A week ago, this Blog noted that participants from The Night Shelter and Somerset West Round Table 31 would be spending the night out in the cold, in solidarity with those who have no choice but to live on streets. This effort was aimed at raising Awareness of The Night Shelter, as well as practical support.
It is with pleasure that we offer our sincere thanks to the Volunteers from Table, Manuka Restaurant and you, our local residents. This event raised R2160-00 in financial support, and The Night Shelter received 4 crates of grocery donations and 130kg of clothing.
In addition, The Shelter also sold R550-00 worth of Vouchers as part of our Give Responsibly efforts.
The Night Shelter is establishing an onsite library!
The brainchild of our Administrator, Nazleah, this project celebrates exactly those community relationships which enable the Night Shelter to continue to operate: an informal collaborative effort between the Somerset West Library and The Shelter.
The Somerset West Library not only provided the much needed advice we required in order to set up, but also donated boxes of books! Our huge thanks to Library staff for their input.
The Shelter is now in need of a suitable cupboard in which to house the books. A unit with glass doors would be ideal. We would also appeal to the general public and local churches for further book and bible donations. Please contact Nazleah on 021 851 4984 for further details or to find out how you might get involved and/or assist.
It was last year December (2011) that I ended up on the streets of Somerset-West.
After all my resources were diminished, via so-called friends, I was left all on my own behind the Somerset-West Pick n Pay. A few street folk approached me asking the normal: either a cigarette or something to eat. I didn’t have any. I managed to get into one of the holes under the bridge, which in turn would be home for at least 2 months. I was hungry and cold – but to proud to ask anything from any one. At night when no-one looked, I would go and look for food at the bins of the retail stores.
Later I became friends with some of the street people and I found myself in a typical “survivor style” way of life. It involved various things we had to do in order to survive, of which I’m not going to mention a thing about, because in some instances we had to step over the confines of the law.
Drug abuse and reckless behavior was at the order of the day and deep down within me I felt that I should not get used to living like this. Every now and then the City of Cape Town’s Law Enforcement officers would confiscate our bedding, clothing and other valuable items. I was outraged.
I told my so-called brother and sisters that we must organize a quasi-military formation. They obviously didn’t know anything I was talking about. After I explained to them what I meant in the most graphic of detail, they understood and were amazed. So I worked out an attack formation strategy for the next time my brothers and I met with Law Enforcement or any other enforcement agency. That night I sat on the Lourensrivier Bridge and felt mighty and powerful even though I had nothing. I started envisioning myself to be an ancient Khoisan King or something. And I was drugged almost to the brink of an overdose. I was everyone’s favorite and every street person gave me something of the little they accumulated during the day. After a while it was compulsory to supply ‘the King’.
Whilst sitting there on that bridge watching the water run under the bridge, I suddenly woke up. Yes many of you that are reading this story may think, “there goes the outer body experience”. I could not put my finger on it but there I was looking at myself. I could see how I lead these kids on the street to their destruction. How I empowered them in a sense where by they’ll use their daily fed aggression. I saw how many of them go to jail for crimes I commanded them to do.
I went to sleep in my little hole not more than one meter in diameter.
The following morning I made my way to the Heldervalley Community Forum. Without any slumber they immediately contacted the Somerset-West Night Shelter and organized a meeting with them. I was excited and I knew that soon I’ll be back on track. During that week the members of my so-called organization were worried about me, asking me strange questions, like “are you leaving us?”. I did not answer any of it.
The Friday morning Jo Swart (Chairperson of the Night Shelter) and her colleague came to the HCF and had a long meeting with Ernst Johannes and others. I was waiting in anticipation and was at one point negative in a sense, thinking that they may not accept me because of my vicious and dark background.
The meeting finished and the two ladies stepped out of the board and like a dog that waits patiently and with those wanting eyes, I heard, “come Xavier lets go book you in”. At the time I fought the tears with everything within me because I was overwhelmed with joy and sadness. More joy.
At the office of the Night Shelter I could not fight it any longer, the tears started to role freely from my emotionless stare. I officially became the child of my family tree to be booked into a Night Shelter. It angered me, I asked the question: why have my family for saken me?. But then after all the paper work was done the onus was now upon me to adapt to my new environment.
When those first droplets of hot water from an actual shower touched my head for the first time in three months, the feeling was beyond my comprehension.
It took me about 15minutes to finish a plate cooked food because I did not want to finish it, it was so tasty.
As night time neared, lights off was announced, and I was tucked away in bed like it was supposed to be.
The 1st night I could not actually sleep, because I thought to myself: And this haven was here all the time whilst I’m on the brink of organizing people to make war with the authorities.
I decided that I’m going to restore myself first and then when I can stand on my own legs, I’ll scout out to try and help the brotherhood come to their senses. I felt human again and wasn’t shy for anyone who might have known me prior to my depletion.
I decided to work on the foundations of once again establishing a publication of my own. “Who are we to be bold, beautiful, well mannered and sought after, for it is not that we are inadequate, just in itself we can be or are powerful beyond measure”.
I don’t know who said these words, but at the Night Shelter I learned what it is to return to oneself, to be humble again.
To be continued…