YFC begins car sticker project

2015-11-04 06:00
PHOTO: Ian Carbutt Simphiwe Sithole, co-ordinator of an outreach programme that helps children and youths living on the street.

PHOTO: Ian Carbutt Simphiwe Sithole, co-ordinator of an outreach programme that helps children and youths living on the street.

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YOUTH For Christ in Pietermaritzburg (YFC) launched a car sticker campaign to give motorists a tangible way of supporting and caring for children and youth living on the streets by buying car stickers for R50, which goes to YFC for them.

The campaign enables motorists to help homeless people without giving money to them, which is one of the reasons­ that keeps them on the streets - knowing they get an income.

The Khayalethu car sticker is aimed at helping street children and youths, specifically those under 18, who are Khayalethu’s main focus.

In articles published in Maritzburg Fever, outreach co-ordinator of YFC, Simphiwe Sithole, asked the community not to give them money as this “builds a relationship” with them.

Sithole said some children have been offered assistance by the public in the form of finding work for them and getting them off the street.

“Giving money directly to a child or a youth on the street only makes the streets a comfortable place to live in. It feeds their addictive habit, making the decision to leave much harder.

“People often want to help, but don’t know how. People feel burdened to see children on the streets, or feel guilty for not giving money when a child begs at the window. The car sticker serves this market,” said Sithole.

Before YFC started selling the stickers, Sithole and his team created awareness about the children and explained the car stickers to people so they are aware of them.

The sticker serves three purposes - they are a source of income for the Khayalethu Project so developmental programmes can continue, a promotional marketing drive creates awareness for motorists not to give money to children on the streets, and having the car sticker on the windscreen is a reminder to children that motorists care.

“We believe this will help bridge the gap between the motorist and the young person on the street. If you invest in the car stickers you are more likely to have a positive mentality, which is really needed.

“Children and youth on the streets want to be seen and treated as human beings, not as criminals, outcasts or an annoyance,” said Sithole.

The funds go directly to Khayalethu Outreach Programme that works with young people struggling with street life. Funds are also used for a rehabilitation programme, transporting children and youth to rehabilitation centres and home visitations.

Sithole said that there are about 150 people living on Pietermaritzburg­ streets, but the numbers have come down over the past year.

Khayalethu has been able to reunite more than 10 children and youth with their families.

Some returned home on their own after one-on-one sessions and relationship-building with them. There were 12 people who attended a three-month rehabilitation programme this year and who have returned home, while eight are on the waiting list for admission to rehabilitation centres in the new year. There has also been an improvement and decrease in the number of children at the new shelter in Havelock Road as part of the Lots projects.

The car stickers can be bought from YFC offices at 1 Alan Paton Avenue (above Body Dynamics­ Gym.

For more information, contact YFC at 033 345 2970 or visit www.youthkzn.co.za/car-stick ers

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