Port Elizabeth is one of South Africa's largest cities. Part of the larger Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality, the city itself has a population close to one million people.
Like many of the country's urban centres, it is still reeling from the legacy of apartheid. Racial segregation persists, along with all the associated problems.
Segregation persists long after apartheid
Areas home to a mainly black population have suffered the worst. A host of problems affect such parts, from limited infrastructure and services, to overcrowding and poor housing; poverty and unemployment.
HIV/AIDS exacerbates the troubles faced by many families; making it hard to work, causing early death, and placing a burden on other family members - often children. Rising crime and the prevalence of drugs mean that many people are exposed to frequent violence and the threat of substance abuse.
Exploitation as children and discrimination in later life
HIV/AIDS means many parents cannot work. With unemployment high to start with, many families scrape a living already. When illness takes away their earning ability altogether, parents find themselves unable to support their children - and children often end up caring for their sick parents instead of attending school.
Children from impoverished families face many other risks as well. Child labour or sexual exploitation are constant risks, and a hard upbringing can have deep consequences for children; from long-term psychological damage to the discrimination entailed by lack of education.
How SOS Children is helping
We have been working in Port Elizabeth since 1989. We provide a loving home with an SOS family for children who have no one else to care for them. We offer a high-quality education from nursery to secondary level.
Helping the most vulnerable achieve independence
Today, we work across the city; focusing on particularly stricken areas, such as the Westville suburb. Westville is especially hard hit, lacking virtually any basic infrastructure.
Lack of roads, water and electricity means that children grow up isolated and at risk of illness and malnutrition. And with no schools or health services to speak of, the support we offer from our SOS Social Centre is crucial to the wellbeing of the community. We focus on bringing essential medical services – from treatment to prevention – to vulnerable families. We also help families pay school fees and buy uniforms and equipment for children.
We also help people affected by HIV/AIDS. With the right treatment, the disease is manageable, and by bringing this treatment to families in Port Elizabeth, we ensure children grow up in a better environment, go to school, and enjoy a proper childhood. We also run HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns to help reduce the spread of the disease.
Families in Ennerdale desperately need our support. Many have nothing. We bring stability to vulnerable families, and security to children with no one else.