VIDEO: ‘Health hazard’ Struben shelter cleaned up

Some of the residents at Struben Shelter help clean the men's toilets at the Struben Shelter during the cleaning initiative. Photo: Keitumetse Maako

Residents recently helped clean up a shelter in Struben Street to prevent it from being declared a health hazard and shut down.

The clean-up was a shared initiative between the metro and two NGOs, namely Kopano Manyano and Future Families.

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“The shelter received very little assistance from the city,” said resident and internal committee member Brickzee Kronstander.

“The only help we want from the city is with property stands and permanent employment.”

“Even if they don’t give us any stands, we need jobs, permanent jobs. Having a permanent income would mean that we can strive for independence and move out.”

Residents appreciated the clean-up initiative but pointed out that they were already doing their best to maintain cleanliness, with what little they had, on a daily basis.

“We have 17 groups dedicated to cleaning,” said Kronstander. “When we can, we also donate towards purchasing cleaning supplies and equipment.”

He said notable changes had been made since he became a resident in 2011, but they were “not enough”.

A female resident, who wanted to remain anonymous, said finding employment was hard.

“After telling potential employers I live in a shelter, they offered to pay me only R10 to do their ironing,” she said.

ALSO READ: Clean-up rids Sunnyside of crime

Despite concerns about conditions at the shelter, one of the managers, Hazel Pienaar, said a doctor came every Tuesday to ensure those who needed medication received it and to check up on residents.

She also highlighted the struggle they faced with getting taps, leaks and other things repaired.

“This shower has been leaking for months now,” she showed Rekord a leaking showerhead.

Sometimes they had to wait for up to three years for things to be repaired, said Pienaar.

Another female resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said living in the shelter, as a female and mother was challenging.

She mentioned sanitary pads, food and clothing as being the major challenges.

“Living with addicts is also a challenge,” she said.

“They use needles and don’t put them away properly; our children could play with them. Other times, they smoke without taking the rest of us into consideration.”

Two other female residents, with children, noted their biggest challenge was being unemployed.

“Even the grant we receive isn’t enough. My child drinks milk which costs R300 for a big tin,” another said.

Other residents told Rekord they hoped the city would help them get jobs so they could provide for themselves and their children.

ALSO READ: Police clean up Garsfontein

Keitumetse Maako

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