– October 28 2019
Six years old and homeless
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 caring for the children alone 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. “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,” she told us.
Crime rates are high 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.
The family joined the SOS ‘Cities Family Program’ in Livingstone who helped them with food, healthcare and school-fees – and the SOS family strengthening team have found a safe new home for Judith and the children to live in. It is close to the school, so the children’s education will not be interrupted, and within walking distance of the local market where Judith can sell coal and sweet potatoes to support her family.
"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. "I'm very, very happy about the new house. 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, 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.