As you can see from the picture we are based at the moment out of a container office in the middle of a township called Munsieville. Munsieville’s most famous resident was the Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Nobel Peace Prize Winner) who went to school there. Munsieville is situated in the Mogale City Municipality and the West Rand District of Gauteng Province, South Africa. The whole area has been a target for African population movement over the last few decades drawing people from all over the continent to come work in the mining industry. At the peak of the “gold rush” many immigrants (predominantly males) found lucrative work, and over time brought their families from their home countries. However, with the downscaling of the mining industry, thousands of people have become unemployed. Formal rates of unemployment exceed 30%, with estimates up to 70% for the informal settlements. This is continuing with the shedding of jobs due to the current global financial crisis. With the rapid rise in food prices and tightening of credit availability, thousands of people are facing increased hardship. Even though many immigrants are now facing unemployment, the majority are not returning home, but staying in South Africa, as they have been in the country for multiple years.
Munsieville has two parts – a formal part and an informal part. In the formal part many South African residents live in low cost concrete houses to which services such as water and electricity are supplied. The informal part is made up of predominantly foreigners living in the country illegally – mainly Mozambicans and Zimbabweans. They live in shacks made from scraps of wood, plastic and metal. They have no electricity, water or sanitation services provided. Disease is prevalent in the area and unemployment is high. As they are in the country illegally many cannot access any form of healthcare, education or social service grants because they have no formal identification documents.
If you want to read more on the history of Munsieville you can follow the link: http://www.mogalecity.gov.za/visitors/townships.stm
Keep on checking this blog to see how Project HOPE is meeting some of the many needs in this area!