Why Rainbows

According to a study conducted by the South African Institute of Race Relations in 2011, only a third of children in South Africa are growing up living with two of their parents. Approximately 98 000 children live in child-headed households of whom 81 percent have a living mother. An estimated 9 million children are growing up with absent but living fathers in South Africa.
Children who grow up in single parent households are more vulnerable self-destructive behavior such as crime, substance abuse, suicide, etc.

Single Families as a result of:
The reality, according to a study done in 1999, is that children will lose a parent at an increasing younger age. Statistics released by Statistics SA stated that the life expectancy for men is 55 and women 59 years. The reasons for these are varied but are in large contributed to lifestyle choices and changes in society.


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    • Approximately 5.35 million people are living with HIV/Aids in South Africa; this is 16.6% of the adult population aged 15 – 49 years.
    • Statistics SA estimated the total number of deaths in South Africa during 2011 in the region of 591 000. Of these, 43.6% (258 000) were linked directly to HIV/Aids.
    • At the end of 2011, the number of Aids orphans in South Africa was an estimated 2 million.
    • During 2011, new infections numbered approximately 317 000 for people older than 15 and 64 000 for ages 0 -14.


  • Motor accidents

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    Over a 1 000 people die every month on South African Roads, averaging just over 13 000 deaths per year. The breakdown of people per age group dying in fatal car crashes shows that the fatalities are more centered in the ages 20 -39 years old.

  • Loss through divorce

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    During 2010, 22 936 divorces were granted of which 12 486 (54.4%) involved children younger than 18 years (these are divorces registered in only 12 of the 62 divorce courts in South Africa). Children involved numbered 20 386 which means on average two children per couple who got divorced.These figures are unfortunately not very reliable. In South Africa the different cultures’ approaches to marriage are legally acknowledged. ‘Common-law wives/husbands’ are awarded the same status and rights as those who entered into a legal marriage, but ‘dissolving’ these relationships are not registered as a divorce.

  • Separation due to Migrate workers/emigration

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    The unemployment rate in South Africa is high and people willingly ‘leave’ their families in an effort to earn a living. Sometimes one or both parents or a sibling need to relocate to another country or town.

    The migration patterns paint a bleak picture of parents leaving children behind to find work. For the period 2006-2011 approximately 215 000 people migrated from the Eastern Cape and 140 000 people from Limpopo. Gauteng en Western Cape bore the brunt of this with an inflow of around 367 000 and 95 600, respectively.

    Statistics SA stopped collecting data on emigration figures a couple of years ago. An independent study showed that at the end of 2010 over half a million South Africans are staying in foreign countries. This figure is not very reliable and most probably much lower than the reality.

  • Loss as a result of incarceration

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    The high crime rate sees many families losing a loved one to incarceration. Young children are also caught up in the crime wave, and not only are family members in goal, but children themselves are serving time behind bars.
    The latest statistics from the United Nations’ report reflect a bleak picture of South Africa’s position in the World Crime Rankings:

    • SA ranked first in – Assaults; Firearm homicide rate and Rapes.
    • SA ranked second in – Manslaughter; Murders and number of prisoners per 1000 people.
    • Other low rankings include – Drug offences (4th) and Total number of crimes committed per 1 000 people (5th).


Any form of loss has a devastating effect on children, as they affect them emotionally, academically and behaviorally.

The Rainbows programmes are designed to help children process their grief and have immediate and long term benefits. The benefits include a reduction in emotional pain; improved anger management; improved communication with parents, teachers and friends; a decline in behavioural problems and improved self-esteem.

For detailed information on the programme structure and content visit http://rainbows.org/.

Meeting the growing needs of children and adults struggling with loss in South Africa depend on the continued efforts of volunteers, the ongoing collection of vital resources and the consistent development of financial support.

You can help Rainbows continue to shine by Sharing your purse, Sharing your time and, or Sharing your network.