Living Social Justice

A blog about responding to poverty and injustice, everyday and in all sorts of ways

Archive for the month “October, 2011”

Part 1 – Living Under The Line

Some thoughts from Common Grounder Anneke Jagau on this week’s challenge.

How do I live under the line on only R10 a day without compromising on the taste, the health-factor and the amounts of food? And how can I still keep a variable diet? It took me a while to realise that I actually will have to compromise… big time! And that many people worldwide compromise every day.

Cheap food is not exactly known for being extremely healthy. Most people in our country keep themselves alive with mainly starchy food. Samp and beans, pap, rice, bread… Having a filled tummy that takes you through the day is more important than what actually fills it.

Looking into this challenge I realise that it is not just the amount of money that is a challenge, but also the time and creativity that it takes to make it work. Unlike the millions of people who live under the breadline, we still have the privilege of having good fridges so that we can keep the food fresh during the challenge. And we should not forget that we have good stoves so we don’t need to work for 30 minutes to make a good fire in order to prepare our food.

So how can we make it work? The code word is soup. That is what I will be eating. And oat porridge for breakfast. Lentils are nice too as they are not too expensive. My husband and I will also work together with our small group by shopping together and dividing our groceries to make our R10 take us further. And we will go to markets where we can get nice bulk deals. Preferably at the end of a day, so that we can get the food that they just want to get rid of.

Thank goodness we don’t need to factor in the cars that’ll get us to our shopping destinations into our R10 daily budget.

Happy Challenge!

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Moving on up

By Sam Rawson

In September, nine members of the Common Ground Street and Shelter Ministry graduated from NETwork’s job readiness programme. Wow! Here’s more. 

For thousands of people living on the streets of Cape Town or in a shelter, hope doesn’t lie in a hand out or in small change but in the opportunity to work for a living. Having a job not only provides an income but it restores a person’s dignity and allows them the opportunity to live a life of productivity and fullness.

Sadly, the longer someone has had to survive on the streets the harder it becomes for them to find employment. Without a cell phone, clean clothes and a permanent address finding a job in a city with an unemployment rate of 17% is, well, difficult to say the least.

The Common Ground Street and Shelter Ministry exists not only to build friendships and disciple people towards Jesus, but also to help them find permanent accommodation, regular employment and lead a healthier lifestyle. After all, Jesus came so that we may all experience “life to the full” (John 10:10).

Thankfully, there are organisations like NETwork committed to helping people along the process to a full and abundant life in Christ. Last month, nine members of the Common Ground Street and Shelter ministry graduated from NETwork’s job readiness programme. A huge accomplishment!

The goal of the programme is to develop characteristics sought after by employers and to increase the self-confidence of the participants in venturing into the job market.

“The course really gave them all so much more focus and confidence,” says Richard Bolland, the Common Ground Street and Shelter Ministry leader. “Most of them have tried almost every avenue to get a job but the programme helped restore their dignity and give them hope.  Having NETwork vouch for them is a huge asset to have in such a competitive job market where thousands sometimes apply for one entry level position.”

Meet some of the NETwork graduates:

Mashudu, 28, is originally from Limpopo and has been a part of the ministry for the past five months. He recently went for an interview for a security guard position and is waiting to hear back from the company.

Above: Mashudu, Ekrosi, Richard, Onke and Marcus

Marcus, 26, is from Zimbabwe and is currently looking for a job as a waiter. He hopes to use his future earnings to enrol in a graphic design course.

Felix, 22, is an orphan from Gugulethu who was raised by an aunt. The team is currently trying to get him into an adult education programme so that he can complete his matric.

And that’s not all that’s happening in the Common Ground Street and Shelter Ministry:

Ekrosi (above),  25, has just qualified as a fork lift operator and is now looking for a job in this field.

Maureen (above) is in her late 40s and has been on the streets for over 15 years. She recently came top of her Blue Sticker domestic worker training class. Well done, Maureen! She’s currently looking for a position as a domestic worker.

As a community, we really want to support people like Mashudu, Ekrosi, Marcus and Maureen in their search for employment – and there are loads more stories like theirs. If you know of any openings specifically for entry level jobs, please email office@network.org.za.

About the Common Ground Street and Shelter Ministry

For those of you haven’t already heard, the Common Ground Street and Shelter Ministry is a dedicated team of Common Grounders led by Richard Bolland who meet twice a week to build relationships with and disciple people living on the streets or in shelters.

The ministry started last year (read more about that story here) and now meets on a Tuesday at the Kensington Haven Night Shelter (from 18h30 to 20h00) and on a Thursday in the Mowbray area (from 17h30 to 19h30).

The venue may change frequently – they’ve met at a railway station, in a subway, on the steps of a post office and in crowded shelters – but the heart behind the ministry has remained the same.

“We’re so aware that only Jesus can transform the hearts and lives of people,” says Richard. “Our hope is that through friendship we’ll be able to disciple people towards Jesus and help them along the path towards employment, permanent shelter and self-sustainability. But it takes a transformed heart to bear fruit.”

If you’d like to learn more about the Common Ground Street and Shelter Ministry, like their Facebook page here.

Fashion Statement

By Sam Rawson

From Nike to Prada, we live in a society that is obsessed with fashion brands and the prestige and status attached to them. But four university students and an idea is all it took to start a new brand called Suns and Daughters and the beginnings of what could become a counter-cultural movement. We hope! Read more…

During church one cold April evening, 20-year-old UCT medical student and self-proclaimed ‘hoodie’ lover, Sarah Burton, had an idea. What if there was a project that sold hoodies where for every hoodie bought an identical one was also paid for and given to someone in need? This way dozens and possibly hundreds of people across Cape Town could be made to feel loved and respected by simply blessing them with a new item of good quality warm clothing. After all, doesn’t it say in the Gospel that “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none” (Luke 3:11 NIV)?

