Drive to rehome the homeless and restore their dignity in the city
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Cape Town - Becoming homeless was never part of the plan for Caren Rhoode, 51, but it’s been 10 years since she has been on the streets.
Her story is one of many who, in the face of poverty and social inequality, are left with no other option but a life of homelessness.
In an effort to further its cause to assist in the dignified re-homing of homeless people in Cape Town, The Rehoming Collective and OUR HOUSE have, together with the homeless activist collective, Strandfontein Homeless Action Coalition (SHAC), launched its Mandela Month “Re-homing the Homeless” challenge, to assist Rhoode and many others.
Carlos Mesquita, the founder of The Re-homing Collective, has invited the public to donate R67 towards their initiative.
Recording the lived experiences of 67 homeless people, including that of Rhoode, the collective hopes to reduce and eventually eradicate chronic homelessness.
Rhoode said she never dreamed she’d become homeless.
“I ended up in the Gardens (Company’s Garden), that’s when I experienced real life for the very first time.
“I saw how people were treated like animals, law enforcement would abuse the elderly.
“They would come in in the middle of the night, especially on a rainy night and take out cardboard which served as a mattress, and our plastic, which served as our roof.
“Living on the street has made me a stronger person, but it has also broken me emotionally.”
Aisha Sheik, 65, was adopted when she was a baby, and has been homeless since she was about 16 years old.
She said the people who adopted her physically abused her, which forced her to leave.
“The people who adopted me… I’ve been beaten, kicked, booted, everything. There was no love and I had to run away.
“I’ve been on the streets ever since. Home Affairs let me down, they keep asking where I’m from, thinking I’m (from) Ethiopia. I’ve lost hope in the system,” she said.
The Re-homing Collective is focused on a range of measures to assist people in rebuilding their lives.
“Providing a home, providing access to employment, providing access to rehabilitation and psycho-social services, in that order,” the organisation said, listing its aims.
“We believe giving a homeless person a dignified roof over their head and giving them agency to make choices with regards their own situation without judgement is the way to solve chronic homelessness.”
Mesquita, who was also previously homeless, said to achieve the priorities they need the public’s help.
“Having been homeless myself, I know how too often the bureaucracy gets in the way of staining the intended outcomes.
“Our House is the first of The Re-homing Collective's new model for accommodating the homeless in an independent living space with dignity.
“The Strandfontein Homeless Action Coalition (SHAC) is where it all started when a group of us, infuriated by Strandfontein, started the advocacy committee, SHAC, and all three components work hand in hand.
“We are also finalising the Homeless Action Coalition which is the coming together of the old sector organisation, SPF (Street People’s Forum) and SHAC, which will mean the organisation representing the sector will for the first time ever, have not only homeless people’s voices but 50% of the board will be from the homeless and re-homed community,” he said.
For more information or to donate, contact Mesquita via email: [email protected]