Umthombo: a new hope for South Africa's street children
Amos Trust's involvement in South Africa has focussed on the plight of South Africa's street children for the last 15 years. Street children are the innocent victims of South Africa’s acute poverty, of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and of community breakdown and endemic violence.
Since 2005, Amos Trust has partnered Umthombo Street Children, a pioneering project in Durban, the South African city with the highest population of street children. Umthombo was established by Tom Hewitt and Bulelwa 'Mandi' Ngantweni-Hewitt, and it is a unique project as many of the staff are former street children themselves.
The best thing about my job is seeing the faces of kids when I talk to them about my own background, as they realise that I know what they are going through because I have been there. Their faces light up, they want to know how I got off the streets, they want to know if they can get off the streets too. - Bulelwa "Mandi" Ngantweni-Hewitt,Co-director, Umthombo Street Children.
Amos Trust supports the running costs of the Umthombo enabling them to run a wide range of programmes and services for street children providing social work support, a mobile health unit and a 24-hour drop-in centre, Safespace. Umthombo engages the children through it's football, arts and surfing programmes which run alongside the social work team's work helping each child to leave the street permanently.
Where possible Umthombo tries to enable children to return home or live with a relative supported by their after care team which helps the family to find support so the children do not end up back on the street.
Umthombo is playing a lead role both locally, nationally and internationally developing new ways of working to get children off the street long term, in exposing the violent and abusive treatment of street children by the police and authorities, and by challenging public misconceptions and raising awareness of the reasons why children are on the streets. Umthombo was the host of the inaugeral Street Child World Cup in 2010.
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