SACSC give back

On Thursday 2 June 2016, the KZN chapter of the South African Council of Shopping Centres met for their annual networking evening.  As they have done in the past they have asked their members to give something back to charity.  This year they chose to give stationery.  This stationery is currently being distributed to underprivileged schools and pre-primaries in and around Durban.  Thank you for your support and getting involved in making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. Below is a list of what was collected.

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Stationary donation
186 Large stationary packs
21 Small packs
78 college Excercise Books
15 A4 Exam pads
13 A4 counter books
22 A5 Notebooks
6 Reams of A4 paper
19 Small Notebooks
17 Boxes of crayons
18 Boxes of coloured pencils
5 Jumbo colouring-in books
20 Pritt glue sticks
72 Erazers
37 Pencil sharpeners
105 Rulers
277 Pencils
3 A5 exam pads
25 Hilighters
16 Permanent Markers
12 Packs Post-it flags
1 Pack fibre tipped pens
2 Boxes giant gem clips
4 Calculators
3 Boxes paper clips
3 Post it notes
4 Correction tape
1 Maths drawing insturments
2 A5 Flip files
1 A4 Flip file
15 A5 Excercise Books
13 A4 Manuscript Books
6 Scissors
1 Pack A4 Kraft covers
549 Pens
4 Boxes of staples

Night Shelter visitation

Last night (25 February 2016), we joined the Isinkwa SeTheku team in going out to the night shelters to visit with the residents.

Isinkwa SeTheku is a not-for-profit that operates to bring hope to the homeless of our city.  Every Thursday night they meet and divide into teams that go to various shelters and visit the guys on the streets.  They visit the best and the worst of shelters to take food and a listening ear to those in need.  They also do a potjie day once a month to feed the people living on the street.

I had the privilege of going to a very new shelter in Durban called Haven of Hope.  It has only been operating for about 5/6 months but has put some really good things in place that will make it a safe place for people in need to stay.  They have 2 stories – one for males and one for females. Everything is very clean and neat and they have very strict rules around hygiene of  the residents and cleanliness of the building.  Well done to the Family trust that has seen the need and done something about it!

If you are ever at a loss for something to do on a Thursday night, i would recommend joining the Isinkwa SeTheku team in visiting the less fortunate of our city.  They meet at the St Paul’s Anglican Church on Monty Naiker Street at 6:45pm.

Business Breakfast

6 November 2015 saw 70 business people from the Durban area come together in the Luthuli Hall (City Hall) to challenge mindsets around business and giving to the needy of our society.  A collaboration between Nation Builder, Grace aid and ourselves resulted in this business altering breakfast. Francios van Niekerk of the Mertech group was our main speaker. Francios story of how God helped him turn a bankrupt business in to a multimillion rand group of businesses is inspiring to say the least. We also had a panel of local business people, including Nick Nzama, Brad Wills and Leigh-Anne Aitken who added so much value as their stories are based in Durban.  Abonga Nkwelo was our brilliant MC and managed to keep things flowing incredibly well.  Breakfast was yummy and plentiful, thanks to Highway Function Hire.  A BIG thank you to eThekwini Municipality for the use of the Luthuli Hall.  It was a perfect venue and was a beautiful representation of Business, Government and the Social sector working together to see Durban reach its potential.

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Potjie Competition 2015

This Heritage Day on 24 September 2015, the annual We are Durban Potjie Competition was held in association with the Buyisithemba GD Community Development Organisation in KwaMashu, Section D.  The Competition was organized by We are Durban and participants were all volunteers, who graciously gave up their Public Holiday to join us in celebrating our Heritage together.  It was a beautiful sunny day and an incredible success, which we look forward to repeating each year!

 

We had 19 volunteer teams sign up to cook their favourite potjie recipes – even Buyisithemba entered a team and cooked a delicious range of traditional food.  Everyone brought their own ingredients and equipment, and had approximately 3 hours to cook their potjies.  A team of judges, including We are Durban board members and the local Ward Councillors, tasted a portion from each team and decided on the top 3 winning teams.  Teams were given extra points if they catered to the heritage theme – and we had beautiful dishes being served up!

