HOW WE STARTED
We started reaching out to the people sleeping on our city streets in 2006, never dreaming that this would become a regular thing or a charity organisation.
That was the first project of Kingdom Culture: OpenMind, which we called Feed the Homeless, since we believed that meeting basic human needs – such as feeding people – was our duty as citizens and children of God. We chose to change the name since we didn’t want to have a negative label attached to our ministry or to those living on the street.
The key focus of Feet On The Street today – in order to facilitate ministry – is to build relationships and trust with those that find themselves sleeping on the street, by using food as a tool to start a conversation.
HOW WE WORK
A major difference between our organisation and other charity organisations is that we start by getting involved on a personal level. Being really interested in them we ask them about their skills, family, health and daily lives, just as one would get to know someone at church. This has subsequently developed into actual relationships where they have come to know us by name, asking us about our lives and eventually about God. By showing them that we truly care, they began to care for us.
Trust is earned; it is much harder to earn trust from someone that has been cast out by the world. By being consistent with our approach; remembering their names and their stories, we started to earn their trust and started making a positive difference in their lives.
WHO WE SERVE
Interestingly, we found that more than 80% of the people we speak with on a regular basis are living on the street on their own volition, because they have families that they care for. They are typically from rural areas, where they are unable to find jobs. So they come to the city to work and then take money back to their families, or send it home when they can. They choose to sleep on the sidewalk, in order to save as much as possible. They also often don’t eat for days for the very same reason.
For some the only way to survive the cold nights and harsh circumstances is to resort to using drugs or alcohol. Sometimes the only times they eat are when they are given food by their employers or by us. All the food and blankets we provide are from donations.
What we found is that many of our friends on the street hear much about God from different charity groups.
When we pray with them and they truly have an encounter with God, they start to change. They regain self-respect. They start behaving differently, including being on time for work, being more diligent thus many of them have been able to find permanent employment. During our outreach in Voortrekker Road, it came to the point where many of the people that we were meeting with moved on because they found employment and we had to find a new location. We have since moved to various different locations in PTA CBD and started building relationships and feeding people there, until the time arise where we need to find a new location to build relationship.
WHAT WE NEED
We always need food! Normally we hand out sandwiches and fruit, and on occasion we hand out cooked potatoes. Our volunteers come together to prepare the food about two hours before going out on the street.
Sometimes people donate clothes, and we especially need clothes for men since most of the people we see on the street tend to be men, but we do have other charities that we network with that ladies’ and children’s clothes can be passed on to.
Twice a year we organise big projects where we hand out blankets, large food hampers and shoes.
We also hand out Bibles as often as we can, which we receive from charitable donations of money and Bibles (old or new, any and all languages).
If you have a Bible or feel it in your heart to donate towards the spreading of Bibles, please do not hesitate to contact us.
WHEN WE GO OUT
Feet On the Street has a team going out every second Tuesday evening. We do not plan to go out more often since we don’t want to create a culture of dependence. We want to provide a basic need, but we want people to learn to sustain themselves.
WHAT WE ARE DOING
Currently we are dreaming about building a “Wiki” platform where training materials will be available for use by ANY individual who wishes to use it in order to help a person that needs skills development. The idea is to have resources available on an online resource centre (wiki) where any person or charity can access and use it to start from the current skill level of the person being trained. The resource will be free – a printable version for the trainer and one for the student will be provided.
The subjects we would cover would be for example:
Basic reading and writing skills
Basic budgeting skills
Basic computer and internet skills
How to look for vacancies
How to draw up a curriculum vitae
How to run your own business
How to open a bank account
Any resources that you can provide or suggestions of resources that you need will be much appreciated.
WHY WE WANT TO DO IT
We are not in a position to provide jobs or find employers just yet, but our aim is to provide the training for basic skills to empower and enrich the persons life so that they can find employment at their current skill level and grow from there. It doesn’t matter if the employment is permanent or part-time.
We would like individuals to assist us in their own private capacity. We merely came up with a concept to achieve a goal, and we named the project “PAY FOR A DAY”.
Many people want to help, but have no idea where to start. The idea is for an individual to use an unemployed person for a day – as an employee – and pay them i.e R150 for the day, which is what they would normally get paid for gardening.
Since you will be spending a day with them, you can do a skills analysis with this person to start assessing what they could benefit from. This is also a good place to impart some life skills and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the individual. A hot meal and a bath might also be a blessing you could provide, should you feel inclined to.
WHERE THE PROJECT CAME FROM
This project was inspired by a gentleman called Jacob. One of our volunteers spoke with him one evening. He had a viable business idea, but no money or any idea where to start. The volunteer (who had recently started her own business) told him about SEDA, the agency who assigned business grants to black entrepreneurs, and also about CIPRO next door, where he could register his business.
They went their separate ways. Months later, on the very same street, Jacob approached the volunteer and told her that he had gone to SEDA, received a grant and started a business with two friends. They had a contract with one of the government departments where they go around the office building daily, selling snacks and sandwiches to the employees.
All it took was for someone to share their knowledge. One person can indeed make a difference, just by taking a few minutes to speak with someone.