Jul 31

The following is the presentation write up from the July I had the pleasure of attending the 22nd South African National Association of Child and Youth Care & 4th CYC-Net world conference in Durban South Africa:

How Can I Be Homeless When I Just Left One? An Observation from Working on the Streets of Pietermaritzburg with Young People by Thamsanqa Gcwabaza & Rob Ng-Yu-Tin, from Life Changer

“What do we mean by the word home? Is it a house? An address? A bed to sleep in? A family? Perhaps we need to explore what we mean by homeless and perhaps consider it as ‘houseless’. We are living in the aftermath of the HIV Pandemic. Our reality now is an emerging group of older vulnerable youth and young adults who are making a living off the streets. Many of these predominantly young men have lived in multiple homes, had an array of significant care givers, and been in informal kinship care or formal foster care. Some have been adopted and even lived in residential care. But now? They find them themselves without a family, with no idea of who to turn to, ask for advice and seek refuge. They are seen as beggars, filthy down-and-outs who have made bad choices. We have even heard them referred to as vermin. These young adults were possibly once celebrated as newborns. A celebration to a family. They grew up being offered some love, and family. Where do these young people go once faced with huge hardship? Huge emotional psychological and behavioural problems. All desperate for love, affirmation and a family. To add to that child and youth care centres struggle to want to accept these children in care, and social workers don’t know what to do.

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