Radios and Lights for Displaced Swazi Children

South Africa

Thembalethu Home Based Care (THBC), is a respected community-based organisation operating near the Swaziland border in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa.  Much of this region’s population has emigrated from Swaziland and many settled here during the Mozambican civil war.   Although their children may have been born in South Africa, 80% have no identity document or birth certificate and therefore cannot access government grants for education and social services.

The area has been devastated by HIV/AIDS. Some estimates put the incidence of HIV infection as high as 50% — one of the highest in the world. THBC estimates that 4,500 orphans and vulnerable children live in 12 nearby villages and more than 350 households in are headed by children. This number is rising.

Lifeline Energy joined THBC and Sibusiso Vilane, our South African Ambassador, to provide 300 radios to vulnerable children in 2008. The recipients were children, aged 12 to 18 years, many in child-headed households or a household with an elderly or sick relative. Sibu addressed the children in Swazi, since that is his first language as well.  The children told him that they wanted first to listen to the news to find out about the weather and current events.  Given the HIV rate in the area, they also said they wanted to listen to funeral announcements to learn if a relative had died.  In addition, they want information about about rape (a common problem amongst the children especially with the absence of adults in their homes) and about other villages and places to learn about the world around them.