Work with the city's street community
Working with the city's street dwellers means a manifold of realities.
Our streets are dirty and conditions are extremely tough. Most of our street community is addicted to opioid based drugs. Many of them have families or communities who would welcome them home if they were able to kick their drug habit and the criminal activities associated with said habits. It's a tough job and one that requires having a consistently soft heart despite facing many disappointments and disillusionments along the way.
However, we also meet some of the most beautiful people. People who appreciate each act of kindness and generosity. People who are desperate to be rescued and only need a hand to help.
We feel that we are called to be those hands. And what a privilege to share the love of Jesus with those we meet.
At present, we have regular food drop-offs around the city, mostly from car boots. While the food is always appreciated, the street ministry team has formed friendships and relationships with those they've encountered and this has led to meaningful impact in the following areas:
- helping with substance abuse and treatment for said addictions
- helping the homeless community receive medical care at a reputable clinic with a doctor who treats each patient with dignity
- helping pregnant women who live and make a living on the streets receive pre and post natal care for their babies
- working with the family of willing homeless individuals so that a home-coming can be orchestrated and successful.
- running a second-hand clothing store where the homeless community can purchase clothing at a nominal fee but have the dignity of choice
- running education programmes in schools and churches to share our knowledge about this sector of society and equip others to join our work
If you realise that once upon a time, each person living on the streets was once a child who was loved and welcomed into the world as an innocent baby, then you will also know that today, they have a Father in heaven who loves them and wants them to be made whole. LIFE CHANGER aims to change lives of those living on the streets or vulnerable to the streets, one person at a time.
The "LIFE BOAT" Project
a strong, seaworthy boat kept in readiness on shore for use in rescuing people in danger of drowning
one of the small boats carried by a ship for use if the ship must be abandoned
The LIFE BOAT project is one that springs from the belief that a hand-out never really buys justice, but rather pays for injustice. We want to allow our clients the opportunity to accept our hand-up instead.
But how do you do that?
A free meal is wonderful, but we've found that the people who live on the streets of Pietermaritzburg are starved of friendship, family, basic services and connection long before they are starved of food. There is no blue print or prior history of anything of this sort happening in Pietermaritzburg.
So we needed a place where we could feed the homeless, afford them the opportunity to buy clothing they've chosen themselves and try it on, receive a hair cut, or an eye test, or a computer lesson, or medical assistance. With the help of Selgro Spa in the centre of town, we have a premises which will allow us the opportunity to meet the needs of the most vulnerable members in our community.
Hence the LIFE BOAT. A life boat is used as a vessel to get a person from the sinking ship to dry land. This building will be a life boat, but the goal is dry land (i.e. independence, sobriety, dignity, hope, connectedness.)
Through our voucher system, which will be given to the men and women on the street by members of our community such as yourself, the client has an opportunity to choose what to spend the voucher on: an item of clothing, a meal or a service. There will also be a way for the client to buy a voucher.
The LIFE BOAT will be our first point of contact with many members of the homeless community. There will be sit down meal time, Bible study and prayer time, casual conversation and communal connection time. From this, we will be able to channel them to point two and three which will be more therapeutic and intentional for their rehabilitation and re-establishment as a valued member of our society.
As one of our clients recently commented on this idea: "You mean, there will be a place in the city where I will be treated like a human being for a few hours?"
This premises is in the centre of town and made possible through a partnership with Selgro Spar. It truly is an answer to prayer and the start of great things to come.
Above - Example of Front and back of the LIFE BOAT voucher.