The Cape Argus has launched a new collaborative editorial initiative called #TheDignityProject – a 15-part daily series about the homeless people of Cape Town. Homeless person Danny Oosthuizen will be writing a daily column for the duration of the project. Read the 14th entry in Danny’s Diary below ...
Cape Town - People ask me how this all happened. How did I manage to write the lead story on the front page of the Cape Argus?
I was at the Service Dining Rooms one morning, having something to eat. The next moment this guy walks in. His presence filled the whole room.
I made an observation and told my friend: “He looks like he could be Keanu Reeves’s brother”, to which he replied “and I can so have him for lunch!”
Read more: What is #TheDignityProject?
Turned out this man was none other that Lance Witten, the Cape Argus guy. And the walls came up. Reporters are a no-go. “What’s he snooping around for?”
The amazing thing about Lance is his humanity. How comfortable he was among us. Almost like he was one of us.
The fact that he smokes Camel in a way further boosted his popularity as we can’t afford the brand, and he so generously gave one here and there. LOL!
The thing with Lance is, he listens. And he remembers word for word what one tells him. He showed a real interest in us. And people started to open up. Trust. No bulls**t story. We were going to give him truth. For what’s it worth.
I was to do a daily diary. I ran from one library to another to write my stuff as one only gets a certain time.
I was called to the Argus office where I met Gasant Abarder (no pressure!). Now bear in mind I look street, smell street, and here I am. Between these people! They made me feel so at home. I was given a desk in the huge open-plan office, PC, notebook and pen. Thank heaven for spellcheck! (Jade Otto, the news editor, will award me with “the worst speller in the history of the Argus” prize.)
They have a shower here. All white and big enough to fit 20 people. And the water… HOT! Heaven! The staff here are all super nice. I got clothing, I got fed. I felt the love… And these days I smell like Roberto Cavalli (thanks Gasant!)
Then my letter to the people of Cape Town. I will never forget the security guard: “My friend, I think you make trouble. Your face on front of paper. Hau!”
People stop me on the street to chat. I received e-mails from near and far. My Facebook page is very responsive.
I stood in a rainstorm with none other than Suzanne Ackerman-Berman, looking at a community garden in town!
The public was great. Awesome support. People mailed me their stories. There was this intense connection. I had people as far as Canada mailing me. Yes people, we’re history in the making.
* To engage with Danny, e-mail him at [email protected]