Windhoek, Namibia's capital, is often regarded as the cleanest and safest city in the whole of Africa. With a population of 380,000, it is the largest city in this relatively small country, and is also at the heart of economic, political and cultural life.
The country has made great strides forward in terms of wealth and quality of life. Even in the poorest area known as 'Katatura', which roughly translates to 'the place where we do not want to live', most inhabitants now have access to basic services, like electricity and running water. Some people have even started calling it 'Matatura', meaning 'the place where we want to live'.
Still a long way to go
Despite this progress the Windhoek still struggles with a number of deep-rooted social issues. Unemployment rates remain extremely high, with some estimates suggesting as much as 80% of the population are out of work. This has led to an increase in the levels of violent crime in the city, and pressure will only rise as new migrants struggle to find work and support their families.
Just as worrying, are the very high rates of HIV/AIDS in Namibia as a whole, some of the highest in the world. Though medication is becoming more widely available, the disease has already orphaned 76,000 children and remains the leading cause of death for people of all ages.
Inequality in Windhoek has a long history, and the apartheid that existed during South African rule continues to have an impact today. In fact, Katatura's existence is the result of the city's black population being driven out of the city's historical areas in the 1950s.
Today, Namibia is one of the most unequal countries in the world, with the wealthiest 10% claiming over 50% of national income and the bottoms 10% getting little more than 1%. In Windhoek, rich and poor live side by side, and this highlights the massive differences for children from different sides of the wealth divide.
How is SOS Children helping
We began our work in Windhoek in 1985, and ever since then we have focused on ensuring that even the most vulnerable children get the opportunities they deserve.
Through our SOS social centres we have been able to help families who are at risk of abandoning their children. The family strengthening programme helps provide for essential items, like food, clothes and shelter, and ensures that all children get the education they need.
We also provide counselling and support to parents who are struggling, which means that they are able to be there for their children even during difficult periods. We offer special support and care to help families affected by HIV/AIDS to cope with this particular challenge.
A home of their own
Children who are unable to stay with their biological parents can find a loving home with one of 12 SOS families at our SOS Children's Village Windhoek. Here, they are cared for by their SOS mother and attend the local SOS nursery and SOS school with up to 500 local children, which helps them to integrate and make friends.
When they feel ready, young people from SOS families can join the SOS youth programme whilst they undertake further training or education. They are given accommodation and are helped by our qualified counsellors as they start shouldering increased responsibility.
We care for fragile young lives in Windhoek, nurturing them into happy and healthy children. Will you sponsor a child in Namibia, and give them hope for the future?