05 February 2012

day five: u-turn

On Monday in Capetown we served with a homeless organization called uTurn. They had a beautiful vision in that they believed true change effectively happens by changing the way of thinking within a poor and marginalized person's life. Instead of giving out free food and clothes, they provided vouchers that may be redeemed after services are done in exchange (cleaning, helping to repair things, etc.) for those vouchers. This is similar to the age old adage: give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime. This process is first done through building relationships within the homeless community which then progresses to rehabilitation and finally reintegration into "normal living" (permanent accommodation, regular employment, etc). I thought this was such a wonderful challenge for helping those in need. Sometimes giving them what they need at that moment isn't actually what is most helpful. This method requires an investment in relationship, community, and person. And after all, isn't that what we're called to anyway?

The way we helped uTurn was not exactly how we expected! We actually didn't interact with any of the homeless community, but instead helped with more administrative and housekeeping tasks. uTurn had an entire room full of donated clothes that we spent the whole day sorting! Sean (who worked at uTurn) told us that it would normally take 9 months-1 year to make the progress on sorting the donations that we made in one day! What joy it brought us being able to serve and help in such a practical way.

uTurn's second-hand clothing store

They had shelf after shelf after shelf after shelf.....of donated items.

Las Vegas, Nevada!

for a creative, colourful life.

Jeff had the pleasure of sorting out the clothes that were soiled or stained and couldn't be used.

South African Airways donated bags of their uniforms!

This room was completely full when we started.

Liz and Lindy organizing the clothing store.
after a long day of sorting clothes...
our team!

Check out more about uTurn on their website or their facebook page. 

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