Life of a child in informal settlements

Why are “Not For Profit Organisations” essential in informal settlements?

For suburban children life is rather gratifying, and we believe that’s how life should be for every child and for every teenager. In a country that has a huge gap in distribution of income, it’s a dog eats dog world. The poor are getting poorer, the middle class remains the same and the rich are getting richer. Many organisations in informal settlements exists to succor vulnerable children, children with disabilities, orphans, children living with HIV/AIDS etc, and are here to give these children the rudimentary of being a child.

The honest truth about life in informal settlements always sounds like a sad story being told over and over again, which, makes a lot of people to lose interest in helping people who are in anguish because of their standards of living. For a children growing in informal settlements, some of the few daily challenges are not being able to go to school because some can’t afford to buy school uniforms. If they do have school uniform, they go to school for 7 to 8 hours with empty stomachs every day, and no, we not talking about teenagers here, I am talking about a 7 year old child. Some don’t even have Identity Documents because in best case scenario, they from the neighboring countries and they got in South Africa illegally. For children in informal settlements, having a meal during the day is privilege which normally comes on birthdays if the parent is still around. In many cases, especially in Kliptown where our center is situated, children as young as 12 years old are heads of their households. In this regard, the best case scenario would be that particular child who is a household head is receiving a government grant together with his or her siblings. But the worst case scenario, of which here in Kliptown it’s always the case, these kids have no documentation needed to apply for government grant. Crime is the most chosen option in life by teenage boys whereas teenage pregnancy is no shock to teenagers living in slums. If one has guts to stand against crime, the very same society he tries to protect calls him a snitch or a sellout. There is no homelessness in shantytowns but the whole environment seems like a homeless situation.

So Not For Profit Organisations are needed to ease the pain of facing daily challenges which pose threat to the well-being of a child. These organisations need to make sure that the kid has a roof over his or her head. They ought to make sure that these kids are receiving best education and best health care. These organisations need to make sure no child goes to bed with an empty stomach or don’t have any elder to take care of them. These organisations need to make sure somehow these children participate in sporting or art activities. Yes, they must play the role of a suburban soccer mom. They need to develop the child in every way possible and expose the child into various activities till that particular child finds something he/she loves or is good at. These centers need to provide transport money to these children in-case a child needs to go into health institution for treatment. These centers must by all means protect the child against criminal activities or prevent a child from joining criminal related cliques. We now as South Africa getting out of winter, it was the responsibility of these center to provide learners of informal settlements with warm winter jerseys.

All these responsibilities, all this goodness done by these centers which some of them have employees and volunteers who are not receiving any remuneration, wages or anything except the love which comes out of the smiles of the children they work with, receive no support from the private sector and the public sector. Should we close these centers and deprive these children a brighter future they deserve? Or we need to consider others by being involved in solving other people’s problems?. From the guy in the street, to the government official, we all can make the difference if we have different hearts. Or maybe is it really not important to help make this country better for everyone who lives in it?. For such organisations, every promise one makes to them it means the world to them, it bring hope and it helps them to keep doing good. Help Izanokhanyo Community Based Project to continue making the difference it makes to the vulnerable children.