In South Africa, the term township usually refers to the (often underdeveloped) urban living areas that, from the late 19th century until the end of Apartheid, were reserved for non-whites (black Africans, Coloureds and Indians). Townships were usually built on the periphery of towns and cities. The term township also has a distinct legal meaning, in South Africa’s system of land title, and carries no racial connotations.

Within the townships, the communities face many troubling issues. Most often the homes are built on lands that are not owned by the occupier so are there unofficially.  Since the houses are not there with the government’s permission they do not have the proper services needed. Without the proper services, such as sewage, electricity, roads, and clean water, life is very difficult.

Children as young as 12 or 13 will begin the initiation into a local gang. Children that begin that young have a role model that is a gang, which is the reason for their own induction. Some see violence and gangs as a way of life and a culture.

Education is poor. Secondary education is often unavailable or out of reach as few Senior Schools exist within or near a township.

The effects of HIV/AIDS on families in South Africa is devastating. The majority of the population that this disease is infecting is the young adults, leaving behind a generation of children who are growing up without their parents. Grandparents and older children are left behind to pick up the pieces which cause financial, emotional and developmental problems. Although the South Africa government has educated society against the stigma of HIV/AIDS, many still feel the shame associated with the illness. This affects the care available to the sufferer and their families making it difficult for many to access education, life-saving drugs, an income and support.

Smutsville is one of these poor settlements, on the outskirts of Sedgefield. The settlement suffers from many of these township issues and specifically as a result of no available senior school. However, there is an extremely strong sense of community, of pride and an overwhelming willingness to move forward.