Tennyson House is the only shelter and safe haven for homeless
girls living on the streets in Durban, South Africa. Set up
by Robyn Hemmens of Youth For Christ in 1996, the centre was
designed specifically to address the growing number of female
street children on the city streets of Durban and to work
to reconcile them with their families.
visited Tennyson House in 1997 to examine the problems first-hand. As a result Trade plus Aid funded the salary of
the centre's first professional childcare social worker for
an initial 6 months, to work with the children and their families
in order to effect a successful reconciliation.
House provides an alternative to young street girls (aged
10-16 years) who otherwise have to align themselves with street
gangs to survive, often becoming involved in prostitution
or being exploited by unscrupulous employers. The girls are
malnourished and often have medical problems, including HIV/Aids.
Tthey may be taking drugs or sniffing glue; some have babies.
House reaches out to the girls on the street through the Durban
Street Children's Forum and the City Police and provides a
stabilising and nurturing environment with the end goal of
seeing the child placed responsibly back in her family and
centre ensures the girls receive medical aid and works to
feed the girls back into the mainstream school with the assistance
of outside tutoring programmes which make up for time lost
on the streets. The girls receive one-to-one counselling to
deal with personal issues, address behavioural problems and
set individual action plans for the future. There are dance
and drama workshops and sports activities, as well workshops
on drug and alcohol abuse.
they have located the family, Tennyson House identifies services
in and around the community where the family lives which can
be a resource to the family and offers a Parent Skills Programme
to help the parents cope. "It is strongly felt that no
matter how well we do with the girls in our care, if we return
them to families who cannot cope, we don't help the girls
very much at all". When a girl returns home, after-care
continues with regular follow-up visits, letters, phone calls
and contact with the schools.
further information on Tennyson House and Youth for Christ