February has come and gone in the blink of an eye and the excitement of March and the new things it will bring, is upon us. We are excited to announce that form the first of March Leila Bolland who has been our administrator over the past few months will be moving into a social work role for New Hope. Along with this change Vivien Hobbs will be joining the team as our second employee and social worker, and between the two of them will share the administrative tasks as well. We are so excited for our team to be growing and we trust that our capacity to assist more people will grow as well.
Talking about new exciting changes, we have added a New Hope Board member’s column to our monthly newsletter. This is a space where each month a board members has the opportunity to share their thoughts on a topic related to the work that we do. This month Richard Bolland has shared a bit about his journey alongside the homeless and some of his realizations.
Board Member’s Column
I was homeless for 1 week back in 2013. It was an uncomfortable and demoralising experience which I did completely out of our my own choice. I was trying to raise funds for charity, which I achieved, but gained far more than money by the end of that week. For the first time in my life I got a glimpse of what it was actually like to be destitute - and I specifically use the word 'glimpse' because I knew at the end of the week I was going back to my comfortable house that had my car neatly parked in the driveway and good food stored in the cupboards.
The strongest 'glimpse' of destitution that I saw was when I was talking to a man who I'm going to call John. We were sitting outside on the back stoep of the shelter talking about our day when he began to violently cough. I was concerned, John seemed to be very sick. I told him that his cough sounded really bad and that he should probably go get it checked out. He replied saying that he thinks he has TB.
I knew that there was nothing I could really do for him besides to pray - so I asked John whether he minds if I pray for God to heal his lungs.
"NO!" he shouted. I new John believed in God so his response was quite surprising to me.
He continued, "I'm hoping that I have TB so that I can get SASSA (a monthly government disability grant)."
He went on to tell me that it was easier for him to get SASSA than to find a job because he didn't finish school and he is getting old. It really made me think of how desperate John became trying to reach financial independence and I'm sure his story is not unique. The unemployment rate in our country currently sits at 26.7% and so it's scary what lengths 1 in 4 people go to in order to break away from the cycle of poverty.
I lost contact with John after he left the homeless shelter but my prayer is that he recovered from his TB and found meaningful employment. I'm not sure if I will ever find out if God answered my prayers but I continue to pray for others like John who are struggling on the streets. I pray they see glimpses of hope in their lives and that they never have to lose their physical well-being in order to gain their financial well-being.
- Richard Bolland
We have had a rough month with Michael. He ran away from Boston house again and landed up in Groote Schuur Hospital. After being discharged from the hospital he returned to Boston House where he did well for the next couple of weeks. We received reports that he was doing better than ever before since starting at TWC. However this last week we heard that he had left Boston house without discussing it with management, only informing some of the residents that he was going to stay with his sister. After contacting his sister and finding out that she had not had contact with him for over a year, we realised that he must have returned to the streets. This news deeply saddens us, and we continue to pray and hope for his safety as we seek to find out his whereabouts.
We have only received positive feedback regarding Mary’s recovery over the past month. We are so pleased and trust that she will continue to do well on her journey of recovery.
Hlubi has been at Inner Peace for more than a month and has been responding so well to their programme. We are so pleased to hear this positive report after his rocky start. We look forward to all that God has in store for Hlubi, Mary and their baby, and continue to trust for their reunification as a family.
We are so proud of how far Daniel has come in the last few months. He currently has a secure and stable job that will provide him with a steady income for the foreseeable future. He has shown so much gratitude for the way that New Hope has helped him and been in constant communication with us keeping us updated on his progress. In the next few months he will be moving out of The Carpenter’s Shop, where he will move to is unconfirmed. However we trust that his next step will take him closer to independence.
Roger has been at Barrington House for almost two months and is currently still looking for work. He recently expressed his gratitude for the opportunity New Hope SA has given him and how it has allowed him to go on this journey of recovery. He explained, “You know when you walk along this dark road for so long you become oblivious to the world but most importantly to yourself.” Yet through recovery he says that he is “...experiencing a strong and pleasant awareness of myself … and I am rediscovering a new person.” We are grateful to God for the redemption we have already seen in Roger’s life and we continue to trust for more grace over his recovery.
Walter has had a few setbacks in his search for a job over the last month as he has been struggling with his eyesight. He is in the process of having the issues attended to by medical professionals. Throughout this past month and the numerous doctors appointments Walter has remained positive and determined to get the treatment he needs. We are doing all that we can to support him through this time and prepare him for the next step when he is is again physically fit to work.
Peter continues to search for work while he attends a computer course at The Zanokhayo Network. This month he celebrated 19 months clean from alcohol and drugs. We celebrate this achievement with him and we are so in awe of the way God has kept him and sustained him in his recovery.
*Names have been changed for anonymity