19 Jul 2013

There’s more to Boating World than meets the eye! Apart from dealing with Big Boat buyers countrywide, this socially aware team being conscious of the plight of those less fortunate than themselves, made good use of the Mandela Day 67 minutes to put something back into the community.

Derrick, Suzanne, Jessica, Greg and Victor left work an hour early the day before Madiba’s birthday and spent the allotted time going through their cupboards to collect a pile of clothes to donate to a worthy cause.

The next morning they set off together for The Haven Shelter in Green Point with a sizeable pile of clothes and vegetables to give away. There they met Administrator Rene Adams who gave the wide-eyed group a tour of the shelter and explained how it works.

She mentioned that this is one of 15 shelters in Cape Town and surrounds which typically in winter is overflowing with needy people. They come from all walks of life and situations and contrary to popular belief, not everyone has fallen on hard times of their own making. Economic and social circumstances often forces people of all races into seeking help – many of whom are shocked at finding themselves in this position.

Lists are kept of employed and unemployed people and each person coming in is interviewed by a social worker who assesses their needs and circumstances. At the moment 75% of the occupants at The Haven in Green Point are men with 64 booked on beds and an overflow of 18 sleeping on mattresses in the dining room. 26 Women sleep in their own dormitory.

Rene and three supervisors attend to the daily functioning of the shelter and a “skill” worker is involved with job creation – working closely with the City of Cape Town – looking for employment from temporary to contract work and permanent if possible.

If anyone cannot pay the mandatory R10 a day, residents are assigned jobs within the shelter to pay for their stay. They are given porridge for breakfast, a packed lunch (consisting of leftovers, bread or sandwiches) and supper which is usually stews etc.  The shelter relies on donations and other funding and large chain stores donate food.  Residents are provided with toiletries and they can do their laundry in the one washing machine available or wash by hand with soaps which are provided.

The shelter has to be vacated by 8am each day and people can start coming in from 4pm.

Rene added that The Haven shelters do more than just provide a place to put your head down but the staff also assist with obtaining Government grants for pensioners, disability grants and getting ID’s and passports sorted out for those who cannot do so themselves. Reports are also sent to the Department of Social Development every month.

Suzanne found the visit challenging, interesting and an important exercise in understanding the difficulties faced by less privileged people and realising that it does not take an awful lot to make a difference in the lives of others.  Jessica was impressed with the way the shelter is run and the care given to maintaining the dignity of individuals in need. Hassan Khan is the CEO of all the Haven Shelters and he can be contacted at (021) 425 4700 regarding funding needs, allocation and for more information.