Local organisation Buffalo City Caregivers spent Saturday afternoon feeding 105 homeless people at the Ark Farm outside Gonubie. The inspiration behind the organisation is its chair Yolanda Toni’s mother who used to dish up a meal for a homeless man every day.
“When I was young, my mother used to feed a homeless person every day. I used to mark the chair and eating utensils he used, so that I wouldn’t use them. In 2009, he never came back to our home,” said Toni
“The following year, I went to university in Pretoria where I saw more homeless people. That made me feel very bad for mistreating the man that used to eat supper at my home.
“I made it a point back at university that I share my food with the homeless people who would stand outside of campus,” said Toni.
She said she carried on with this when she returned to East London which inspired her to start Buffalo City Caregivers.
“Every weekend, we make sandwiches and distribute them all over East London to homeless people,” she said.
“There are nine people active in the organisation. We use our own finances to buy food, but recently a company called Flat Foot sponsored us with groceries worth R4,500. Buffalo Toyota made banners for the company and Sasko Bread donated loaves.
“The main purpose is for us to interact with people, and also try to see where we can help them regarding the issues they face on a daily basis.
“Our mission is to offer insight, support and advice through various methods. We strive to provide a meal, an ear and any other means necessary. We work towards removing them from the streets into productive avenues. Our vision is to provide personal interaction with the homeless people through rehabilitation,” said Toni.
Deputy chairperson Siyabulela Mntuyedwa said the challenge they were currently facing was lack of support from government stakeholders; department of social development and home affairs.
“We have recently found out that some of these homeless people, especially children do not have identification documents, which meant they could not access social grants. So we need help from the right people to assist us with this issue,” said Mntuyedwa.
The public can get hold of Buffalo City Caregivers by visiting their social media pages, e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Toni at 071-020-5632.