 

Once all our potjies were cooked, the food was shared out with members of the local community who are part of Buyisithemba’s feeding scheme. We fed about 250 people on the day, with plenty food left over for second helpings.  We had plenty of extra pap and rice, as well as extra chicken curry, thanks to generous donations given to We are Durban specifically for the event.

 

Prizes were given to teams in 1st, 2nd and 3rd place for the best potjies, and we were privileged to be able to give out such beautiful prizes – engraved wooden spoons, brand new cookbooks donated by Bargain Books in Westwood, lovely embroidered aprons donated by one of our amazing volunteers, and a variety of lovely donated goodies.

 

Buyisithemba were such incredible hosts on the day, treating all of us to entertainment, tea and snacks while we cooked, and a wonderful programme including an introduction to Buyisithemba and the work that they do in the community.  We were honoured to have the local Ward Councilors joined us for the day, as well as UKZN and some of the local youth who entertained us with a traditional dance. Buyisithemba also organized a mobile clinic to be present on the day for any elderly members of the community who required medical care.

 

Thank you so much to our amazing volunteers, sponsors and to Buyisithemba for joining together to make this event a huge success!  It was a truly fantastic way to build relationships with a Non-Profit that are doing phenomenal work in their community.

Loving the Lost Daughters

We are Durban marked Women’s Month this August by partnering with Red Light Anti-Human Trafficking and their Night Lights team.  This event was exclusively a Christian event, due to Red Light being a Christian organization.

 

On 27 August 2015, a group of about 30 volunteers from local churches spent the evening ministering to the women at risk in Windermere, Durban, with the Night Lights team providing training and guidance as to what to expect and how to minister to these women.

 

We went out into the streets in small groups, each with a trained Red Light team leader, and simply spent time chatting to the local women at risk, sharing a hot chocolate, and also lovely pamper goodies that were kindly donated by Unilever.   As the Night Lights team regularly minister to these women, they know many of them and have established relationships in an incredible way.  We were able to have in-depth conversations with many of the women, often getting an opportunity to pray for them.  Mostly, we just enjoyed each other’s company – it was amazing to see how naturally conversation flowed and how eager the ladies were to chat and enjoy the break in their evening.

 

Our volunteers shared how they were amazed by how much joy they experienced, but of course how sad these ladies’ stories are and how so many of them feel they have no other option for supporting themselves and their families financially.  Our event ended off with many volunteers signing up to partner with Red Light in their ongoing ministry.

 

We would like to extend a huge thank you to our volunteers and to Red Light for making this event possible, and for giving up their time to love those who are so often forgotten.

Mandela Day: Warrior Race 2015

This year we had 34 participants join us for the 2015 Warrior Race at Sugar Rush Ballito.  What an awesome event!  Perfect weather, plenty of mud, challenging obstacles, and excellent comradery from mates racing together for a good cause.

We had warriors racing in each of the race categories: Rookie, Commando and Black Ops Elite.  Warriors used the opportunity to raise sponsorships for We are Durban: approximately R11 700 was raised!

We were blessed to be able to give out energy powder sachets and water bottles to our racers, which were kindly donated by NATIVA. Beautifully branded shirts and vests were also donated by Jam Clothing for each of our participants making sure we all looked like a team. We sent everyone home with a tube of face wash donated by Unilever, to help them feel human again after the race.

We’d like to say a huge THANK YOU to all of our sponsors and participants who contributed to this event being a huge success!

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Response to Xenophobic attacks

With the world watching Durban, it was wonderful to be a part of the positive outpouring of love and care for those displaced due to the xenophobic violence in our city.  Thank you to everyone who contributed. In the end we were able to take a large portion of goods to 3 different sets of people.