Sitting around the kitchen table later that evening, she bounced the idea off her close friends and fellow students, Claire Brayshay, Kate Ord and Samantha Beningfield. “As a group we’ve often shared stories of people we’ve met living in extreme poverty and discussed how we should respond as Christ-followers in these situations,” Clare explains. “It’s really been something on our hearts for a while so when I told the girls about my idea they were all super enthusiastic and keen to be involved. That same night we started sending emails to find out who else could help us!”

Within a week they’d launched a Facebook page that grew to over 300 fans in under three days all wanting to support the project in some way. Drawing from their social capital, they soon got on board fellow Common Grounders Nick Mills, a graphic designer, and Shaun Couves, owner of Toit clothing, to help them with the design and production of the hoodies. Six months later and 102 people are now the proud owners of Suns and Daughters hoodies.

Fifty-one of these were given as gifts to people living on the streets, in shelters, and in homes for the previously disadvantaged. Attached to each one was a personalised message from the person who’d bought it with encouraging words and blessings.

“One of the most moving moments for me was when we gave a hoodie to Melissa, a lady I’d developed a friendship with after meeting her begging outside the Rondebosch Pick n Pay with her four-year-old daughter,” says Sarah. “She was really emotional after reading her note and confessed to us that this was the first gift she’d ever received.”

“This whole process has been such a learning experience for all of us,” explains Sam. “We’ve learnt that giving someone something might make you feel better but that it isn’t going to drastically change their circumstances. We hope that the hoodies will become a bridge to create conversations between two people who might otherwise have had nothing in common and be the spark that starts a friendship.”

So what advice do the girls have for those of us wanting to respond but unsure of how or where to start? “Students often don’t have a huge amount to give away but what we do have is the time to be socially proactive,” suggests Sam. “The hoodie project has been a great conversation starter and a way to chat about why we’re doing this and Christ’s heart for the poor.”

The challenge to all of us is clear. Regardless of what season of life we’re in, we can all do something to shine Christ’s love into someone else’s life. It can start by simply noticing the person you walk or drive past every day. By having a conversation. By learning their name. By showing them that they’re loved and valued regardless of what they’re wearing or their present circumstance.

For more info on Suns and Daughters and what they’re up to next, visit their blogwww.sunsanddaughters.wordpress.com.

  Suns and Daughters (Sarah far right) hand over a hoodie to Euphonia at the Liesbeek/N2 robots      Sam (left) with Theresa   at the Campground   /Liesbeek robot

The Suns and Daughters crew with the guys from Beth Uriel after giving them each a hoodie

Part 5 – Finding a sisterhood of grace

By Chrischele Alberts

Well, from organizing school presentations to “jam” sessions, I discovered that there is a lot one person can do.

Another opportunity which has come my way is ministering to women from diverse backgrounds.

I’m privileged to be part of the CGC weekly ministry team for Sisters Inc (www.sisters.org.za ). Our main aim is to provide spiritual upliftment to the residents at Sisters.

Being a part of this special team has definitely increased my levels of faith, compassion and love. Witnessing the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in these wounded lives has been an absolute bonus! Over the years, there’s also been ample opportunity to get my colleagues and family involved in support of this organisation. Some of my colleagues volunteer their time to assist with their annual street collection, provide ad hoc donations of goods and so on.

And that’s the journey that I have been on, so far!

We’ve all been gifted uniquely, yet on our own our gifts are meaningless and have no value. Gifts that are shared, however, benefit both you and the person you are giving to.

We don’t have to save the world but we can “do what we can with what we have, right where we’re at”.

I hope I’ve inspired you just a little to see that opportunities to make a difference exist all around us – and if you look up you’ll start to see them too!

If you’d like to know a bit more about Colleen’s Place of Hope, you can check out this link (www.areachinghand.co.za)  or contact me at chrischele.alberts@gmail.com.

Part 4 – Responding with family in mind

By Chrischele Alberts

In my last post, I described the huge inadequacy I felt personally when challenged to respond. But by God’s grace, and some simple actions, I’ve found that one person can be an influence for good…

With the run-up to the Soccer World Cup in 2010, CGC spotlighted the issue of Human Trafficking. Being a mom, this issue really hit home. I followed this up and found that there was an educational resource available. In my immediate circle of influence I had an extensive network of family, friends and colleagues who could benefit from this and so I proceeded to pass it on. I also contacted my daughter’s school and arranged for Justice Acts (www.connectnetwork.org.za ) to do a presentation on Human Trafficking to the school.

Through CGC I was also introduced to Foodbank SA and their Lunch Buddies program. This is a school feeding program aimed at alleviating hunger by collecting sandwiches made by children at resourced schools and distributing them at under-resourced schools.

This wasn’t new to me as my girls had been taking extra sandwiches to school for years in support of this initiative, but I decided to check it out and I discovered that they have “sandwich jamming” sessions where you can spend a morning “jamming” (making sandwiches) followed by a visit to one of the beneficiaries to hand out the sandwiches. I figured this was a great way for us to “follow the trail of the extra sandwiches”. You can read about our experience here:www.foodbank.org.za/lunchbuddies-blog/447-lunch-buddies.

It was so rewarding that I extended the invitation to my family and colleagues and a bunch of us went back for a “jam”. I hear they have a lovely teambuilding program as well, *wink wink*!

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