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Human Stories

Adam’s Big Catch

Allan Bloom said, “Education is the movement from darkness to light.” In our client’s case, education has indeed enabled light to filter through the many cracks that now holds hope. *Adam found himself on the street and with the help of our fieldworker, Tasneem Hoosain-Fielies, he found place at the City’s Safe Space in the CBD. He embraced this opportunity and took initiative to complete a free life orientation course at an institution
in Green Point.

Eager to become more self-sustainable, he realised that with help, he could slowly carve out a different life for himself. Motivated by the knowledge he gained during the life orientation course, Adam discussed with Tasneem an opportunity that he wanted to pursue but which required him to obtain his seaman’s certificate and to pass a medical exam.
In life we often need to spend money in order to make money. Thanks to our generous donors we were able to pay for Adam’s seaman’s course and medical exam. He has since been shortlisted to work on the fishing trawlers at I & J.

He is determined to change his circumstances now that he has access to Souper Troopers’ support services and a safe place to sleep at night.

Your contributions, in kind and in cash, make the biggest difference in the lives of many of our homeless clients.   *not his real name

Demolishing Elderly Isolation

“My employer developed Alzheimer’s and was moved to a care facility, leaving me in the
house, now knowing what was to become of me.” This was an end that would soon see a
new beginning for *Shahieda thanks to the assistance of our fieldworker, Tasneem
Hoosain-Fielies.

After being a live-in domestic worker for many years, Shahieda’s future became very
uncertain when she learnt that the new property owners planned on demolishing the
home she was still living in. A pensioner, unable to even consider an alternative place or a
SASSA grant without an ID, Shahieda is caregiver to her two grandchildren. Isolation and
depression set in.

Tasneem’s tenacious spirit kept Shahieda going through these dark days and, with
Tasneem’s assistance, Shahieda was able work her way through what seemed
insurmountable challenges:

1.     Negotiations between Tasneem and the new landlord resulted in paid accommodation for
the next three months and sponsored accommodation after that.
2.     Shahieda’s granddaughter was gifted the necessary to attend a small matric farewell
event arranged by the students.
3.     Shahieda now receives a regular food parcel and regularly checks in with Tasneem.

 

The next step is securing long-term sustainability for Shahieda through the application for her ID, which is challenging since she cannot remember her ID number. We are hopeful that her daughter’s unabridged birth certificate will contain the necessary information needed to assist with her ID application, which will then enable her to apply for a SASSA Pension.

Prior to all of this *Shahieda cleaned various guesthouses in the Woodstock area. This unfortunately came to a standstill due to the impact of COVID on the tourism industry. She currently works as a domestic once a week and is eager to find more domestic work in the City centre. We urge anyone who may be able to provide *Shahieda with employment as a domestic to contact, Tasneem, at tasneem@soupertroopers.org. *not her real name

Homeless not Hopeless

Imagine losing the keys to your Mercedes Benz, and having them returned to you by two
homeless men in the CBD! Meet our clients Jack* and John*. Unable to afford rent, they
became homeless and sought refuge in the mountains above Cape Town.
The car owner was so grateful to them that he gave them a reward, which they used to
replenish stock for their small mobile vending business. COVID-19, however, was not as
generous. Lockdown meant they couldn’t trade and so their stock spoilt in storage, yet
another loss for two individuals who remained hopeful throughout. Their daily treks to the
soup kitchen in Mouille Point allowed them access to meals and the support services of
our fieldworker, Tasneem Hoosain-Fielies.  Together, they started navigating their journey
from homeless to hopeful.

Now, a few months later, we have helped Jack* and John* regain their dignity and get
their lives back on track through helping them get identity documents, a tent and sleeper
bags. (All of these had previously been illegally removed during a law enforcement
operation in the City.)

We are now assisting them with their vendor license application so that they may once
again become self-sustainable and work towards alternative accommodation. Jack* has
also been reunited with the man who taught him woodwork five years ago, who has since
employed him to assist in his business.

