Alternatives to street Life


uMthombo was founded by husband and wife Bulelwa and Tom Hewitt. Bulelwa has extensive experience working with children and youth living on the street.

Tom has been working with street children since 1992 after first meeting street children in 1990, in Maputo, during the Mozambican civil war. He is known for his commitment to ending the round-ups of street children by authorities in Durban and has received an MBE from Queen Elizabeth II for his work with street children. Tom was uMthombo’s first CEO.

uMthombo was originally called Durban Street Team in 1998 when it was an outreach and aftercare team of four people and one vehicle that would drive around all day assisting street children!

A lot has changed, in 2004 it was renamed uMthombo Street Children and the first team of Former Street children joined and started being trained as child and youth-care workers and advocacy officers. In 2005 uMthombo was registered as a non-profit organisation.

uMthombo has developed a model of intervention based around the fusion of high-intensity engagement programmes (surfing, soccer, art, drama, music) and psychosocial support towards an alternative to the streets. The central point of its activities is its 24/7 drop-in centre called Safe-space, in the Point area of Durban. In 2012 uMthombo entered an exciting new era by bringing on Mpendulo Nyembe (a qualified social worker and formerly KZN Office Manager and SADC Regional Coordinator of the Institute for Healing of Memories) as its new Director.

With the implementation of uMthombo’s new Director, it was critical that a strategic planning session took place inclusive of uMthombo’s key staff to redefine and establish their strategic objectives to effectively deliver their services to street children and making a difference in the community.  

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