I popped in at the Haven Night Shelter in Retreat last week.
My radio show is hoping to raise quite a bit of money so The Haven can provide shelter to more mense this winter.
Wow, what an eye-opener! I didn’t know that so many ordinary people end up living at The Haven, while they try to get back on their feet.
I found out that because most of us live from hand-to-mouth these days, it’s surprisingly easy to become destitute.
There’s a story of a fairly well-off couple who lived along the Atlantic Seaboard, lost everything in a bad investment and had to move in at The Haven with their laaities.
I met another guy who worked on the oil rigs (a job that pays well), but got caught up in a drug abuse spiral, which led to him losing alles. The Haven provides them with meals, shared accommodation, bathrooms and even access to social workers. And all this for just R12 a night. Most of the food and necessities are donated by retail stores.
The rooms are tiny and living is cramped, but at least it is warm and safe. And because everybody is in the same boat, there’s a sense of togetherness.
But what struck me the most was the homeliness and sense of family. Residents have to actively try to find jobs and those who are left behind during the day, chip in to help out with cooking and cleaning.
Those in charge are very special people who care deeply. In Retreat, the manager is Carmen Hermanus, whom I could tell has a very special bond with her residents.
It reminded me how much we take for granted and how little we think about those in need.
I have decided that during the winter months especially, I am going to buy The Haven vouchers every month for as much as I can afford and hand them out to homeless people. That way I know they can get so much more for so much longer than I can possibly give by myself.