DAY 21: Homeless, not brainless

Today I spent my morning helping my classmate with her multimedia project. Part of her project was to film the soup kitchen at the St Francis Catholic Church on Cavendish road in Yeoville. The soup kitchen runs every Saturday and Sunday and it is run by congregates of the Catholic Church who have divided themselves intro groups and cook and clean every week.

The soup kitchen largely caters for the disadvantaged people living in Yeoville, many of which are also homeless. We were there this morning for the entire preparation process. It was wonderful to watch the dedication and the hard work put in by the congregates of the church to better the lives of people in what may seem a small way considering that it happens twice a week. When the food was prepared we were each offered a plate and one of my classmates said: “I feel bad because it’s like I’m taking away from the people who actually need it.” She ate it nonetheless, we all did and it was a wholesome plate of food, one which I am sure the recipients were more than happy to receive.

While the food was being served I was introduced to one homeless man who happens to be a qualified medical doctor from Zimbabwe. We, as outsiders looking in tend to be judgmental and dismissive of people because of the way they look. We, myself included, never really take a moment and think about the journey that landed them in their situation.

He told me about the wonderful life he used to lead before the harsh realities of his life caught up with him and left him homeless, without a family and in South Africa. He was reluctant to talk about how his life ended up the way it did. What he wanted to talk about, rather was our futures as young people living in the world. “My circumstances might never change but you have the opportunities.” I told him that I would continue with my studies if I had the financial means and he said: “Maybe you can tell someone else that but you can’t give me that story, the money will always be there. Are you a journalist out of desperation or is it your calling? If it’s your calling, what’s holding you back from writing? Nothing.” He inspired me and gave me a perspective on my own life I previously did not have. He doe not know it but the conversation we had instilled in me a flame to continue to work hard and seize every opportunity that comes my way, no matter how small.

“I’m in the gutter now but if I had a small string to pull myself up out of the gutter, I would pull with every bit of strength in me. Just work hard.”

We take for granted that the lives many of us live today will forever remain favourable to our wants and we get comfortable.

It may seem silly but this in-depth journey passed by this gentleman in Yeoville (and he was a true gentleman, neatly dressed, bags packed neatly, he was polite and well-spoken) to remind me to live with purpose, always.

A wonderful and humbling pit-stop in my journey to becoming a good journalist.

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