Swaziland experienced a severe economic crisis in 2011, resulting in almost total shut down of the country. In Nhlangano, families are still struggling and the town’s children are the most vulnerable group. HIV/AIDS is a serious threat to the population and nearly one quarter of people are now living with the disease.
SOS Children established a presence in Nhlangano in 2001 to support the community and particularly its children.
A population recovering from economic crisis
The town of Nhlangano is located approximately 128 kilometres from the capital of Mbabane, and is Swaziland’s fourth largest city with a population of close to 10,000 inhabitants.
Nhlangano is located in one of the country’s poorest areas and residents were severely affected by the economic crisis of 2011. Public facilities and services shut down completely, and thousands of workers did not receive wages. Schools and the local university were closed down, and fuel shortages threatened the supply of medicines to the Nhlangano hospital.
Many families are still recovering from financial losses and the loss of livelihood and most face daily hardship and food insecurity.
HIV/AIDS is a serious threat to the population
Conditions are dire for the majority of Swaziland’s population, with 60% living in poverty, a quarter living with HIV/AIDS and one of the world’s lowest life expectancies. HIV/AIDS affects many families, leaving children orphaned and often unable to continue their education as they leave school in order to support themselves and younger siblings.
Unemployment levels are high across the country, but particularly in Nhlangano. Young people are often unable to gain employment and many find themselves working in informal employment including selling food or merchandise in the streets.
Our work in Nhlangano
SOS Children began working in Nhlangano in 2001 with a social centre that provides children with access to education, health and nutrition services. Today, the SOS Social Centre provides food aid, scholarships, literacy classes and assists families in improving their living conditions.
Support for local families
The SOS family strengthening programme is one of the social centre’s most important projects. It aims to reach struggling families and give them the support they need to stay together as a stable family unit. Parents are offered guidance in parenting practices, income-generating skills and food production, as well as counselling services where needed. SOS Children continues to work closely with local organisations to improve support networks and services for vulnerable families in Nhlangano.
The SOS Medical Centre provides basic medical care and voluntary HIV testing, counselling and treatment to individuals affected by HIV/AIDS. The Swaziland AIDS Support Organisation runs regular educational and prevention campaigns from its office at the SOS Medical Centre. The centre sees up to 40 patients each day, many of whom would normally be unable to afford medical treatment.
SOS Children's Village Nhlangano
Ten SOS families give a stable and loving home for up to 100 children who are no longer able to live with their parents. In our Children's Village they grow up under the care of a dedicated SOS Mother. In Nhlangano, children attend the SOS Nursery with children from families living in the area, allowing them to form friendships and integrate with their community from an early age.
The SOS Youth Programme provides semi-independent, shared accommodation for older children once they are ready to leave the family home. As they transition to adulthood, qualified counsellors guide these young adults though higher education or vocational training.
We support fragile families and vulnerable children in Nhlangano, helping them to thrive and prosper. You can help children living in our Village by sponsoring a child today.