2023 Highlights

Street Situations

Our data from previous 3 years, had shown that the number of children & youth in street situations was almost on par, with a small difference, between 1 or 2 percentage, based on intake gender statistics. At the close of 2023, we now noted a significant increase in the number of older street-connected boys, being more prevalent in our engagements.

A number of social ills plagues our country, with unemployment rate projected above 45% and substance misuse taking its tall, mainly amongst youth between 18 – 35 years of age. We also noted an increased exposure to substance abuse by a number of pupils in schools, who are in their teenage years. This significant increase, mainly in the male category can possibly be attributed to young men taking whatever measures to possibly sustain their livelihoods. This also means taking risks and finding themselves in illicit activities within the city’s streets environment.

Year on year

from 2020, the age category between 18 – 30 years of age, continued to be on the rise, this being indicative of our country’s state of unemployment as well as the many gaps that exist in the education system, skills development or artisanship prospects. Many young people in this age category find themselves despondent and some have easily fallen into life destroying habits due to lack of opportunities, proper guidance and support.
The graph below show’s the different age categories that we have engaged with, in the past 12 months.

During our interaction in 2023, we noted that mostly, there were different opinions and perception on what we offer as an organisation, which led to different attitudes when engaging on outreach. Many young people thought that being involved with uMthombo, is an easy way of accessing employment prospects & therefore be also assisted with accommodation. Upon realisation, the extent of work needed to be undertaken and the responsibility that each will have to carry, the state of readiness & willingness was at a lowest level upon assessments made, Forty young people were targeted to be part of an awareness session to help them fully understand uMthombo’s activities, as well as what is required from them to be part of these activities successfully.

Being Independent

22 (12 Females & 10 Males) young people managed to attend, where they interacted with former beneficiaries who have been successfully reintegrated , either through an independent living programme, reintegrated back home with families or enrolled in a learnership programme. The space provided, enabled young people to talk among themselves, creating a platform to talk freely, engaging with former beneficiaries who managed to commit themselves, followed the guidelines and took a necessary step, in terms of their willingness to move forward.
For the 22 who attended the session, we noted a change of attitude and perception on what uMthombo offers and the realisation that it is possible for change to happen, as they related to their peers who they once knew or seen on the streets. 4 young people (1 Female & 3 Males) immediately committed themselves for a detoxification process, which they started and completed. The remaining 18 are work in progress and are being closely mentored and monitored.

A Journey … few have tried… & succeeded…

Due to the multi-faceted nature of challenges faced by girls and young women in street situations, uMthombo had to dig deeper in trying to find the most suitable responses & engagements when it comes to Adolescent Girls & Young Women (AGYW), who are street-connected or in street-situation. For so long, our female reintegration numbers were low, ranging between 1-3 per annum. Intentional and systematic focus on females who are in street– situation started evolving as early as 2015, bearing minimal impact ,yet at the same time ,fulfilling that at least few were assisted to move away from street-life into a more meaningful state of being that is safe & secure. In 2021 July, our 3rd pilot commenced, focusing on young women & mothers, titling it, Young Women Independent Living Project (YWIL). Thirty young women/mothers were targeted to be part of the YWIL, over a period of 3 years. The aim was to prioritize young women’s own journey of becoming independent, facilitating a process where they could start realizing their potential & work towards a more much stable livelihood. Secondly, if major challenges have been resolved back at home, be reintegrated back to their families or community, where those spaces are deemed safe enough for their well-being or that of their children.

53 young women have been involved, within the last 3 years, preparing them for their rehabilitation and eventually independence, mostly with babies. Twenty-five moved away into safe spaces to restart their lives and taking necessary steps in becoming independent. To date 16 are independent at home or in their own spaces. Four other young women have recently been enrolled in a learnership programme and five relapsed over the same period of time. Much more work is still envisaged , still needing much support for uMthombo to forge through and for the street-connected young women and or mothers to be accompanied in their quest to redefine their lives. “Quotes” above are from 3 young women who have just experienced this change in 2023.

“Thanks to uMthombo for bringing out my inner beauty , I no longer want my energy to be wasted, nor depleted, nor altered”

“Remember what you invite in your life is what you invest in, so choose your cycle wisely”

“I am hopeful, grateful, courageous,& determined to face whatever challenges in life & I will never give up”

Our Community Development Work

This can best be described as, aiming to bring about much needed support to children and youth at risk, in realizing their full positive potential and contributing meaningfully in rebuilding their communities.
In 2023, various strides have been made in our engagement, both within the city and in neighboring townships. Working with schools, mentoring 90 learners to be role models & leaders in curbing substance misuse ,as well working with 34 (31m & 3f ) learners in addition, who were misusing substances. Fifteen leaners were able to completely recover from taking substances and the remaining fourteen only were still battling with marijuana (cannabis) by the end of 2023. Progress will be monitored as 2024 school calendar year resumes.
Collaborations with community based organization, local and regional government departments has yielded positive results in creating an enabling environment, encouraging young people to come forth, being assisted in dealing with the misuse of substances.
One hundred and fourteen (106 males & 8 females) availed themselves for assistance and only 51 (50 m & 1 f) managed to come forth to start a drug reduction process, and by year end only 25 managed to stay clean.

Our Journey

As we continue to embark on a journey to help street-connected children to be in safe and secure environment and youth to be productive members of society. Through our Independent Living Project, learneships / internships were offered, working with various stakeholders, mainly business within the eThekwini Municipality. This has resulted in 79 internship positions secured for former beneficiaries, (51) directly linked to street life and (28) at– risk young, receiving a R3500.00 (146£ / 184$) monthly stipend. Hoping these numbers will continue to raise, as we continue to help each individual young person in becoming a responsible and productive member of society.
In total seven camps were held in 2023, creating a platform for young people to start a journey of redefining themselves anew, full of hope and dream for their own future, without being engulfed and finding themselves in misery of substance misuse & abuse.

Seven Camps

With the total number of seven camps held in 2023, creating a platform for young people to start a journey of redefining themselves anew, full of hopes and dreams for their own new found future. For some, it has been a new beginning, being able to remain resilient without being engulfed and finding themselves in misery of substance misuse, for over six months, & few others for just over two months. Life skills, therapeutic and work preparedness sessions undertaken during these camps, enabled them to stay on course but the road is still long way ahead.
We are hoping that through our mentoring & monitoring sessions to be undertaken in 2024, all will remain resilient and be a beacon of hope for others wishing to start and take this uneasy journey for themselves.

for those who couldn’t make it, we say… Chances are endless and we can all try again …

Join Us in Making a Difference

Your support can change lives. Whether through donations, volunteering, or spreading the word, your involvement is crucial to our mission of reintegrating street-connected children and youth into family and community life. Together, we can provide these young individuals with the tools and support they need to build a brighter future.