Christmas feast for Cape Town's homeless

2015-12-22 22:24
Clifton (Seeff)

Clifton (Seeff)

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Cape Town - What started out as a plan to feed five needy people for Christmas ended up with almost 100 hungry tummies filled as three organisations joined forces to bring smiles to Cape Town's homeless.

Cape Town Help the Homeless (CTHTH), the Marcus Garvey Foundation and the Red, Gold and Green Creche enjoyed a special Christmas party with street people at the Grand Central in the CBD on Tuesday afternoon.

Yasmin Schlegel-Shrestha, a German social activist and founder of CTHTH, said she initially planned to spoil five people with a Christmas dinner but later decided to appeal for donations to increase the number of recipients who would receive a hot meal.

“These are people who have very little,” she said. “Instead of having them spend the season of giving alone and without much to enjoy, we wanted to help them forget about their situations for a few hours and enjoy life.”

She regularly feeds homeless people living in the Cape Town on a smaller scale, she explained.

“In Germany, the homelessness issue is not as big as it is here. There are better opportunities for those who want to make something of themselves.

“But here, people face discrimination because of their situations. Most want to work, but no one wants to give them a chance. How then do we help change their circumstances?”

Overwhelmed by donations

Schlegel-Shrestha said she was overwhelmed by the amount of food given by anonymous donors.

Eager hands reached for bowls of curry, salad, chicken and bread rolls while sipping on cups of juice.

Owen Kama, 38, who sleeps on the streets of Zonnebloem, said he couldn’t remember the last time he enjoyed a warm plate of food.

“This is the best meal I have had in a long time,” he said as he tucked in. “My day, my week – no, my whole year, has been made by these brothers and sisters. God is good.”

He diligently packed away half a meal in a Styrofoam bowl to take “home” to his brother. “He can’t be here today. I will keep this for him – I know what it feels like to be forgotten and I want him to know I care.”

Charmaine Hector, 48, has been on the streets for the past four months and has grown accustomed to living from hand to mouth. To her, the plate of food was like a Christmas feast.

“This is my first festive season on the streets. It’s harder than I thought it would be,” she said.

“But seeing such good people open their hearts to someone like me is heartwarming. For once people aren’t looking past me like I am invisible. They are here for us. They realise we are humans too.”


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