Lifeline for the destitute in Graaff-Reinet
What started as 67 minutes in honour of Nelson Mandela on 18 July 2021 has now become a lifeline for the destitute in Graaff-Reinet.
For the past two months, Hento Davids and his wife, Shirley, have been providing Sunday meals, clothing and shoes for a large number of homeless individuals in town.
There is no doubt that homelessness in Graaff-Reinet has become a critical issue that needs to be addressed urgently.
Residents have been raising particular concern around the growing number of young men loitering during the day and sleeping in plain sight at night.
Not only does this pose a safety and security risk to the community, but it also adversely impacts the tourism industry.
For these reasons, there has been a public outcry for the removal of these individuals from town.
The reality is that homelessness can never be resolved simply by keeping the homeless out of sight.
The problem is multifaceted and, in addition to the dire need for adequate shelter, it requires the root causes of homelessness, such as unemployment, substance abuse and mental health challenges to be addressed.
A holistic approach that integrates housing, primary care, mental healthcare, education, employment, life skills, life coaching and community building should therefore, be adopted.
To this end, Hento and Shirley established the Davids’ Uplift and Care Foundation intending to permanently resolve the issue of homelessness in GraaffReinet.
Hento has been working on this concept since he was appointed as coordinator of the homeless shelter at the Alex Laing Hall during the Level 5 lockdown in 2020. He has since managed to draft a detailed proposal for this project.
An appropriate site for the homeless shelter has now been identified.
In October 2020 he approached the mayor of Dr Beyers Naude Municipality, Deon de Vos, who committed to support the initiative.
The Department of Social Development also indicated that they would render assistance.
To date, there has been no feedback from the municipality and the department but Hento and Shirley remain hopeful that they will secure the necessary funding for this essential establishment.
Anyone who would like to get involved is welcome to contact Hento on 082 821 9518 or Shirley on 081 884 3026.