One group was a Congolese community that went into hiding shortly after the attacks began. The second group was housed a Durban Christian Centre, and were women and children who out of fear left all they had and ran to the church for help.  The third was the refugee camps set up by the Red Cross that have been caring for about 6500 displaced people in 5 different camps across eThekwini.

R 16 500.00 was donated into our bank account with the reference of “Xeno”.  We called Red Cross to find out what was needed in the camps and we also paid a camp a visit and found out from the moms what they needed for their babies. Here is the list of things that went out and what was bought with the money that was donated into our bank account;

 

DETAILS AMOUNT RECEIVED FROM DONATED TO
34 x Nestum 250g R 576,30 Bought from Dischem Toti Isipingo Shelter
10 x Future Life for kids 500g R 307,50 Bought from Dischem Toti Isipingo Shelter
1 x Baby wipes R 57,50 Bought from Dischem Toti Isipingo Shelter
12 x plastic spoons R 25,90 Bought from Dischem Toti Isipingo Shelter
2 x Lactogen 1.8kg R 350,00 Bought from Dischem Toti Isipingo Shelter
10 x Nappies R 1 040,00 Bought from Dischem Toti Isipingo Shelter
7 x baby bottles R 222,65 Bought from Dischem Toti Isipingo Shelter
13 x Infacare 108kg R 2 339,35 Bought from Dischem Toti Isipingo Shelter
366 x toothbrushes R 4 507,90 Bought from Dischem La Luica Red Cross
260 x Bars of 100g soap R 1 299,35 Bought from Pick ‘n Pay Red Cross
326 x Toothpaste R 2 389,93 Bought from Pick ‘n Pay Red Cross
92 x Tooth brushes R 367,54 Bought from Pick ‘n Pay Red Cross
88 x Sanitary pads (10s) R 787,60 Bought from Pick ‘n Pay Red Cross
21 x nappies R 2 184,00 Bought from Dischem La Lucia Red Cross
125 x Family disaster relief buckets City Hope Congolese community
5 x 25kg soya mince Tekwini Foods DCC & Congolese community
5 x 25kg soup Tekwini Foods DCC & Congolese community
5 x 25kg juice mix Tekwini Foods DCC & Congolese community
Groceries (R1 100.00) ZaPOP (Pty) Ltd Isipingo Shelter
Groceries (R2 000.00) Khanyisa Special needs School Red Cross
Clothes and soft toys (R6 000.00) Sarah and Martin Cordner Red Cross
500 x blankets SA Homeloans DCC
416 x Soap (Ponds and Geisha) Unilever Red Cross
72 x Vaseline Unilever Red Cross
768 x Shampoo Unilever Red Cross
50 x Glen tea Unilever Red Cross
36 x Toothpaste Unilever Red Cross
30x Razors Unilever Red Cross

 

THANK YOU!

Bucket Drive Distribution

Each year we assist Olive Tree Church with their annual Bucket Drive to distribute groceries to various organisations and people in need.  This year we made sure that we were uplifting communities in need and not reinforcing dependence and entitlement by focusing on the elderly and child headed households.

We were able to distribute 350 grocery buckets to the following organisations: Inchanga, Bothas Hill, Wangu, Burlington and Umgeni View.  We were also able to fill 100 buckets with invaluable stationary for 4 creches in the Wangu community.

Below is an extract from one of the gentleman who joined us for the distribution, showing that often it’s not about what we give but the relationship of giving that changes our hearts.

 

“I was very moved with this time spent in distributing the buckets to the identified poor households. It was my first time,and I wanted to try and make a small difference to seeing the joy that these buckets would bring to poor households. I knew it would be an emotionally tough experience,and asked God to try and prepare me.

