Mamelodi is a township on the north-eastern outskirts of Pretoria, the capital of South Africa.
Until the formal end of apartheid in 1994, Mamelodi was an area where only Black Africans were allowed to live in order to reinforce racial segregation. The heritage of apartheid and social exclusion is still felt here today and affects the life chances of local children. Living conditions are poor and the HIV/AIDS pandemic has made the situation worse for those living in poverty in Mamelodi.
Since 1987, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Mamelodi.
The population of Mamelodi has grown steadily, mainly due to the influx of migrants from rural areas. Today, about 1.5 million people live here. Although there are small brick houses, the majority of people live in informal settlements. Despite government efforts to improve living conditions in Mamelodi by giving people small grants to build more permanent houses, the area is so overcrowded and the demand for housing so great that it has been impossible to keep up. Life in Mamelodi is still characterised by high levels of poverty and social exclusion. 50% of children grow up in poverty. Schools are understaffed, underfunded and often lack books and teaching materials. There is no running water in the houses, instead many families share public facilities.
In addition to existing hardships such as the lack of services and mass unemployment, Mamelodi has been hit hard by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. As a result, many children live with a chronically ill parent who is no longer able to care for them adequately. In addition, many children have already lost one or both parents to the disease already. In such cases, the eldest sibling often takes over the household and looks after their younger siblings. As a result, these children are often unable to attend school. In fact, 1 in 10 children does not complete secondary school. In some other cases, grandparents take care of their grandchildren, but it is often a challenge for them to provide enough food and an education for all of them.