South Africa now has 1.4 million AIDS orphans, and many of them end up on the streets. It is estimated that 60 per cent of street children and young people in South Africa have HIV. The general public’s perception is that street children are criminals and they are often subjected to hostile treatment by the authorities.

Street children and young people struggle to access local services. Many of them are hard-to-reach and staffed with people not used to working with vulnerable young people.

We supported the YMCA to improve the life chances of street children and young people in KwaZulu-Natal and increase access services and vocational training opportunities through our dedicated drop-in centre, where food, clothing and specialist support (such as drug counselling) were provided. The YMCA also provided mentoring, peer education, computer training and a safe space for recreation.

The YMCA also trained staff and local authority members, so they could tailor their support to meet the needs of street children and young people.