Former homeless Danny Oosthuizen, ambassador for The Dignity Project, social activist and HIV/TB counselor, overlooks Greenmarket Square as he reflects on three years of driving the initiative. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
Cape Town - When the Cape Argus embarked on the Dignity Project in 2016, the goal was to change the perceptions of the citizens of Cape Town towards the homeless, by highlighting their plight and their stories in a dignified way.

Now #TheDignityProject celebrates its third anniversary.

The project allowed readers an insight into the lives and struggles of the homeless thanks to our ambassador and columnist Danny Oosthuizen.

“The Dignity Project started under the editorship of my predecessor Gasant Abarder with the assistance of then Live Editor Lance Witten,” said Cape Argus editor Aziz Hartley.

“Celebrating three years is a milestone. We are very proud of this project as it resonates strongly with what we stand for as a newspaper: being in touch with what happens in our communities.”

Through the project, readers were introduced to Oosthuizen, who would have the daily journal of his life on the streets published in the Cape Argus.

“On Monday, April 11, 2016, I went from Danny the homeless guy to Danny from the Cape Argus. On this day I made news as the first homeless person who wrote the front page of a paper in his very own words.

“And this was the first day of the Dignity Project. What was meant to be a 15-day awareness campaign went on to its 1 095 day,” Oosthuizen said.

When Abarder started the project, he revealed that the idea for the project started after he visited the Service Dining Rooms in November that year, to address a group of homeless people and talk to them about his daily routine. He returned with an idea; an idea that would flourish and eventually be called #TheDignityProject.

“Coming from the streets, having to enter a building filled with the history of very iconic and famous journalists was intimidating.

“I shared office space with legendary writers who were very supportive of me taking into consideration I had never done any writing projects, nor did I have a journalistic background,” Oosthuizen said.

Hartley said: “We salute Danny Oosthuizen, who has been the face of the project. We admire his passion and determination to be a voice for the homeless people and to hold the authorities to account.”

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