Well,

The first bucket we delivered in Inchanga,it was to a man who was 40 years old,and had been alienated and outcast by his family,as he had AIDS,no access to antiretrivirals. When he opened the door,he stood lifeless having very little or no hope left to live for in his life,and when he realised the people at his door were messengers of GOD to bring joy and care to his life,his lifeless eyes were suddenly awoken,and he was so ALIVE,having HOPE for a joyous Christmas,and honestly,he was so thin,I don’t honestly knew when he last ate,or where his next meal would come from………..seeing this was too much for me emotionally,and I walked away with tears in my eyes,and looked up and asked God why must people suffer so,and counted how rich and blessed my life was

The experience taught me to appreciate that my life is so blessed with what God has so kindly provided for me,and that when I feel life is not treating me fairly,I must appreciate that there are people out in the world with much bigger worse problems.we take for granted our beautiful homes we come home to everyday of our lives,the provisions God has for us with the daily food we are so blessed to receive,and our families who love and care for each other.With God in our lives,we honestly want for nothing!”

Durban Dignity Day – Christmas Party

On the cloudy day of 7 December 2014 in town the winds of change where blowing in the streets around Dr Goonam Street, unsettling the rubbish left over from the night before’s party.
The volunteers from Nkosinati Project, We Are Durban and the GTI group were arriving!

There was a flurry of activity from the start. This will be the best Christmas party these guys have seen yet! (was the mindset for most), mixed with a hint of nerves for the outcome. Cool heads prevailed and everyone pulled together in the most glorious fashion. What a day, what an event, what a great bunch of human beings, to God be the glory!

The main objective of the day was have it titled as a Dignity Day for the homeless and destitute of the surrounding area in town. We hoped to achieve this by the most simple method of loving and serving the people as they came in.

A slow and steady stream trickled in and were soon served with a warm drink or juice and a biscuit. Next the men were treated to a shave and a wash and were offered the use of deodorant and body lotion to freshen up. This exercise brought about great relief and many smiles.

Once the ablutions were done, the people moved upstairs where the men & women were sent to separate rooms to pick out three items of clothing each.
This seemed like a simple idea at the time and due to the excellent prepping by the upstairs volunteers it went along smoothly.

For the grand finale, the good people were sent up to the next floor where they entered into a giant hall fitted with Christmas decorations and dozens of tables all done up as if a passing dignitary was due for lunch.
The 2 to 300 strong army of people were led to their seats where they were greeted by a table set with rolls and fruit for starters, before being served the main course by one of  many volunteer waiters running around ensuring that all had received their fair share of food and drink. All this while Christmas carols were playing in the background.

After much merriment at the tables with a few contented belches, the desserts were then served. Once everyone had received dessert they were lined up at the front of the hall to receive their gift hampers consisting of soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, vaseline and a face cloth. The bunch then sauntered off with full bellies, new outfits and refreshed appearances.

But the dignity in the day was not just found in the shaving, food and clothes. It was found in the serving and love of each volunteer who lent a hand in making the day such a success. The way that everything was prepared and the way that everything was served brought about the feeling that these people who came off the streets weren’t just a number in a line, but someone valued and special and that they had potential.

Well done to all involved.

Another Day Walking Durban

So another day to use my ten toes to walk the streets and pavements of Durban. It still has the effect of feeling as if I am more in contact with the city when I walk rather than driving. So with no specific destination in mind, but wanting to either move towards the city or beach area, I went down Argyle Road toward the beach. It being a sunny, blazing hot day, it was a slow walk.

On Argyle Road, by the bridge, I saw a security officer from the company which I believed to be in charge of chasing the beggars away from the robots. I also saw a guy (who I’ve seen at church and begging at the robots) go to a bin, lift it up and grab his hidden “I’m hungry, No Job, No shelter, Please give me some money” sign. He took his sign and headed towards Stamford Hill Road. I asked the security guard if he was going to go chase him away, but the guard said that’s not in their jurisdiction.

So where this security company patrols there will be no beggars, and where they do not patrol there will be beggars. They basically just chase the beggars from one area into another.

