The city of Port Elizabeth has a population of over one million and is located on South Africa’s southeastern coast. It is part of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality. Despite the end of apartheid in the 1990s, its consequences are still visible here today, as many families are disadvantaged and live in very poor conditions in neglected townships. Basic infrastructure is often lacking, and children have limited access to health services or schools. The spread of HIV/AIDS adds further strain, as many children are at risk of losing parental care due to the disease. Often left to fend for themselves, these children are extremely vulnerable.
Since 1989, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Port Elizabeth.
Since the end of apartheid in 1994, Port Elizabeth has experienced much of the same problems as the rest of the country: areas that were formerly inhabited by the forcibly relocated Black African population are now facing urban decay. People in the area suffer from a lack of services, overcrowded and inadequate housing. Many townships lack the most basic infrastructure, such as roads, schools, health services, running water or electricity. Furthermore, unemployment is a key issue in the area and many families struggle to survive. Children growing up here experience disadvantages of all kinds from an early age.
In Port Elizabeth, living conditions are already harsh for many people. The spread of HIV/AIDS has exacerbated the hardship that many families face on a daily basis. Children are most affected by these conditions, especially when they are at risk of losing the care of their parents. Unemployment is generally high and when parents fall ill, they are often unable to work, which means they lose their income and can no longer meet the family's basic needs. Their children are then at risk of neglect. In many cases, the children take on the responsibility of caring for their sick parents, compromising their education - and their childhood - in the process. This also has emotional, behavioural and social consequences for the child.