2010 South Africa - 12th, 13th and 14th June - Durban Print E-mail
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2010 South Africa
12th, 13th and 14th June - Durban
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Saturday 12th June - Umthombo Street Children, Durban


We were invited to watch the England vs USA match with the street children at "Safe Space", the Umthombo centre.
Founder Tom Hewitt picked us up from our hotel - although the centre is only a few streets away, it's situated in a total no-go zone.

umthombo_3_320x214There were around 20/30 kids there to watch the match with us - and you couldn't find a friendlier, more polite bunch of children, despite the horrors they've face in their lives. Most of them came over to chat at some point, and they clearly found the kilts hilarious.
Englishman Tom was in his country's colours and when England opened the scoring early in the match the kids all piled on top of him. Even within our first hour at the centre it became clear that Tom is really loved and respected by the children - a real father/brother figure.
After the match Tom gave us a tour of the building, showing us how TACC's grant had already been put to use. Firstly they had bought some very sturdy tables and benches for their dining room. He then showed us the dorms - triple bunk beds for 18 girls and around 50 boys. We were gobsmacked to find out that TACC's grant had paid for these and helped Umthombo take a massive step change from a day centre to a 24/7 Safe Space for the children. As recently as last month the kids had to leave at night, and would sleep together along the side of the building for safety.
We were blown away by the implications of this - for Scotland's football supporters to have provided this for these children is a fantastic achievement and leaves a lasting legacy. These are children who face violence, drugs and abuse on the streets - even this week one of the girls was raped - and to give them a bed for the night will make a massive difference to their lives.
And yet to watch the kids that evening, laughing and playing with each other, you really wouldn't have known how hard their lives have been and still are. There is a real feeling of trust and respect.





Sunday 13th June - Umthombo, Durban


When we had pledged our grant to Umthombo one of our requests was that they spent a small part of it on a party day for the children.

In the run up to the World Cup Finals, the street children in Durban were coming under great pressure from the authorities - even on the internet we found many stories of them being rounded up and driven 10 miles out of town, where they would be beaten and left.
These alleged round ups were shocking - if the authorities wanted to "clean up" the streets during the World Cup could they not work more closely with centres like Umthombo? Anyway, our hope was that the party would give the kids a day of World Cup fun for themselves, and also generate some extra awareness/PR for the centre during this difficult period.
We arrived at the centre at midday to find 40/50 children tucking in to a special BBQ. They were then treated to a magician (Adrian the Magician, no less) who was really cheesy but hysterically funny to the children, and then a local hip hop DJ. Several of the children actually took the mic and entertained their mates with some impressive rapping and singing.


TACC presented the centre with a new style Scotland shirt with the words

The football team gratefully received this.






Monday 14th June - Umthombo, Durban



Tom kindly offered to show us Umthombo's outreach work in action, and on Monday we spent time at the surfing and football programmes.  Umthombo is situated in downtown Durban and in order to keep the younger boys safe, the centre employs some former street children as 'security'. They've adopted our TACC t-shirts as their new 'uniform'.

As well as simply providing the children with shelter and food, Umthombo's goal is to rehabilitate them. Nearly all of them will have suffered abuse at home forcing them to leave in the frst place. Once on the streets they get through life with the help of glue and petty crime. Umthombo uses social work and outreach programmes to rehabilitate the children, address their traumas and try to get them off the streets for good.


As well as a way to connect with the children and get them involved in the first place, the daily surfing and football programmes give the children something positive to focus on - the physical 


aspects of surfing and football demanding dedication, practise and team work, all of which helps the children to make the choice themselves to come off the glue and spend more time at Umthombo. 
Seeing this first hand really hit home to us what a valuable resource the programmes are, and we're pleased that 1/3 of TACC's grant will help to fund them.
We left Durban with our eyes opened to the horrific plight of street children, and the amazing work that Tom and Mandy and people like them do. It may not be the "fluffiest" of charitable causes, but it's one that touched our hearts deeply and that we are now 100% determined to support going forward.


Note: many of Tom's staff are ex-street children themselves, a groundbreaking model for outreach.

The Tartan Army's support of Umthombo has literally enabled us to extend the services of our therapeutic drop-in centre, called Safespace, to being open 24/7. Children living on the streets of Durban's Point district, the area where most street children are, have somewhere to live now and sleep during the process of our social workers empowering them to leave street life. This is a huge boost to our work and to the children who have been living on Durban's city streets. Thank you for the partnership, for the support and encouragement. There will forever be a framed Scotland football shirt on the wall of Umthombo!!! Thank you Scotland. Thank you Tartan Army.

Thanks so much for everything. Not joking, your support has transformed us. Take care mate,




(Trustees Carey and Jamie’s travel costs were funded by a corporate donation. It remains TACC policy that 100% of every £1 donated by fans goes directly to good causes)


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