Gerome has the sweetest smile, and was so willing to chat to me while he waited in the queue to clean himself.
I asked him if there was anything that he wanted to share with people who watch his video, and he used the time to share his aspirations. As he spoke, I was reminded that we were all children once, with grand dreams and delightful optimism.
Every morning, I come in to work and greet the queue of people waiting for their turn to clean themselves. Most of them have been waiting in line since about 07h00 for the gates to open. We used to offer showers, and now we do bucket washes, in line with the Cape Town water restrictions.
It reminds me to be grateful for the things we often take for granted (because we do all have to be reminded sometimes).
The people in line have become used to me, and are much happier to chat with me a bit, because they have seen me regularly and so I’ve begun chatting with them. My purpose (and I explain this to them whenever I ask permission to film them for YouTube) is to help you to understand a little more about the people who live on the street. To help you realise that, apart from circumstance, there are so many similarities in our dreams, desires, and so on.
If you have any honest (but respectful) questions that you’d like me to ask, comment below.
Abdul was sitting in queue for the showers when I invited people to chat with me. I asked Abdul “What is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you”. I expected him to talk about something in his childhood, or about something his wife had done for him, but the answer I received was unexpected, and really touching. Watch his short interview here:
Pati is one of the clients of The Carpenter’s Shop who I met through our Feed5000 Campaign.
Pati has me somewhat in awe academically. He was accepted into the Master’s program at UWC to study Biblical Theology, and wrote his dissertation on the central and peripheral themes and characters of the Bible. He didn’t complete his Masters, but now spends much of his time in the library and at the beach (because, balance!).
Watch his story here:
In an effort to help our existing and potential supporters engage in a controlled way, we’ve been taking little video snippets of life at The Carpenter’s Shop – interviewing the clients of ours who are happy to be on social media, and sharing these videos here and on YouTube.
As I engage more with our clients and residents, I’m learning how few differences there are between us all. At heart, we have the same needs.. it’s just our circumstances (and our means of survival) that vary for the most part.
We are so pleased for Nathan, a resident of Geoff Burton House who enjoys poetry and participates in an off-site program called Life-Righting, where he writes about his life and experiences and observations in prose and poetry.
Why so pleased? Well, Nathan prose has recently been accepted for publication in the Life Righting Anthology!
Nathan shares some of his other writing with us below.
I am often reminded of the innocence of my childhood days
and my later rude awakening to the realities of the world in which we live.
The turbulence of the eighties in apartheid South Africa and my introduction to marijuana or dagga during my first year of high school.
That first experimentation flung open wide the doors to later and more intense addiction.
Harder substances infiltrated our very naïve society as our nation transformed with the death of political segregation and the birth of democracy in our beloved country.
My parents where committed to raising us, my sisters and I to be respectful members of our community ,yet somehow in the turmoil of growing up, high school and the rebellious teenage years, I got lost. Caught up in the confusion and frustration of my outspoken free spiritedness , I allowed myself too often to be easily influenced.
The failure of my marriage in my mid-twenties plunged me into a downward spiral rendering me emotionally vulnerable and setting the stage for extensive drug abuse. The year was 1994.
Twelve years later, I would wash out onto the street, an exiled and homeless drug addict. Bound in this lifestyle of addiction I would live on the streets of Muizenberg for five years, until a near fatal accident shook me to my senses in the year 2010.
It had become clear to me that the road that I was traveling could and would end in one of three destinations marked out in bold print which read, Death, Prison, Asylum.
Reflecting on those years, I realize now that apart from the grace of God, I could very easily have ended up on one of those pathways. The echo of that old negro spiritual, free at last, free at last,still resonates as I witness the many suffering in active substance addiction.
Over the years my dignity and self respect has been restored and I am thankful also, though challenging as it has been, for the many safe houses, havens or shelters.
Places such as The Carpenter’s Shop provide an opportunity for many to again take on the responsibility of life. Having a bed to sleep in, a warm meal and a hot shower is a blessing when you have not had it for sometime.
So as my journey continues, I am hopeful that the small ways in which I can share and encourage others struggling in addiction, will be the seeds sown that will eventually take root and flourish, producing a bountiful harvest as one life story touches another life , as we all intensify the offensive in our battle against our common foe, drug addiction and homelessness.
Help us to help the homeless and vulnerable people in Cape Town – Get engaged in volunteering, contributing any second-hand items/toiletries or donating
“What counts in life is not the mere fact
that we have lived. It is what difference we
have made to the lives of others that will
determine the significance of the life we lead.”