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Street girls in the Tennyson House. (Source: Ralf Krämer)

Street children project for girls

South Africa: Durban, one of the most prosperous cities in South Africa, is a magnet for very many children and young people from peri-urban or rural areas. However, children hoping for a better life are soon exposed to the dangers on the streets of Durban. We support the street children project Tennyson House, run by our local partner Youth for Christ/KwaZulu-Natal, an organisation that has been working mainly with girls since 1996. Please support our on-site project work with a donation or sponsor a child.

A life in poverty

Young people lying around on the street. (Source: Krämer, Ralf)
Life on the street is dangerous for young people.

About twenty years after the end of apartheid, a large part of South Africa’s population is still living in poverty. While economy is booming, unemployment remains high. The street children project Tennyson House is based in Durban, a city on the east coast of South Africa on the Indian Ocean. The port city has a good infrastructure and a reputation as South Africa’s “pleasure capital”.

Every month, hundreds of children and young people flock to this city to escape poverty. Growing up in broken families and overcrowded living conditions, they tend to have school problems. In many cases, the parents are unemployed, are depressed, drink excessively or neglect their children. Increasingly, children are losing their parents to HIV/AIDS.

Hoping to find a better life, youths are confronted with the harsh realities of street life. Before long, they realise that life in Durban is dangerous and that they do not have enough to eat or a roof over their heads. Youths are frequently arrested by the police for loitering. Particularly at night, girls are in danger of being raped.

Our street children project

We work together with the organisation “Youth for Christ/KwaZulu-Natal” (YFC/KZN) dedicated to working with street children since 1996. YFC/KZN carries out projects for and with homeless and endangered young people and their families. These families generally come from the surrounding areas of Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

What we do to help

Tennyson House is the only street children project that supports girls in Durban. The girls are between the ages of ten and 25. The project work includes:

Street girl with her daughter at the Tennyson House. (Source: YFC)
Street girl with her daughter at the Tennyson House.

Street work: Working with youths on the streets is crucial in establishing an initial contact and trusted relationship. The street workers are available to help youths cope with their problems and assist them when they are in trouble with the police or other authorities. If the girls consent, the street workers endeavour to contact their families. The aim is to re-integrate the children in their parental homes or with relatives as soon as possible.

Shelter: Girls can stay at the project shelter until they can return home or live with relatives. As a rule, each girl’s stay at the shelter is limited to one year. The girls go to school, do their homework and household chores. Additionally, the shelters offer recreational activities for youths. Students at Durban University and other volunteers encourage the girls to get involved in sports, excursions and other afternoon and weekend activities.

Returning to the family home: It soon becomes apparent which girls are unwilling to return home expecting that they will be disciplined and which girls find it more difficult or even impossible to go home immediately. The Tennyson House staff is in close contact with state social workers and the courts. Tennyson House develops an individual plan for each girl to plan steps that will enable her to return to the family home. Interim steps include weekends home stays and workshops at the Tennyson House. The parents are invited to talk about issues such as parent-child relationships, violence and sexuality.

Preventative work: Tennyson House places particular importance on preventive measures to ensure that youths don’t end up on the street in the first place. “Drop-in centres” have been set up in recent years in several locations around Durban where children can do their homework, take part in recreational activities or education courses on HIV/AIDS. The children’s parents are also involved and are encouraged to visit courses on how to effectively deal with their problems. Families in which one or both parents are sick or dying are provided with active assistance and support.

Project No. 72281

Our objective: Realising children's rights

Our objective: Realising children's rights

Any interventions aimed at a long-term positive impact on children's lives must contribute to realising and safeguarding their rights. This is the focus of our work, both in Germany and abroad.

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How we protect children

How we protect children

Kindernothilfe supports numerous protection programs and makes every effort to prevent the children involved in its projects abroad and in its German-based activities from sexual abuse and maltreatment.

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Donate now

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