Michael1MID Social Development Director (Marion Wagner) working together with Mareka Nolo (Muizenberg Assessment Centre Field Worker) have spent the last 7 months looking for opportunities for our long-term homeless to either reunite them with family members or become part of the community through job creation opportunities and therefore enable some dignity to be restored to them.

Marion is also a member of Safer Together (http://safertogether.org/) who collaborate with MID to support a weekend cleaning project which started in December where the homeless have been given food vouchers and or food items in return for cleaning the precinct– see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rM192pHimZw

One of Muizenberg’s long term homeless people (Michael van der Merwe) participated in the cleaning project and expressed an interest to return to George to find full time employment. The Muizenberg Assessment Centre (working together with the City of Cape Town) supported his return and have been working in cooperation with a shelter in George who will help him through his first month.

On 3rd April, Michael left Muizenberg stating that the next time he visits, he will not be sleeping on the streets. Pictured below are Marion and Mareka handing Michael his ticket to George and wishing him well. The shelter in George has confirmed that Michael has settled in well.

Marion stated that what has really struck her about Michael is that he is one of our only long-term Muizenberg homeless who has no addictions. She said that life has dealt him a rough hand and it’s a reminder of how many people are really only a few pay cheques from being homeless which is what happened to Michael.

Michael2He lost his job with the city in Pretoria in 1999 and couldn’t pay his rent or debts so had to declare himself insolvent and moved onto the streets. He came to Muizenberg from Knysna in 2008 to work for Living Grace and thereafter spent 6 months involved in the renovations of Imperial Court before working for Happy Valley in Simon’s Town but it was insufficient for him to afford a place to rent. Michael used to sleep outside the Masque Theatre or EPIC most nights and told us how the homeless are regularly the targets of criminals coming in from Capricorn to take what little they have or to beat them up. Aftermany years, Michael is now off the streets and we really hope he gets the support he needs to find work and long-term accommodation to start the new life he has been dreaming of.

Many of our long term homeless don’t want to rely on handouts or to be pitied and rather want the opportunity to work and be part of the community. Unfortunately, residents view our homeless either with indifference or resentment or support their life on the streets by providing food or items for them to sell which in most cases is used to support an alcohol addiction. Marion will be working towards creating awareness for responsible giving within Muizenberg where donations can rather be used for employment and accommodation related options. If anyone would like to find out more, would like to volunteer, donate or can offer any type of employment, then please get in touch with Marion who has a database of more than 20 of our long-term homeless with skill sets ranging from plastering, electrics, painting, gardening etc. Previous work references can also be provided. The key is to understand that they have addictions and not support them by giving them items or food which can be sold for cash.

Marion can be contacted on marion@socialdevelopment.org or 081 425 0685