Those living on the streets matter too


Today we live in a world where young people go through a lot of struggles and most of the time they receive no emotional or any other support. Commonly known struggles faced by the youth in South Africa are unemployment, drug or substance problems and lack of education.

Due to the absence of support, mentorship and suitable role models, young people may stray out of their path and find themselves in situations that may complicate and ruin their entire future. Some of these situations may result in them living in the cold streets of cities.

The lack of respectable role models in communities contributes tremendously to young men falling on the sharp claws of peer pressure and getting involved in criminal activities. This often results in the loss of their sense of individuality and they end up “becoming” the group itself. When their behaviour becomes affected and uncontrollable, they become a major problem to their families and communities; in some cases their families would simply kick them out of the house.

Now, where is a young man to go when he is kicked out of his home; the neighbour’s house, perhaps? I doubt the neighbours would be that keen on taking in a homeless misfit. These young men find refuge on the streets. They make a home where no one else would ever dream of. Every day they must do their utmost best to get something to eat, and to sleep on.

It is well known that human beings have incredible survival instincts and no matter how hard life can hit them there will always be that need to survive. These young men become survivalist when they’re thrown on the streets; for some it’s much easier to commit criminal activities, while others try to obtain an informal job and rehabilitate themselves.

Most of the time we ignore their existence in the streets, perhaps, it’s because of our deeply unconscious fear of people that may seem like social outliers, but what if we embraced our humanity and lent them a hand or two? Would that dent our image? Would it disruption the functioning of our comfortable lives? 

Nomsa Ngwenya thought not! This beautiful and warm-hearted lady from Johannesburg could not help but do all she could to get these young men the help they needed. She decided to rise and provide meals for these homeless young men, while everyone else sunk into their “perfect” reality and comfort of their lives. Nomsa was kind enough to lend me some of her time to tell her story.


What inspired you to start providing meals for the homeless?

It all started last year in December (2017), when I decided to skip my leave and work instead. One day on my way home from work I saw these young men by the bridge on Commissioner Street and I realized how bad the conditions they were living in were. The sudden need to help overwhelmed me. When I got home I tried to shake the feeling off, but it would not go away, there was this void and this voice that kept pushing me to take action. The next morning, I woke up with a clear mission, I bought bread and I went to feed them.

Do you work alone?

Yes, I do this all by myself, but I’ve had some people come through to help. I could use more hands, because it’s not that easy to do all this alone.

How often do you do this?

I do it once a week, because I can’t afford to do it every day. I do receive some donations from people sometimes and that helps a lot.

How do you manage all the costs?

I buy everything with my own money, but sometimes I do get donations from people and I am able to feed these young men. I even started my own company (Kiddeos) this year, which is still in development, but it will initially start by producing t-shirts with motivational messages printed on them.  The profit I will make from the t-shirts will go into rehabilitating them.

What are the obstacles you have encountered so far?

Working alone and finding donations has been a bit challenging. I could honestly use a couple of volunteers and donors. The other problem I encountered was having one of the boys I helped get into rehab relapse. This broke my heart, but it did not break my spirit. I continued to help others and hoped for the better.

Are there no homeless shelters that can take them in?

There are, but the ones I know of require payment to take people in. These boys do not work nor have money, so they can’t really afford to pay that fee. This gets hard in winter since they sleep under a bridge with cardboards as covers.

What can people do to help?

People can come through and volunteer or donate anything that can be of use. This includes; clothes, shoes, blankets, and food. I would really appreciate it a lot.


When Nomsa saw the hard reality of her community, she decided to take a stand. If only more people would exit the bubble that keeps them safe and blinds them from the true nature of their world such problems would be less intense. The youth needs guidance and support, if you happen to see that someone is straying out of their path, intervene and show them the right way.


By Tebogo J. Mphatswe



South African News

SA Popular News


SA Latest News

World Stock