Where We Work

Thembanathi works in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, the province with the highest rates of HIV infection in South Africa, a country with the largest number of people with HIV in the world. In South Africa, the long-term effects of the Apartheid government’s structural racial segregation and discrimination have created many challenges, particularly for those who live in the former “Bantustans” (or black homelands). These areas, where Africans were resettled under the Apartheid system, faced decades of systematic underdevelopment, particularly in the educational system. In contemporary South Africa, the situation has been worsened by the devastating effects of the HIV epidemic.

The area where our projects are based is part of the former homeland of KwaZulu, where black South Africans of Zulu descent were settled under Apartheid. Today, it remains one of the poorest areas in South Africa, with little productive land and an unemployment rate over 60%. Because of the lack of resources, most families rely on the wages of migrant laborers, who live and work in the cities, often leaving children in the care of grandparents or other relatives. In addition to the difficult economic situation, the area has one of the highest reported HIV rates in the world—adult HIV prevalence is about 25 percent, with rates peaking at 59 percent in women age 25 to 29 years old. In areas like this, where every family is affected not only by HIV, but also by longstanding patterns of inequality, there is an incredible need for educational and care programs for vulnerable young people and families.
Children in Gingindlovu, South Africa