So I continued my walk towards the beach along Argyle Road, and just at the next robot I saw a guy named B. He looked like he was in discomfort and when I greeted him he just grunted and replied with a disinterested “hi”. He seemed sick and tired and weak. He said he begs so he can get shelter fee. He told me he does not do drugs, although I could see his lips where dark and cracked as drug smokers lips generally look. He was absent-mindedly nibbling on a sandwich (he didn’t look like he was enjoying it). I shared a bit of my story in the hope that it would make him feel a little at ease, but he replied with “so what do you actually want?” I said I just want to talk. He said he does not want to talk and added “in fact I was doing pretty well without you here… I don’t need to talk”. I got the message and slowly walked off after he got up and headed towards a pole where he had more food.

I’ve noticed a lot of the guys begging near the street robots always have a bag nearby, either by a pole or by a bin. There is generally food inside that they keep for later, and they still hold a board which says “Please help, no food, I’m hungry”. I’ve also noticed that they have a feel sorry for me facial expression when begging, but when you talk to them their face is generally fine or even better; they are actually slightly happy. Knowing that their need (Whoonga) has been met keeps them on the happy side, mostly due to the fact that food is not the problem. The main reason they are begging is because they need a daily fix and they want to sleep at the shelter. If they don’t make enough for shelter they just need enough for drugs. One guy told me “the more I make, the more I smoke”

So as I continued towards the beach in search of a more willing and open, homeless person, just by the robots near Sun Coast Casino and George Campbell, I met D. He was down in mood, spoke with a soft voice and lowly natured. He was basically crying without the tears. He told me how he doesn’t know how he landed up there, how he used to be a taxi driver and had a license. He also told me he just recently was able to get a temporary license but then he just lost it and how hard for him that was. He is from Port Shepstone, is an only child and his family home is non-existent, although he still has relatives that side. He would love to go back to Port Shepstone because he believes there at least he will not suffer like he does here in Durban. He said back home people always use to ask him to drive for them, and that what would probably happen again. He sleeps by the grassy open space near George Campbell and he pointed to the garden area in front of us and said “I sometimes sleep there”, and every now and then would exclaim “ey this is hard”. This guy needed help.

As we were talking a taxi driver drove past and made a comment to him, and he replied “hey you, you don’t even talk to me anymore but back then….” They knew each other and it confirmed for me that he really was a taxi driver. He said he was hungry, so I offered to go to Pick ‘n Pay and buy him something to eat. I got him a pie, chips and juice. When I came back he was stoked and said “wow you kept your word, thanks”. So while he was eating I started to share about myself being an ex-drug addict and having been homeless for 2 months. I told him this because it always seems that people open up more when you have been open. All this time he had not told me he smokes Whoonga, but I could see it. After I shared my story he was touched and said “to be honest I also smoke”. He told me that he eventually had no money to renew his professional driving permit (PDP) and the police kept arresting him and he would pay them off. Then his boss would ask for money and he would not tell him he paid the officer for not having PDP, as well as smoked portions of the day’s takings. So he ended up with no job and on the streets. He mentioned that he had a place to stay and when he lost his job as a taxi driver the guy he stayed with basically said they can’t stay together any more.

He told me a story of how he got arrested for a crime he had not committed. After 9 months in Westville Prison, one day he attended a court case where the judge was a white lady. The officers were speaking in Zulu about the judge, thinking she couldn’t hear them. To their surprise the white lady judge replied in Zulu “I can hear you, and you think I can’t release the prisoner?” The next day he was back in court and he was released.

He also told me how he sometimes wishes he can get arrested again just for two weeks so he can get past this painful withdrawal (Arrosta) process of not smoking. He mentioned how he has tried but if he goes two days without smoking Whoonga the pain is hectic. He told me once he got this medicine from the chemist which was supposed to help but it didn’t. He took this medicine for four days and on the fourth day was sweating and drank the whole bottle and the pain was too much to bear, so he came to the same robot at midnight and a lady gave him R20. He went straight to the dealer, smoked and the pain was gone. So he has tried and really wishes he can just be locked up somewhere until he is fine.

He also occasionally helps out at the booth market, and he mentioned that when he does he feels like a “real person” because when he goes there he has a bath and tries to make sure his clothes are on the clean-ish side. It makes him feel like a productive member of society. I encouraged him to continue working there on Sundays.

