SOS Children established a presence in Mbabane in 2011 in response to an increasing number of children living in poverty and deprivation.
Food insecurity, unsanitary living conditions and HIV/AIDS are all serious threats to the wellbeing of the city’s children.
HIV/AIDS impact the lives of thousands
Mbabane is Swaziland’s capital, and its largest city with a population of 100,000 inhabitants. It sits on the Mbabane River and was originally named after Mbabane Kunene, a chief living in the area when British settlers arrived.
Mbabane’s inhabitants have a semi-traditional lifestyle and many live in informal settlements. These settlements have experienced rapid population growth and are ill-equipped to deal with an ever-increasing number of people. In spite of some efforts to improve settlements, thousands of families live in substandard housing without electricity, running water or sewage systems.
HIV/AIDS continues to be a serious social challenge for the people of Mbabane. Swaziland is one of the countries most severely affected and one in four inhabitants is HIV-positive. As a result of HIV/AIDS, many children are orphaned, or trying to support siblings as well as caring for ill parents. Households headed by orphaned children or elderly relatives are the most vulnerable. Families affected by HIV/AIDS are stigmatised and often live in severe poverty due to lack of opportunity for income generation.
Access to free education is under threat
Swaziland experienced an economic crisis in 2011, which caused fuel shortages, the closure of schools and universities and unpaid wages for thousands of workers. Many individuals and families are still recovering from the poverty and hardship that resulted from the crisis, and children are the most vulnerable of the groups affected.
Our work in Mbabane
SOS Children established a presence in Mbabane in 1989 to support vulnerable children in the city. The SOS family strengthening programme operates in the region, assisting struggling families, with the aim of keeping parents and their children together. Children living in a family unit are more likely to grow up in a safe and protected environment.
The SOS Social Centre in Mbabane provides essential services to children, including health, nutrition and education, and families have access to food assistance, literacy lessons, educational scholarships and support as they work to improve their standard of living. Parents are supported through SOS guidance on income-generating skills, parenting practices and counselling and psychological services are provided, particularly to those affected by HIV/AIDS.
Our SOS Medical Centre provides healthcare to adults and children. Voluntary testing for HIV is available, as well as counselling and free medication and treatment for those affected. Many patients who attend the clinic would not otherwise be able to afford treatment or medicine. The Swaziland Aids Support Organisation operates education and prevention campaigns from its office within the SOS medical centre.
Family homes for orphans
Thirteen SOS families provide loving homes for over 100 children who can no longer live with their parents. Children grow up along with their SOS brothers and sisters, under the care of a loving SOS Mother. Younger children begin their education at the SOS nursery along with children from the neighbourhood.
Older children are supported by the SOS Youth Programme when they are ready to move out of the family home. They live in shared, semi-independent accommodation under the guidance of a qualified counsellor, as they complete their education or vocational training.
Children who have lost parental care can start a new and vibrant life in our SOS Children's Village. Will you sponsor one if these children in Mbabane today, and secure them a happy future?