• Vishanthie Sewpaul Vishanthie Sewpaul, School of Applied Human Sciences
  • Ingrid Osthus Ingrid Osthus Social Work students, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College Campus, Durban, South Africa.
  • Christopher Mhone Christopher Mhone,Social Work students, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College Campus, Durban, South Africa.
  • Emma Sibilo Ms Emma Sibilo, Social Work students, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College Campus, Durban, South Africa.
  • Sithembile Mbhele Ms Sithembile Mbhele,Social Work students, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College Campus, Durban, South Africa.


This article is based on two years of engagement with children and youths living on the streets of Durban. Our work was informed by critical and emancipatory frameworks and combined research and social work practice. This article reports specifically on research undertaken in respect of the experiences of children and youths living on the streets in the Durban Central Business District and the survival strategies that they adopted.1 MacDonald and Terblanche (2011:85) concluded from their study in the Western Cape that: “From the researchers’ point of view there was certainly no ‘millionaire’ ending to the story, yet from the participants’ perspective street life could be likened to a millionaire’s life in comparison with their home circumstances”. While our research in Durban supports the researchers’ view, it contests the latter assertion. Despite the extreme poverty and deprivation, often accompanied by alcoholism, violence and abuse in their family environments, the participants in our study did not believe that life on the streets was actually better than life at their homes. The words of one of the youths captured this most poignantly: “Ma’am, sometimes we talk about it in the shelter and we compare – home, shelter, street and we don’t know which one is worse.


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