World Homeless Day is an annual event on the 10th of October and George Municipality honoured the event by enriching people living on the street’s lives with motivational talks, entertainment and food.
The concept of ‘World Homeless Day’ emerged from online discussions between people working to respond to homelessness from various parts of the world.
The purpose of the annual day is to draw attention to homeless people’s needs locally and provide opportunities for the community to get involved in responding to homelessness, while taking advantage of the stage an ‘international day’ provides.
Mr Phenyo Leopang, a person that previously lived on the streets, was a motivational speaker for the day. Leopang lost his job and soon found himself not being able to pay his rent. He had problems with his family and soon ended up on the streets. He moved to George. “I knew no-one in George and after research, I found there was a night shelter. When you live on the streets the most important things are to have a meal and to have a bed to sleep in. “I’ve heard about the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and started a job by sweeping streets. That’s how I started to know George. Today a few years later I’m an aspiring businessman. I could never have imagined it,” Leopang said.
He said his mother has a saying, which he lives by – Ask! the worst thing that can happen to you is to get a no, but guess what you are still alive. Leopang said there is also times when you will have to help and maybe work for nothing. He said he is so proud of his mother, who learned skills by volunteering, and today she uses those skills in her own consultancy firm.
Cllr Sean Snyman, Portfolio Councillor for Social Development, Libraries and Sport shared his own personal story about living on the streets and said living on the streets is a vicious cycle. He said people’s mindsets have a lot to do with it. “Please reach out to your family, fix family bridges, it is the closest solution to your situation,” Snyman said. He said social development and many other stakeholders will continue to work towards changing the situations of people living on the streets, even if it is only one person at a time.
Shane Fredericks entertained the crowd with his singing. For further details and information regarding people living on the streets, you may make contact with Estelle Fredericks on 044 802 2000.
Caption: The People living on the street local board and other dignitaries honouring World Homeless day are in front from left, Const. Rachel Hendricks (George Police), Sr Loretta Roelofse (Department of Health), Jonathan Gelderbloem (Youth for Christ), Solomon Blaauw (dignitary), Estelle Fredericks (Community Development: George Municipality), Sophia Fanelo: (Manager: Community Development: George Municipality) and Marisa Lamprecht (Correctional Services). At the back are Cllr Vincentius Muller, Ward Councillor for Ward 17 and member of the Social Development portfolio committee, Julie Stoffels (Jaicos NGO), Melissa Markgraff (Social Development), Shane Fredericks (musical entertainer at the event), Theodore-Duwayne (dignitary), Cllr Sean Snyman (Ward Councillor for Ward 19 and Portfolio Councillor for Social Development, Libraries and Sport).