Cape Town

Children from Cape Town, South AfricaAs the seat of its National Parliament, Cape Town is the legislative capital of South Africa and the chief city in the country's Western Cape province. A population of nearly 3.5 million also makes it the country's second-most populous city after the capital, Johannesburg.

An important economic hub, it is a popular destination for tourists and migrants alike. Every year, 5.5 million people from within South Africa visit the Western Cape, while 1.8 million international tourists come to the province.

40% of households living in poverty

Of this vast city's 900,000 households, a staggering 109,000 live in informal dwellings, many of which are located in townships on the city's edges. Nearly 40% of  households subsist on less than $200 per month, placing them below the national poverty line.

At least one basic need - such as an electricity supply, decent sanitation, clean water, or a rubbish collection - remains out of reach for more than 200,000 households. High crime is a chronic problem across South Africa, and particularly in Cape Town's townships, with children growing up here facing marginalisation and prejudice.

Joblessness, racial disparities and widespread HIV/AIDS

Joblessness is rising rapidly in Cape Town. In the two years from 2008 to 2010, it rose from just over a fifth of the population to more than a quarter. It is even higher amongst the young, at over 50%. With many children dropping out of school early, many lack the skills to get a job.

Across the nation, around one million children grow up without a literate parent. This leaves them without help with schoolwork, and many of these families simply do not see education as a priority.

The race disparity persists in South Africa even to this day. A key indicator of this - and an important factor in access to educational resources - is internet connectivity. While just over half of all white households have internet, as few as 3% of black households have a connection. Similarly, black children often attend schools where educational standards are low, making it hard for them to get on in later life.

HIV/AIDS is highly prevalent in the Western Cape. While only 11% of the country's population lives in the province, 25% of the South Africa's HIV/AIDS sufferers are found here. This has a huge impact on children whose parents are affected. Many lose parental care altogether, while for other families, parents are sick and in desperate need of support.

SOS Nursery School Cape Town South AfricaWhat is SOS Children doing?

We have been helping families in South Africa since 1994. In May 1996, we were honoured to welcome Nelson Mandela to our new Children's Village in Cape Town for the official opening ceremony.

At that event, he spoke as movingly as ever, speaking directly to the children of the Village: "I would like to tell every young person here today that I love them very much. You are the future of South Africa; the hope of our rainbow country."

Helping the community

Today, we offer family support from our SOS social centre, particularly targeting families affected by HIV/AIDS. Medical treatment gives families the retroviral treatment they need to cope with the disease, while awareness and prevention work helps reduce infection rates.

A loving home for children with no one else

For children who can no longer live with their families, we provide a loving home with an SOS family, plus ongoing support as they grow up. An SOS Nursery provides an outstanding introduction to education and group play, and they attend alongside children from vulnerable families in the community.

Later, when young people are ready to move away from the Village, they benefit from full support through our youth programme as they enter higher education or receive vocational training. SOS Children is there throughout to ensure young people enjoy a smooth transition to independence.

SOS Children is there for the whole community. We provide the very best upbringing to children with no one else, and work to help fragile families overcome adversity to provide a happy, healthy environment for the next generation.

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Did you know? In Africa, where often thousands of people share one doctor, SOS Children builds medical centres for the community to use.