Nine-year-old Thandi had been homeless for a third of his life.
For the past three years, he and his older brother and grandmother have slept on a straw mat, with only a mosquito net to protect them from the elements. When it rained the family sought shelter in a disused toilet – often being forced to stand through the night. They were frequently ill with pneumonia and diarrhoea.
71-year-old Judith has been the children’s sole guardian since her husband and five children died. She has done her best to support her family, but she could not afford enough food and they frequently went to sleep hungry.
Crime rates are high where the family lives in Livingstone in southwestern Zambia and Judith lived in constant fear for the children’s safety. The family desperately needed a secure home where the children would be safe from abuse at night.
"When I met Chipo from SOS Children's Villages she asked where my house was. I told her that I had no house,” Judith recalls.
“Often I had to beg on the street and the little I managed to earn by selling coal at the market went to pay for food and tuition for the children.”
SOS Children’s Villages enrolled the family in their Cities Family Program in Livingstone where they could access food and healthcare and receive help with school-fees – and they have found a safe new home for Judith and the children to live in.
Their new home is close to the school, so the children’s education will not be interrupted, and it is within walking distance of the local market where Judith can sell coal and sweet potatoes to support her family.
"I'm very, very happy about the new house,” Judith tells us excitedly. “I used to pray to God that he would take care of us since all those who could take care of us were dead. Now we have received support from SOS Children's Villages, and that means everything.”
Homelessness amongst children is a growing problem in Zambia, where the government admits more than 13,000 children are living on the streets without parental care. SOS Children’s Villages supports 2,000 children and their families in Livingstone, where frequent droughts, high rates of HIV and AIDS and poor access to education and healthcare have left thousands of families facing extreme hardship.
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