Welkom is located in the Free State Province of South Africa. It’s historically a gold mining town, since 1947, was declared a city in 1968. Welkom is a flat area, 4,708 ft above sea level. The city is home to over 211,000 people, 84.9% Black African, 10.8% White, 3.7% Coloured (Mixed), and 0.4% Indian or Asian.
Welkom’s history as a mining town contributes to its current state. Male miners left their families to work in the mines and were provided with prostitutes in lieu of their families living with them, which aided in spreading HIV. South Africa has high rates of the population living with HIV. The country has an average of 19.2% infected, and Free State Province has 14% of its population infected, the third highest rate in South Africa’s nine provinces.
The prevalence of HIV leaves orphaned children, children with caretakers who are too sick to provide, and children infected in utero. The UNAIDS estimates 2 100 000 children orphaned due to HIV/AIDS in South Africa. The distress of circumstances also leads some parents to turn to drugs and alcohol, causing children to be removed from their home or the parents to abandon the children out of desperation.
Welkom is a beautiful city, known for its lack of traffic lights and landscaped streets. It is also a city with a lot of hurt. This is a city that needs the love of God and the hope that He brings.