Homelessness deepens in the city

2018-10-24 06:03

YOUTH For Christ (YFC/KZN), Khayalethu Project director, Siboniso Nzuza, says homelessness remains a problem in Pietermaritzburg and other areas of KwaZulu- Natal.

The number of children and youth living on the streets of Pietermaritzburg is increasing daily.

Nzuza said people who are experiencing homelessness face many challenges, both emotional and physical, that make it even more difficult for them to get back on their feet.

Some of the challenges they face include food, shelter, healthcare and basic needs insecurities.

“The children and youth that we work with in the streets do not have a place to call home. This can include all the people who are spending their nights in homeless shelters, streets, abandoned buildings, or even on the couch at a friend’s home,” explained Nzuza.

Nzuza said YFC/KZN, situated at 190 Pine Street, has a programme named Khayalethu that works directly on the streets with homeless children and youth. Khayalethu also reunites the homeless with their families and communities.

“We have girls’ and boys’ shelters that are closed due to renovations. The aim of our programme is to provide early intervention and prevention initiatives for children, youth and at-risk communities struggling with poverty and unhealthy lifestyles,” said Nzuza.

“Khayalethu runs a weekly washing and bathing programme for those living in the streets of Pietermaritzburg. The number of our washing and bathing beneficiaries increases weekly. This gives us the opportunity to reach a large number of people living on the streets.

We serve food and let the beneficiaries take a bath and wash dirty laundry.

We also run sessions, where we hear their needs and encourage them to pull themselves together and give them hope since this is the key objective of our organisation,” said Nzuza.

Phukz Mntugwa, who was part of last week Wednesday’s washing and bathing said he left home a couple of months ago to live in an abandoned building in the CBD.

“I left my family for a number of reasons but would like to be re-united with them one day. I am happy to see programmes that work with homeless people.

“I cannot imagine my life without Khayalethu. This is where I find hope and courage to change my life,” said Mntugwa.

Siwe Nandu (12), who left school when she was doing Grade 4 and lives on the streets of Raisethorpe CBD, said poverty and family breakdown put him on the streets.

“I would rather be placed at a shelter than to be taken back home. At least I get to eat here ...” said Nandu. For more info call 033 345 2970.

— Supplied

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