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Homelessness and Hunger: The O.W.L. Haven Shelter and FoodForward SA Working Together for Lasting Change

Homelessness and hunger are pressing issues that continue to affect many South Africans. In Cape Town, down the road from our Cape Town warehouse, one of our beneficiary organisations, The Ottery, Wetton, Lansdowne Shelter (O.W.L), has been working tirelessly to provide a home and food for those who need it.

The O.W.L. Haven Shelter in Lansdowne, Cape Town, is one of 2,580 beneficiary organisations in FoodForward SA’s network. The “OWL Haven” is registered with the Department of Social Development as a shelter for homeless adults and offers accommodation, ranging from 6 – 9 months to a total of 80 vulnerable people. In addition to shelter and meals (three a day), the organisation also provides a range of social development programmes to help individuals get back on their feet.

Ms Phoccia Titus, who has been managing The OWL Haven since 2011, says “FoodForward SA’s support is critical” to their operations and impact. “We can’t afford not to be part of the FoodForward SA network. If this happens, we will pay more than R30 000 a month for food. Currently, we only pay R2000 a month for additional food groceries.”

The money they save on their monthly groceries bill help them facilitate important personal – and skills development programmes. They focus on, among others, family reunification opportunities, conflict resolution -, trust-building – and communication workshops for residents and, if applicable, their family members. The plan is to partner with The Red Cross Society to host family relations workshops, and also offer substance abuse workshops and manage medical referrals.

Residents are also given the opportunity to work and earn. Their unemployed beneficiaries contribute to laundry cleaning, security and can also help clean clothing hangers. This initiative is offered in collaboration with Beeline Clothing and Woolworths. “Residents who participate in this programme and who work in our vegetable garden are paid for their work,” says Titus.

A total of 24 children also visits the shelter, daily, for food. The OWL Haven hopes to start an outreach programme that will include giving them the opportunity to focus on their homework whilst they are there. During this time, the children receive a nutritious meal to eat and many of them get food to take home for their families.  The OWL Haven joined FoodForward SA’s network of beneficiary organisations in 2013.

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