Mixed free accommodation, threatens the lives of LGBTQ+ community as they struggle with homophobic violence.(more…)
Wits students give back by going green with The Green Bag Project
Scores of students still in limbo. (more…)
A new project to create awareness about homeless students sleeping in campus libraries and computer labs, is gaining attention.
The project was spearheaded by a Wits master’s student, as part of her academic research. It aims to give voice to students living in computer labs and libraries on campus.
The hope is that through exposing this on-going issue, there would be some solutions by the Wits community to help those who do not have the financial means for proper accommodation.
As part of a project for theatre as activism, education and therapy, masters in applied drama student Susie Maluleke chose the topic as she remembers seeing students sleeping in the CNS labs on campus since first year.
The project plan consists of hosting workshops at the project sites: the computer labs and libraries, to ask students whether they know that their peers use the same space for sleeping or living.
Additionally, with the help of classmates, Maluleke will put up displays of make-shift sleeping spots, “I’m going to provide a blanket to create a sleeping display, but not a comfortable sleeping place to make people realise the space is used for different purposes.”
Maluleke identified the students through their “huge bags”.
“You could see these people weren’t living anywhere outside that space.”
At the time Maluleke felt there was nothing she could do, but now she has an opportunity to address the issue by creating dialogue around it and find help for these students by talking about it.
A friend of hers knew someone who spent two years living and sleeping in the labs, “because they didn’t qualify for financial aid from NSFAS”. Students struggle to afford accommodation off campus and transport costs for places outside Johannesburg are also hard to cover.
Maluleke had a friend who was sleeping in the computer labs because she could not afford to pay for taxi services from Wits to Soweto every day. “They don’t have bus services, they don’t have scholarships.”
She was particularly struck by the fact that there was no visible information in labs indicating where students could seek help. “It saddens me. There must be something that can be done about these people.”
Lecturer Cherae Halley who gave the students the project as part of their course said they were required to find a community or site to address a social issue for their final year project. In previous years, students raised awareness about the sexual assault by lecturers on students, according to Halley.
Even though this is course work, this project could possibly help the homeless students, through raising awareness.
Her supervisor Anthony Schrag commended Maluleke for taking on a local and context specific project that resonated with national issues. “We have these positions of privilege that people sort of access but not really access. You get to go to Wits but you might not be able to afford to eat or live.”
The project is only in its beginning stages and will continue until the end of the semester. However, Maluleke hopes the impact of the project will be big enough to continue even after she graduates. She hopes that Wits would create a body for students to go to for help.
She does, however, know of a student in the same situation who received help from Wits Services.
“She is trying to challenge those departments and challenge them to do more about it. If she makes an impact future students that arrive here might not find themselves here, said Schrag.
Maluleke will only know how successful the project is once it is complete. “Success for me will be creating dialogue within those spaces. Make people engage or talk.” Schrag agreed, “With art you don’t really know until you do it.”
Halley sees the potential of the project to grow and impact the Wits community.
- Wits Vuvuzela. R60-m “not enough” for needy students. April 12, 2013.
Teecee Boley spends a day with a homeless man on the streets of Johannesburg, in the middle of the winter, to understand the unique challenges he faces on a daily basis.
“Move away, go!”, a security guard shouts at Azisa. The 35-year old former KwaZulu-Natal resident spends his days on the streets of Johannesburg, begging for money, finding shelter and rummaging through rubbish bins for any edible food. Being chased away by security guards is just a normal part of his day as a homeless man in the city of gold.
Azisa, who refused to give his surname, was released from prison a year ago where he spent the last three years for theft. His mother died while he in prison and his younger sister has been taken in by some relatives. With no money, a criminal record to his name and no identity document (ID), finding any kind of job is impossible. But finding a job is one of his lowest priorities, staying warm in plunging temperatures is his biggest challenge.
The 8am morning sun provides a little heat but winter has been tough on him. His only set of clothes is not warm enough and he does not have a blanket.
“The cold is hurting my bones and my leg is swollen,” he says, removing his sneakers to expose a leg badly in need of medical attention.
Azisa is happy to follow the security guard’s orders. As we speak, he moves away from under a tree at the Johannesburg theatre where he had spent the previous night. He takes his small black backpack which contains everything he owns and moves to the park across from the theatre.
The park presents two opportunities – one, to get heat from the sun and another, to beg for money. At midday, he gives up on the begging and heads to Park Station for a bath.
“I must pay R10 to clean my body. You see, I am smelling because I have not cleaned for two weeks,” he says pointing to his dirty clothes.
It’s 1:30pm as he heads to lunch. Rummaging through a rubbish bin outside the station, a smile lights up his face as he discovers a packet of fried chicken leftovers. His lunch is followed by a short nap and about two hours later, he starts begging again, this time in desperation for a blanket.
As the day comes to an end Azisa tries to find a place to settle down for the night. Despite the near freezing temperatures ahead of him, he remains hopeful: “If I just get the ID I will find a job, rent a place, marry and have two children.”
Lebo Radebe and Sibusiso Chiba are two of the many homeless people prowling the city of Johannesburg.
They are scavengers for food, for drugs, for shelter on the bitterly cold pavements, for anything that can make their lives a little better.
Poverty and hunger have brought these two young men together.
They are among the more than 24 million people who go hungry in South Africa. With unemployment and poverty levels rising, the number of people who are food secure could increase. While other people scavenge for food in the waste dumps and dustbins, Sbusiso and Lebo collect and sell scrap metal.
Although they support each other and look out for one another, they are not always in agreement about their value system as they eke out a life on the street.
This video is a production of the 2014 Wits Journalism short course in television.
#NekNomination, a social media challenge, has flooded profile pages and time lines of young people around the world. Formerly a drinking game, #NekNominations are now used to encourage people to do good.
A person or organisation challenged does an activity that helps someone else out, then passes along the challenge. It’s sort of like a electronic chain letter for charity.
The Wits Vuvuzela team (#teamvuvu), was challenged in a #NekNomination from Wapad, the student publication of the North West University. We had 24 hours to take on the challenge of making a difference and recording it.
Wits Vuvuzela reporters hit the streets of Braamfontein to hand out cupcakes to the homeless. But we also wanted to ask the homeless what they needed because sometimes a simple gesture is not enough.