Dignified intervention and support services – the link to a hopeful future for both Jack*
and John*. *not their real names

64 – We ADVOCATE for THIS Number

Through all the confusion glimmers hope as little bits of truths are shared as he slips in, and out, of reality, or rather, a world that I can relate to. I find it easy to speak to him, and he is willing to accept my help.” The words of our fieldworker reflecting on one of the Humanity Hub’s clients, *Barry.
Severe mental illness is a very real concern on the streets and there is not enough advocacy and professional support services. There aren’t even sufficient institutions equipped with the necessary resources to adequately support persons living with mental illness who are not battling homelessness as well. Some of our clients’ mental illnesses have been induced by trauma (often trauma of living on the streets) or substance abuse, while for many their mental illness has been present since birth. These clients, our **‘64’s, are the most challenging cases where access to intervention and support services are almost insurmountable. How do we help restore the dignity of a mentally ill person living on the streets when the very Mental Health Care Act and Regulations that are meant to assist,
are the very reason why so many find themselves on the streets? We can assist clients who aren’t a danger to themselves or others. If they are, the alternative is
placement via form 64 that requires SAPS to transport such persons to the nearest hospital for admission, assessment, medication, and referral to a government psychiatric facility. Barry is one of the fortunate few. He has built a good rapport with our fieldworker thanks to previous intervention support. The objective now is to assist Barry with access to his medication and admission to a suitable psychiatric facility to aid him with reintegration into society once he has adjusted to his medication.

* not his real name
**named for the form that requires SAPS to deal with mentally ill people

A Birth that Gave Life to No Identity

We shared with you, Demolishing Elderly Isolation, the story of *Shahieda whose future became very uncertain when her live-in-domestic services were no longer needed, and the property she lived in was being demolished. Can you imagine finding yourself homeless at the age of 67?
Shahieda has experienced more than her fair share of trauma – we found out, through the process of trying to assist her with an ID, that she is NOT on the Home Affairs system, rendering her ineligible to access ANY support from SASSA.

She is a product of a system that many do not speak about. Adopted as a child, the records
inaccessible to her due to the nature and reasons for the adoption. Her welcome into this world was harsh, and now this continues to haunt her – this shadow of her past, preventing her from accessing a more sheltered future. It seems that her dignity was taken away from her long before she entered this world. How do we even begin to restore this imbalance? We reach out to our partners and we do not give up. We support our fieldworker, Tasneem Hoosain-Fielies as she continues to hold Shahieda’s hand and leave no stone unturned.
Watching Shahieda carry her few belongings as she walked through the gates of “Our House” last week marks the beginning of her restorative and dignified journey. Teamwork fuelled by passionate compassion. We now hope that the application for her daughter’s unabridged birth certificate will provide the key that will unlock access to government support services – a SASSA grant, for which a South African ID is needed.
*not her real name

Kicking addiction to the kerb

“Determination on the streets is quite important since being clean on the streets is one of the most difficult things to do,” says our fieldworker, Tasneem Hoosain-Fielies, with great pride, as she reflects on *Steve’s journey to sobriety at the age of 26. His life, like many of our clients’, has not been easy. Drugs became his comforter of choice, which soon turned into an addiction that helped numb him to his experiences on the streets. However, this changed when he reconnected with the mother of one of his children, thanks to the intervention services and support received at The Humanity Hub. *Steve has now been clean for 8 weeks! An enormous feat given that he still lives on the streets, where drugs are easily accessible and a popular coping mechanism. His journey is only starting now, and we know, without a doubt, that the road to sobriety is paved with many challenges, and things will get a lot harder before they get easier. Tasneem: “I am so proud of him, choosing to reach out for help, and opening up – slowly removing his armour as he allows himself to process the life that led to the streets.”
Sobriety is a daily choice. One that requires access to support in the form of someone to listen to your story and help you process, while you fight the many demons that plague your mind. Having a mental health condition, *Steve has added challenges, but we believe that given the right support, he can overcome the shadows of his past and look towards a dignified future.
The Humanity Hub has become the safe space for *Steve, a place where he can be, a place where he is heard, seen – and acknowledged as a person.
*not his real name