SOS Children’s Villages supports individual children, young people and families so that they can thrive (photo: SOS Children’s Villages South Africa).

Pietermaritzburg is the capital of the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal and has over 600,000 inhabitants. Unfortunately, the heritage of apartheid is still very much felt in the city. The standard of living here is very low. Many people are unemployed and live in poverty. For many children, this means growing up in dangerous conditions, not having enough to eat and no access to education. In addition, the HIV/AIDS pandemic is a major health threat in the region.

Since 1996, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Pietermaritzburg.

Of people in the city live in poverty

Consequences of apartheid

In Pietermaritzburg, the remains of apartheid are still very tangible. It has been argued that living conditions for the disadvantaged – women and children in particular – have even declined since the official end of apartheid in 1994. While efforts to resolve the problems inherited from the regime are ongoing, diseases like tuberculosis and diarrhoea have been on the rise and life expectancy has declined for the majority of people in the area. In fact than 50% of the local population lives in poverty. Many have never had a decent job and have little hope of ever obtaining one. Poverty makes families here incredibly vulnerable and often means that children do not have any access to education or health care.

1 in 5
People in South Africa live with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS remains a major challenge throughout South Africa, but in Pietermaritzburg the situation is particularly severe. A large number of children have lost parental care or are at risk of losing it due to the disease. When a parent falls ill, they lose their ability to work and therefore to provide for their family. Many children have to earn a living in some way and take on the responsibility of caring for their sick parents and siblings. In doing so, they often sacrifice their education. Children in Pietermaritzburg who have lost the care of their parents are also at risk of being recruited for child labour or commercial sexual exploitation.

Your support makes a difference for children in Pietermaritzburg

SOS Children’s Villages works with local partners and communities to offer a wide range of support that is adapted to the local context. We always work in the best interest of the children, young people and families.
Can stay together
Children and young people
Grow up in our care
Young people
Are supported on their way to independence
Children in our care having fun playing together. Siblings grow up together in families, and often form bonds that last a lifetime (photo: SOS Children’s Villages South Africa).

How your support helps in Pietermaritzburg

Strengthening families and communities
When parents face hardships, they can sometimes struggle to give children the care they need. SOS Children’s Villages works with local partners and communities. Each family needs different support so that they can stay together. This support can include workshops on parenting and children’s rights. We also run training so that parents can get the skills they need to get a job or start their own businesses. Likewise, we ensure that children can get medical help and go to school.
Caring for children who cannot live with their families
Some children cannot stay with their families, even with additional support. When this happens, they can find a new home in SOS Children’s Villages. Here the children can build safe and lasting relationships. All the children in our care have access to education and healthcare. Wherever possible, we work closely with the children’s family of origin. If children can return to live with their families, we help them adapt to this change.
Supporting young people to become independent
To help young people become confident and independent, our local team works closely with each young person to develop a plan for their future. We support young people and also help them prepare for the labour market and increase their employment prospects. For example, young people can attend workshops and trainings run by SOS Children’s Villages. They also improve their skills through taking part in different projects with local mentors and businesses.