How R12 , One Night In A Shelter Changed A Man’s Life Forever

This is the story of a qualified psychologist… and how he went from having everything to sleeping on the streets of Cape Town. It was a donation of R12 and one night in a shelter that changed this man’s entire life forever. It literally saved him.

We are all familiar with the sight of people sleeping on the streets, begging at traffic lights, or pushing shopping trolleys that are filled with all of their possessions. Unfortunately this is such a common occurrence in your daily lives that most people might not stop to think how this person actually got to be homeless.

This is Patrick’s story… and a reminder that you could make a difference with just R12.

“We were excited about the weather and what we had heard about the people’s friendliness.”

Those were Patrick (48) and his partner’s reasons for migrating from Antwerp, Belgium to South Africa in 2000. Patrick, a qualified psychologist and interior architect, loves using his talent and skills to build successful ventures.

They established a successful B&B, interior design store and a restaurant in the resort town of Ballito, near Durban. Despite some challenges they were still going strong ten years later.

“We needed a change.” he says. “Durban was beautiful, but we wanted to move to Cape Town with its rich cultural life.”

In 2010, they set off for the Cape, and later settled in Melkbosstrand and Langebaan.

“The turning point came when my partner of more than 20 years, slowly succumbed to advanced Alzheimer’s and later contracted encephalitis. He died shortly after being diagnosed.”

The grief in losing his partner of 28 years was further deepend when his partner’s family claimed almost all of their assets. Patrick found himself alone, living in the only thing he owned, his car.

One night he literally lost everything when his car which he was sleeping in, was broken into and all of his belongings stolen. His mind was not in a good space. Alone and desolate, Patrick found himself being treated in the psychiatric ward of Somerset Hospital after trying to take his own life. He was discharged a few days later with only the clothes he was wearing and a referral letter for The Haven.

The Haven’s mission is to get homeless people back to a home but their wish is to break the cycle of entitlement and ensure that people gain their dignity back. The Haven believes that it is crucial for homeless persons to take responsibility for their lives. Part of the method is that a homeless person has to pay R12 per day for The Haven services, even if they don’t have a regular income.

That R12 includes a bed for the night, with dinner and breakfast included.

People who are not able to afford the R12 are asked to contribute by helping with daily tasks within the organization. By “working” for the Haven, you earn your nights stay.

Patrick had never heard of The Haven and didn’t know what to expect. Arriving late in the evening, all the beds had already been allocated.

“The kind host must have felt my desperation and made a plan to let me stay the night, – my first at The Haven. Even though I did not have any money, they still helped me! That was in June 2016.”

Patrick did not wait for a miracle. From almost day 1, he set to work in the kitchen and very soon he was helping with cooking and planning menus! His vision was not to spend the rest of his life in a shelter! He was determined to find a job, and decided to scour the internet and do all his job-hunting online but Finding a job was not easy.

“I’m white, male, 48, and a foreigner. I don’t know many companies openly looking for those criteria!” he jokes.

“I had to think about my unique skills and talents”.

Patrick is proficient in five languages. He soon landed a job in an airline call centre. A few months ago, he accepted another position at a leading online store and now works in its German-speaking customer care department.

Professionally, Patrick has big plans for his own progression in the company. On the home front, he is currently looking for an apartment.

He has been looking for a two bedroom flat for months now. Due to him living in 2nd phase shelter at the moment it seems agents think he will not be a good tenant. He has a full time job, earning a decent salary

Patrick’s energy, tenacity, and determination to succeed against all odds, seems limitless. He also has a plan to give back to The Haven.

“I don’t know where I would have ended up if not for this amazing organisation. I am working on offering computer literacy training to The Haven residents in my free time”.

He remains grateful to The Haven for the incredible work they do, and the second chance at life that a kind host offered him one cold night, just eight short months ago.

You can help others too… by just donating R12.

The Haven started the “Buy a bed” campaign to make the Shelters more accessible for people living on the streets. Most homeless people know that they have to pay shelter fees starting from R12 per night. These shelter fees are not a goal it self but more that homeless adults learn to take responsibility again.

Sometimes homeless people use that as an excuse not to come to the shelter.

With the “Buy a bed” campaign they encourage the community to cover their shelter fees for the first 5 nights and help them to be a sustainable organisation. The campaign is especially for a homeless person with no income.

The shelter looks after more than 2000 people every night. So your help is highly appreciated.


Written by How South Africa

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