Friday, 26 June 2015 16:36

iDare2Care: One night of courage, A City Forever Changed

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Victor Hugo once remarked: You can resist an invading army but you cannot resist an idea whose time has come.” The iDare2Care event proved to be one such idea, echoing as it did the campaign that is sweeping across the globe, namely the CEO SleepOut, a philanthropic initiative that began in Australia 10 years ago with the aim of drawing attention to the global issue of homelessness and raising funds to help combat the scourge. (Recently, South Africa took up the global challenge, successfully hosting the first CEO SleepOut to be held on African soil – the Inaugural 702 Sun International CEO SleepOut™ in Johannesburg).

Wayne Sandeman, Pastor at His People Christian Church Durban, had no idea the extent to which his God-inspired idea to challenge the status quo concerning the plight of the homeless in Durban would be embraced and adopted by his fellow ‘Durbanites’. However, at 5pm on Friday 15 May 2015, approximately 1000 people (including many from different churches around the City) braved the early winter chill and gathered at the City Hall in Durban, to participate in what became known as the iDare2Care initiative.

The event, which was hosted by I Care, in collaboration with eThekwini Municipality, saw people from all over Durban taking up the challenge to forgo the comfort of their own home and sleep in the streets surrounding the City Hall for one night in order to highlight the plight of the homeless in the City and raise funds for I Care, the beneficiary and partner. Participants from as young as 16 years of age raised sponsorships from generous donors who dared them to sleep under the stars for one night with the proceeds assisting I Care in its work across the City. In return they were provided with the opportunity to glimpse life as a homeless person in Durban and to impact someone’s life for the better.  

I Care is a well known Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) that has been transforming the lives of street children for over 13 years. They strive to be the leading organisation that solves the problems of street children in South Africa, through their Christian faith and by partnering with the authorities and like-minded organisations. Their programmes include outreach, rehabilitation, housing/shelter and skills development. Through their work, hundreds of street children have been rescued from the streets and given a brighter future.

The iDare2Care event, which was a first for the City, was made possible through the collaborative efforts of eThekwini Municipality’s Safer Cities and iTrump Unit and the Mayor’s office. Sanitech, Rescue Care, Blue Security, Durban Solid Waste (DSW), the Denis Hurley Centre, We Are Durban and the Durban Metro Police assisted in the smooth running of the event on the day.

 

What sets the iDare2Care event apart from similar events of this nature is the fact that it was an interactive experience - for those who participated in the event, for the street children and for the I Care staff. Many street children received both therapeutic and spiritual counselling from volunteers. In this regard, Pastor Sandeman, together with many of his congregants, played a significant role. Furthermore, representatives from various organisations made themselves available to educate the homeless about the different health and wellbeing services available to them through the City, as well as through I Care, and how they can access these. Not surprisingly, the street children responded positively to the love and respect demonstrated by all involved. Importantly, the work of the I Care staff was acknowledged and they have been strengthened and encouraged in their efforts.

In the event, 100 homeless people registered with the Forum; 65 people undertook voluntary counselling and testing by the Usizo Lwethu Clinic; and approximately 70 people over the age of 16 were interviewed and profiled by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) as part of its study on homelessness. In addition, more than R300 000 was raised through sponsorship.

Ultimately, the iDare2Care event was a bold statement of solidarity by the people of Durban who have grown weary of watching from the sidelines as street children and homeless people wander about aimlessly and without hope. Their act of courage, however, sent a strong message: That taking care of the homeless is not the sole responsibility of Government; it remains very much the community’s concern. Since in order for homelessness to be eradicated, not only will the individual needs of the homeless, for example in terms of employment opportunities and access to affordable housing, need to be addressed but also they will have to be embraced and welcomed back into the very society that has, for the most part, marginalised them. It is for this reason that the iDare2Care event may be considered a significant step in the right direction.

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