Umthombo/Drop-in centre (Victoria Embankement/Margret Mncadi)
The word Umthombo means ‘well spring’ in the Nguni language. There is however also a tree that carries its name. It is a very strong tree which grows in dry areas of the country. The soil around the Umthombo tree is always moist. Because of this it is considered to be a tree that brings hope, one that flourishes against all odds.
Umthombo’s work for street children mainly focuses on ‘after care’ (bringing children back to their families) and a ‘back to school program’. On the site there are many different activities. The kids get computer lessons, there is a movie club and in the afternoon there is soccer, surfing and capoeira.
Inside this little drop in centre there is room to shower and wash clothes. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided. Because Umthombo is not allowed to let children sleep at the site, the movie club was initiated. From 10 in the evening until 5 in the morning street children can come and watch movies. In that way the children are safe and can even get some rest.
Each day approximately seventy children come to the drop in centre. Umthombo is now planning to create satellite centers around town to cater for the needs of Durban’s many street children. One of Umthombo’s big achievements was the first ever ‘indaba’ (literally: an important conference in Zulu and Xhosa) for street children. More then two hundred children met with official local government representatives. This changed the attitude of City Council towards street children. Hopefully this will have an effect on their policy towards them.
With its creative interventions Cascoland engages and will stimulate that dialogue and furthermore will bring up inventive ideas that can benefit Umthombo.