South Africa, like many other countries, is grappling with the fact that, due to various socio-economic situations, groups of children find themselves living on the streets, largely fending for themselves in order to survive. Durban has long been a city where homeless have been attracted, in part due to its warm climate. In the past the numbers of street children have been high but times are changing!
Umthombo is an organisation based in Durban, South Africa that empowers street children and aims to change the way that society perceives and treats them. Umthombo’s Durban model is pioneering the idea of providing alternatives to street life through engagement and therapeutic interventions and focuses on addressing the traumas associated with the children’s experiences. Umthombo’s team is a fusion of social working professionals and trained former street children who have a unique understanding of the realities of the street child experience and an incredible relationship of trust and respect with the children.
Umthombo also engages in advocacy around key issues that relate to street children. Through campaigns it aims to demystify the urban phenomenon of street children, educate society as to the realities that these children face and to impact policy and decision making in relation to street children. Umthombo develops informed citywide strategy examples as a springboard to local debate and action and has been actively part of the developing of a new national policy on street children with the South African Department of Social Development.
Umthombo is a fully registered section 21 company and non-profit organisation. It was founded in 1998 and formerly called the Durban Street Team. In 2005 it was renamed Umthombo Street Children.