Danny's Diary: Cold discomfort for the homeless
Boy, did we have wind the past couple of days. It was very challenging to try to sleep at night.
You can at times actually hear it blow towards you. Then it stops. Just like that. Silence. Then you hear it from a distance - coming closer and closer. When it hits you there is very little you can do. Lie low. If your stuff is not properly secured, it will be blown away.
We have not as yet received any information on this year’s winter readiness programme. If winter arrives early this year, I wonder if they will take in people earlier.
The City, with various shelters and other NGOs, did a tremendous job last year. A few years ago it was easy to establish who the real homeless people were. Today the lines are blurred. There are those who have been released from correctional services, unable to go home to their families and they end up on the streets in the city.
At the moment there are a few elements who operate in the Company’s Garden at night, robbing people at knifepoint. They even take chances with the homeless. De Waal Park is yet again turning into a hot spot for crime. Another no-go area at night is the Parade. There was a time when you could buy a coffee for R5 or a chip roll for R9. Go there now at night and it would be like filling in an application form to be robbed in the dark.
We had our fair share of challenges, but it was never as dangerous as now. To think that in our world-class city there are areas one does not dare walk. I used to walk everywhere. Not any more. My “stalker” was caught with an unlicensed firearm and has apparently being locked up.
I am worried about the homeless people who suffer from a medical condition but do not take any medication for it. It is becoming dire. There is a network called Canpud that escorts people to hospital and clinics to make sure they get treatment and follow-ups. HIV, TB and Hep C are the main issues here.
Canpud is also raising awareness of harm reduction implementation. Drug addicts using syringes now receive counselling, clean needles and information on the Methadone Project that replaces the use of heroin.
This project is run by the TB/HIV Association. It is in line with the recommendations of UN Drug Policy guidelines. The results are staggering and lives are changing for the better. People become functional, get work opportunities, and some even move back home.
It is a journey. There is no quick fix. Those who would like to have more info on this project can email [email protected]
* Danny Oosthuizen is the #TheDignityProject ambassador. In his weekly daily column for the Cape Argus, he tackles the struggles homeless people face. Connect with Danny on Facebook and on Twitter @masekind3213 or via email: [email protected]
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.