Hope for the homeless

2018-05-01 06:00

A local job creation programme is giving homeless people a chance to a decent life.

Through Streetscapes, homeless people in the Woodstock area get the opportunity to tend gardens in the city and sell the produce they grow for a monthly income.

Streetscapes is the brainchild of community activist Abigail Abrahams and non-profit organisation Khulisa. The two joined forces in a bid to come up with a solution to unemployment among homeless people in Woodstock. Abrahams, social officer of the Woodstock Improvement District (WID), says the unemployed homeless people motivated her to help them. She approached Khulisa, and Streetscapes was introduced.

According to the programme’s staff, they handle and oversee the money and pay it directly into the workers’ bank accounts.

According to Jesse Laitinen, a representative of the initiative, the system works well. “We have had great success rates in the past. After six months of earning R2400 per month, 77% of the beneficiaries moved off the streets and 68% addressed their dependency on alcohol or drugs,” she says.

The high success rate is encouraging for three candidates 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 around the Woodstock area.

Ndhlovu describes this as ideal as she sleeps on the streets of 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.

Meanwhile, Luyando says he is the perfect candidate for the project and is eager to get back on his feet. He has been homeless for two years and is positive that the programme will provide him with the opportunity he so desperately needs to rebuild his life.

The final candidate in the project is just as enthusiastic to generate income with his own two hands. Ndayi worked for a company for nine years but then lost his job and shortly thereafter became homeless. At the age of 48, the excitement about restarting his career is palpable. He is particularly excited to be in possession of an ID and bank
account.

They will be given support, training and counselling throughout the duration of the project and will be regularly monitored. “I’m very excited to see this programme up and running,” says Abrahams.

She adds 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, and volunteers are needed to assist the workers in any capacity they are able. V Individuals and businesses willing and able to assist can email Abrahams at abigail@wid.co.za.

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