He was very grateful for our conversation and took in a lot I said, because when I had left he said he hopes to see me again and he prays he can also be helped like I was. I told him about the Methodist feeding scheme and Salvation Army and how he must try getting his temporary drivers again. He said he will and he will try find out more about this Methadone, which is apparently helping some get off Whoonga. We spoke about a few other things but his energy when I left him was up and he definitely had hope, which is something I like seeing.

With a sense of D’s story being very informative, and the sun’s scorching heat getting to me, I headed back to the office. On my way back I saw B sitting down by another set of robots and not in a good state; my heart cried out for him. He is probably going through withdrawal pains (Arosta).

On my way I bumped into a guy who I’ve briefly spoken to before. He begs at the robots and I had previously told him he must go to Salvation Army if he needs food, but I was in my car that day so I didn’t get to have a thorough conversation with him. I greeted him and asked him if he remembered me. He said “yes, you are the guy who drove past in your car and said I should go to Salvation Army”. So I asked “so did you?” He replied, “well, I’ve actually just come from there and they gave me a loaf of bread, and have told me to come back at specific times when they have the feeding scheme”

I was so glad that he had gone, and we spoke about a lot of stuff related to NGOs and ensuring people on the streets get help. He didn’t have the limp which he normally acts out when begging. He told me that he is not standing at his spot today because there is a “this fat policeman” who is on duty and if he finds him (a white young man) at the robots, he takes him and drops him off at Umlazi or Kwamashu and doesn’t care if they don’t have bus fare. He said this with a “sick and tired of it” attitude. He showed me some onions, tomatoes and potatoes he had just bought, and said that he is taking them back to his girlfriend/wife so she can cook them and feed their child. When he had previously told me about his wife and kid I did not believe him, although now I do. I could feel that he is worried about them, especially if he gets dropped off in Umlazi or Kwamashu.

Then he told me how he will come back and hustle for shelter fee later. He told me he smokes Whoonga, but his priority is his wife and kid, although he does smoke every day. Just like the other, he smokes to get rid of the pain. He really seemed as though he would like to stop Whoonga, but I didn’t get to ask him. I just saw a young father addicted to Whoonga wanting to provide for his family. I went from thinking of him as a big con-artist, because he acts like he is disabled so he can get food and shelter for his family and Whoonga for himself, but now I see him as someone who wants help but only knows this lifestyle as a means to survive. It was a brief interaction with him, and I would love to see him again and actually get more of his story.

That is something important: that is they (homeless people) all have stories and histories worth being heard or told, and I kind of wish I could start a reality show where they could come and share their stories and let us into their world. Hopefully with the intention of assisting them through a rehabilitation process; at least those who are earnestly wanting help.

It’s weird but there is something remarkable about the daily activities of homeless people. To a certain extent they are less worried then most “normal people”; they live off nothing basically while “normal people” live off abundance. With each of those who have been willing to share about themselves, as much as they are broken in certain areas they are also at peace with certain issues or circumstances.  Being homeless in Durban is not that bad. Stand by the robots and you’ll surely get fed. Otherwise there are lots of feeding schemes all around the city on different days. The real downfall is shelter fee and clean shelters. Those that I have spoken to complain that the shelters so are filthy that they would rather sleep on the streets (e.g. a park or outside some business steps or front door or some corner somewhere). Nonetheless, if you have no big dreams for yourself, being homeless in Durban is not that bad; it’s not the end of the world. Although if you do have dreams then it will be hard and a painful experience. Just my thoughts, who am I? After all I’m not homeless. Even though I was on the streets for 2 months, I was never really and truly homeless; my mom would have taken me back without even thinking about it. I chose to run away because of my own shame and guilt; I chose to use drugs over being obedient to my parents. Drugs never chose me, I chose them. So I landed up where I did, because of the choices I made. We are all faced with daily choices, and the choices we make daily shape our days and futures. Until next time, stay blessed.