Gardening project restores dignity to homeless

2018-05-03 06:00
Marien Ndhlovu, Theo Luyando and Ndzimeni Wellington Ndayi are keen in gardening.

Marien Ndhlovu, Theo Luyando and Ndzimeni Wellington Ndayi are keen in gardening.

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Motivated by unemployment among the homeless in Woodstock, the Woodstock Improvement District’s(Wid) Social Officer, Abigail Abrahams, approached local NPO Khulisa, to come up with a solution.

As a result, Streetscapes was introduced, a programme that gives homeless people the opportunity to tend gardens in the city and sell the produce that they grow for a monthly income.

The money is handled and overseen by the Streetscapes staff and paid directly into the workers’ bank accounts.

According to Jesse Laitinen, a representative, this system works well.

“We have had great success rates in the past. After 6 months of earning R2.400 per month, 77% of the beneficiaries moved off the streets and 68% addressed their dependency on alcohol or drugs,” said Laitinen.

This high success rate is encouraging for the three candidates who are spearheading the pilot programme on Wid’s recommendation.

Sara Marien Ndhlovu, Theo Luyando and Ndzimeni Wellington Ndayi will be enrolled in the Wid and Khulisa’s three-month pilot programme, tending a garden at Trafalgar High School.

If all goes well, they will be placed in different locations where similar gardens are being kept in the Woodstock area.

Ndhlovu describes this as ideal as she sleeps on the streets in Woodstock in order to find odd jobs quickly.

This programme will provide a safe way for her to regain her confidence and provide a stable income with which to support herself and her two-year-old daughter.

Luyando had also made it clear that he was the perfect candidate for the project by his eagerness to get back on his feet.

He has been homeless for the past two years and is positive that the program will provide him with the opportunity he desperately needs to rebuild his life.

The final candidate in the project is just as enthusiastic to generate an income with his own two hands.

Ndayi,48, had previously worked for a company for nine years but then lost his job and shortly thereafter, became homeless.

At his age, he say, the excitement about restarting his career is palpable. He is particularly excited to be in possession of an ID and a bank account.

The contacts that they hope to build will prove highly beneficial to navigating themselves out of poverty, not to mention the restoration of dignity through meaningful employment.

They will be given support, training and counselling throughout the duration of the project. They will also be monitored, with progress reports being sent to Wid on a monthly basis.

Abrahams will be in regular contact with the Streetscapes team to make sure the candidates deliver on their contract, and also receive the support they need to succeed.

“I’m very excited to see this programme up and running,” says Abrahams.

“It has had its challenges, but I believe that it will be very beneficial for everyone involved.”

She added that in order for the programme to be a success, public support is vital. Financial support from local businesses will help fund the fencing, compost, tools and seeds to run the garden.

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