Rustenburg is the capital of South Africa's North West Province, and the nation's fastest-growing city. It also houses the world's largest platinum mining industry, processing a massive 70% of the planet's platinum.
It is the city's status as an industrial hub which has led to such rapid and uncontrolled population expansion. The flow of people into Rustenburg has placed great pressure on the city's infrastructure and services.
A housing crisis like no other
Housing is in short supply in Rustenburg, and many people live in slums on the city's peripheries. Despite attempts by the local government to structure development, demand constantly outstrips housing stock. In 2012, it was found that 90,000 additional homes were needed needed to properly house the city's population.
Inhabitants of the city's slums have suffered badly as a result of official attempts to oust them. These efforts have included cutting off the electricity supply - a hugely unpopular initiative which itself led has led to protests and strikes. Because of long waiting lists for proper housing, migrants have no option but to settle in informal settlements and slums. To compound matters, many of those who come to the city have limited skills and cannot get the work they dream of, leaving them without the funds they need to finance decent housing for their families.
Children forced to grow up before their time
Crime is a big problem in South Africa. Rustenburg is particularly badly affected and is known colloquially as the “crime capital of the North West.” HIV prevalence is high too; with miners considered a high-risk group.
High HIV/AIDS rates leaves many children at risk of losing their parents. At the very least, their security is compromised by their parents' illness and consequent inability to work. What's more, many children are forced to drop out of school to care for sick relatives.
What we do
SOS Children works to give Rustenburg children back their childhood. We have been a constant presence there since 2006.
At the heart of our work is our Children's Village, where children who have no one else to looked after them can find a home with a loving SOS family. In this setting, they are cared for by an SOS mother and brought up alongside their SOS brothers and sisters.
They enjoy all the benefits of an SOS upbringing, including a quality education with children from the community, and full support from the time they come to the visit until they are ready to leave as adults.
Protecting a vulnerable community
SOS Children does a good deal of work in the Rustenburg community. Our SOS Social Centre performs a central role in our community work. Here, we provide children with decent healthcare, ensuring they are protected against disease and treating them when they fall ill.
Given the scale of the HIV/AIDS crisis in Rustenburg, we work hard to spread awareness of the disease as well as helping families manage - and, importantly, prevent - infection.
We also work to ensure children have access to quality education, paying school fees and providing equipment and uniforms where necessary.
SOS Children is doing marvellous things for families in Rustenburg. We help families achieve stability and produce success for the next generation.