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Empilweni  was established in 1994 by the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health at the University of Cape Town.

The clinic was established after the University of Cape Town conducted research in Khayelitsha, the findings of which verified need for such an organization. Research demonstrated that approximately one quarter of the 500 children interviewed showed signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.(PTSD).

Further research showed that every one of the 500 children interviewed had experienced some form of violence. These findings indicate that there is a high, and immediate, need for child intervention and therapeutic services in informal settlements such as Khayelitsha. More facts which validate the need for such services are the following:

 • Khayelitsha has an estimated population of approximately 1,000,000 people • 38% of the population are below 15 years of age

• A substantial proportion of households are headed by single mothers

• Two thirds of the population is estimated to be unemployed.

• There is a high rate of violence, child abuse and poverty, with children comprising the most drastically impacted demographic.

 • Projected figures indicate that at least 5.7 million children in South Africa could lose one or both parents from HIV/AIDS by 2015 and more than 30% of all children between 15 and 17 will have lost their mothers.

• Currently, Empilweni is the only mental health care project in Khayelitsha that specifically provides therapeutic and counselling services to children and adolescents.

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