HOMELESS PEER ADVISERS IN DURBAN
By: Bongani Gema
Homeless people around the Durban area have adopted an initiative that will allow them to teach people how to survive on the streets.
This initiative, proposed to the Denis Hurley Care Centre a month ago, hopes to become an advisory body for those living on the streets.
Raymond Perrier, Director of the Denis Hurley Centre, said that after the group had received their go-ahead, they then structured themselves geographically, appointing six representatives from around the different areas of the Durban CBD.
“We held a dialogue with them, and we noticed that there were natural leaders among (the) homeless people,” he said.
He said that although the initiative is not funded in cash, the group have an office in the Centre and are provided with food to eat whilst they are there.
He added that the appointed representatives are now acting as advisers and supporters to their peers.
“These are the best people for the task because they’ve gone through the same experience,” he said.
Perrier also said that this will help the homeless to speak for themselves when they are engaging with other organisations.
Group adviser Londani Xulu, also homeless, said that the aim was to get the homeless people together and to interact with them since there are many different reasons for their displacement and “the Denis Hurley Centre has allowed us the platform to do so.”
“Some of us came here looking for a job. Some are from Eshowe or Nkandla and you can’t stay in rural areas when the job is in Durban,” he said.
He said that one among the many challenges they face on the streets is Identity Card registration which they are determined to tackle.
Vusumuzi Gwabeni, also an adviser, said that homeless people become easy targets for crime and when they go to the police to report it, they are asked for proof of residence.
“We are outcasts in society. Now we are trying to bridge that gap,” said Gwabeni.