Ennerdale, Johannesburg

Child sponsorship Ennerdale

Ennerdale is a deeply deprived suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa's largest city. Built during the apartheid era to house black people known at the time as “Cape Coloureds”, it was created as a new kind of township designed to give economic self-sufficiency to its inhabitants - while ensuring racial segregation persisted.

Years after apartheid ended, Ennerdale is still home to a predominantly black African population. The aim of economic independence has never been achieved, and incomes are typically low. 70% of households live in informal housing - meaning children who grow up here face huge disadvantages right from the outset.

Social, economic and cultural deprivation

Johannesburg has long been a divided city; both racially and in terms of economic advantage. During apartheid, financial security was starkly split along racial lines. Of the city's 11 districts, seven were home to a largely white population, and four to a black. While the white authorities achieved 90% independence from central administration, the black communities were only 10% self-sufficient.

Such figures speak for themselves. The tragedy is that many years after apartheid, these divisions still persist. Ennerdale is just one of a number of culturally, socially and economically deprived townships which house a chiefly black demographic. Ennerdale has no parks or arts centres. It is also lacking in foodstuffs from fresh and frozen items to dry goods such as flour, because inadequate roads make transportation difficult. It doesn't even have a reliable sanitation system.

Child at Ennerdale, South AfricaA chaotic upbringing amid terrible conditions

Children grow up amid squalor, deprivation and violence. Poverty is of course rife, along with all the problems which so often accompany it. Crime is high, joblessness common, and education is patchy at best.

From the very beginning of life, the odds are stacked against children from Ennerdale. Life expectancy is lower than average, with malnutrition and risk of disease a constant threat. Physical development is restricted by stunting, and many children suffer psychologically as well.

These terrible circumstances have a devastating impact on young lives. Through no fault of their own, many young people are sucked into the violence and crime that surrounds them, developing aggressive behaviour and often abusing drugs. 

As families collapse under the many pressures which weigh down on them, children also face social exclusion due to their background and lack of education and skills, and, for many, discrimination persists throughout life.

What is SOS Children doing to help?

SOS Children has been in Ennerdale since 1984. As ever, we care for children who no one else can care for. We give them a family and the love of an SOS mother, and ensure they get the education they need to achieve lifelong success.

SOS Nursery School Ennerdale South AfricaGetting families going again

Our community support helps families find their feet. Key support goes to struggling families to help check the cycle of generational poverty which so often takes hold in Ennerdale. We help with tuition fees so children can go to school, and pay for books, equipment and uniforms to help children fit in and flourish.

Medical support is targeted at those affected by HIV/AIDS, as well as raising awareness to aid prevention.

At the heart of our community work is our focus on leading families towards independence so they can stand alone with pride and dignity, and offer a loving home to the children in their care. That's why we help families start businesses and earn their way to a sustainable income.

We believe people in Ennerdale can achieve the lives they deserve. We work to give families back their lives and children back their childhoods.


Our Africa is a multimedia presentation of Africa videos made by children from our charity projects.