions that are created by the towns copper smelter, which in 2011 meant that no food could be grown within a 6km radius of the plant.
Added to these issues is the frequent flooding that affects the region, which has become increasingly regular in recent years. This is a hard environment for children to grow up in, many suffer from malnutrition, many more are unable to access education, and a worrying number face complete abandonment as their parents struggle to cope.
What are we doing to help in Tsumeb
We began our work here in 1997 with the goal of helping the most vulnerable children access the opportunities they deserve. Our goal continues to be ensuring that all children get the support they need to grow up healthy and happy.
A loving family provides everything a child needs to flourish, so we work to ensure that every child gets this chance. Our family strengthening programme helps local families to feed and clothe their children, as well as ensure that they attend school regularly.
Our SOS social centre also provides counselling and advice to parents who are struggling, particularly those affected by HIV/AIDS. Additionally, we run a feeding and scholarship programme at two local schools to make sure every child has the chance to learn.
Loving care for vulnerable children
When, for whatever reason, children in the region can no longer stay with their parents, they can find a loving home with an SOS family in our Children's Village. Here, their SOS Mother cares for them and they attend the SOS nursery and local schools, where they can make friends and integrate with the wider community.
When they reach the right age, young people who have grown up in SOS families are able to join the SOS youth programme. They are supported by trained counsellors and live in shared accommodation as they undertake further training or education and plan for their future.
From nursery up to adulthood, we care for children of all ages and until they are ready for independence. SOS Mothers provide nurturing care, and child sponsors help to give support to children in need. You can help children in Tsumeb by becoming a child sponsor today.