It is the last day of the Cape Argus’s collaborative editorial initiative called #TheDignityProject – a 15-part daily series about the homeless people of Cape Town. Homeless person Danny Oosthuizen has been writing a daily column for the duration of the project. Read the final entry in Danny’s Diary below ...
Cape Town - This morning I used two cigarettes as payment to borrow a stylish shirt for work. And I looked the corporate part – to the point where a cab driver ask me if I needed a taxi!
The public response has been phenomenal. For the past 15 days you took the time to engage by reading the stories of my fellow people, and my diary.
I never anticipated the volume of e-mails I received. People wishing me well. People telling me their own stories. Some had me in tears. The two worlds had a connection. Our humanity.
Also read: Danny to write weekly column for Cape Argus
These days some people know my face! I walk down the street and a car hoots and I hear “Jy! Mymasekind!”
What I realised was that many people want to help.
They just don’t know how to. In our messed-up economy and prices going up, people still make a plan.
I had insight of how we tend to come across. How we at times create this uneasiness between both worlds. Our hunger to return to the “real” society, our clumsiness to take part in engaging with the public. How our frustration can turn nasty at times, venting at the wrong people.
There is an unhealthy relationship between us and the CCID (Central City Improvement District), Law Enforcement, the police and Social Development. Mention these names and we hiss and spit. Yet Dean, and Pat (of the CCID) have helped many of us.
Due to certain by-laws we get into trouble with the CHID security officers, but they are only doing their job. We need to build respect . We are shooting the messenger here. The sun shines over rich and poor people alike…
Mamphela Ramphele wrote in her book Steering by the Stars: “The lives of young people not only tell us where society has come from, but also give us a glimpse into the future.”
And I see a future…
I am horrified by the news of Suzette Little’s hijacking. She has done so much for the homeless in the past, so it’s like they shot a family member.
The dynamics of people living on the street are complex. We belong. Never mind whether you’re an addict, sex worker, have a criminal record, straight or gay, black or white. Our fights can be spectacular but, when need be, we stand united.
We are part of your extended family (the black sheep, LOL!) and all we need is a warm smile and a kind word (ok! ok! Any small change?!)
My diary is not full yet, there are stories left untold. For the first time in my life my big mouth has got me something good. As Cher said at her last live concert “now follow this you B!”
* To engage with Danny, e-mail him at [email protected]