Ntombi* wakes up every morning with one thing on her mind: food. A 15-year-old mother of one and caregiver to two more siblings, Ntombi works every day to scrape together enough money to survive. Through a combination of infrequent gifts from relatives and winnings from gambling at a local bar with other desperate mothers in her neighborhood, she has been hanging on.
“We are trying,” she said during a recent home visit by social workers from HOPE worldwide South Africa, “but one of our challenges is that I don’t have enough for food. We only eat pap (a local processed grain) and chicken feet. We are really struggling. I don’t know what I’m even going to eat tonight.” She went on to share that after a lucky streak at a card game that day, she had increased her current cash holdings from 3 rand to 4 rand (about 40 cents USD). However, as a young mother of a yet-to-be toilet trained two-year-old, she was going to use the money to buy diapers instead of food for her young child and siblings. HOPE worldwide SA has provided her some initial support which has allowed her to buy groceries.
Ntombi, whose mother passed away a year ago, is doing what she can to help her family survive—and she isn’t the only young orphan with this huge responsibility at such a young age. In a country heavily impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, with over 5.7 million people currently infected, parents are dying and leaving behind orphaned children. According to a recent UNICEF report, there are an estimated 3.7 million orphans in South Africa, about half of whom have lost a parent to AIDS. And, about 150,0000 children are believed to be living in child-headed households like Ntombi’s. That’s enough people to fill South Africa’s largest football stadium, Soccer City, over one a half times.
Communities are doing the best they can to care for these orphaned and vulnerable children. NGOs like Hope Worldwide South Africa (HWW SA) play an increasingly important role in connecting these needy children to critical services such as emergency food rations, national identity documentation, birth certificates, and education. Through regular home visits, HWW SA community workers visit families in impoverished areas around the country to ensure the whole family is thriving—emotionally, physically, and intellectually. With such a comprehensive approach, the organization works to connect each individual family to the resources it needs.
From early childhood education to access and social welfare programs to food baskets and identity documents, HWW SA provides customized interventions to each and every one of its clients. Through this ongoing support, HWW SA and its many staff, volunteers, and supporters are working together to change lives by providing comprehensive and compassionate social services to some of South Africa’s poorest and most vulnerable people.
You can become a monthly donor and help families like Ntombi*. For a donation please visit: https://www.hopeww.org/africa