Every Face :: Every Name :: Every Heart
Working With The Homeless In Cape Town
by Greg Owens on June 7th, 2012

By Tony Stewart
Southern Africa Missions Director

On Saturday 9 July 2011, World for Christ had the privilege of sponsoring our next myCapeTown Event to an outstanding ministry called U-Turn, an organisation that works with homeless and street people.  We came to help feed the individuals, talk with them and to share the love of Jesus.  We brought a team of six people and it was well received by all.

On arrival we were given an overall idea about the ministry from Sean and Randall, full time workers for U-Turn.  We learnt of the history of U-Turn which was very informative and an eye-opener into the homeless community.  We also saw that having a soup kitchen is only a very small part of what they are about.  They have 3 phases to their work:

1. Contact
2. Rehabilitation
3. Reintegration

Many people think that giving small change at a robot (traffic light) or street corner helps, but this is not the case.  One of U-Turn's sayings is "Small change is no change".  One can rather assist by buying a pack of five U-Turn vouchers for R20 ($3.25USD) at various places in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town.  This voucher entitles homeless individuals to a meal or some clothing.  But the larger point in this is that they have to go to the U-Turn facility to redeem the voucher and this puts them in contact with the team at U-Turn.  In order for them to receive the benefits offered by U-Turn, they have to join a program of rehabilitation and reintegration.  You can read more about their broad-based process they take the homeless through on their website www.homeless.org.za.

After hearing about how U-Turn operates, we started setting up and preparing breakfast and setting the tables and as we were doing so, so our guests started arriving. There were 15 homeless people that arrived. This is not done haphazardly.  They were given invites to attend and they do not just allow anyone to attend as it is a process that needs to be followed. When they had all arrived, we mingled with them and served them coffee and chocolates, which they enjoyed in addition to the fellowship. We gave them bacon and egg rolls, which they thoroughly enjoyed. We all then spent time talking and listening to their many stories they have to tell, of which there are many, some short and some very long. Sean shared from the word of God.  After he finished, we then handed out sandwiches and fruit to all the people as the left, with lots of hugs and tears, leaving us changed and with a lot to think about.

One young man, who was 21 years old, has been on the street for seven years already.  He lost his parents at an early age and went from children's home to children's home.  After failing grade nine, he started living on the streets and has never had employment.  All he wants to do is work. But at U-Turn you will find out that there is normally something more that needs to be dealt with than just being homeless, usually an addiction or condition.

This where the full time staff step come in and help.  Their program or re-integration process is of a minimum of eight months, sometimes longer. U-Turn offers them small jobs where they can earn some money to keep them going.  They also try to get accommodation for them which they “pay for” with the money earned from working.  These jobs include rolling yarn, earning R2 ($0.30USD) a roll, and there is also a second hand store to work at as well. U-Turn has a very strict policy that must be adhered to, as they have become very ”streetwise” and this is also part of the learning process.

We will definitely follow up and keep in contact with this wonderful ministry as there is a lot we can learn from the lives of these people that touched our lives.

Well done to Leigh Newton for organizing this amazing event.  We are looking forward to the other myCapeTown events that lie ahead.

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Sunil - April 7th, 2014 at 6:07 AM
wowww its beatifull , realy want to join u in the name of our SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST
Uri steyn - May 25th, 2014 at 10:26 AM
Good day I'm very interested and kin on helping out
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