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Joburg shines light on Time for Change Home Print E-mail
20 July 2017
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Life in the big city has been very unkind to Silindile Ngobese.

After being chased away from home in Estcourt, KwaZulu-Natal, by her stepmother at the age of 14 – shortly after her mother died – Ngobese fled to Johannesburg to seek a better life.

Instead of finding a city paved with gold, she was confronted with more misery, hardship and suffering. The distant relatives and friends she stayed sent a clear message to her that she had overstayed her welcome.

Alone and scared in a big city, she was on the move again, this time to no particular destination. So began the life of sex work – to make a little bit of money to her head above the water – alcohol and drugs. For 16 years, her life was on a slippery slope, with each passing day looking gloomier than the one before.

Now aged 30 with three children – the fourth is on the way – she found some respite when a Good Samaritan she knows only as Sean, who took pity on her, referred her to Time for Change Community Home, a haven for homeless people at the Drill Hall in the Johannesburg inner city, about six weeks ago.

Although not really an ideal place to live in, the home – run by the City of Johannesburg and the University of Johannesburg – has given her some stability in her life and it is helping her to regain her dignity and sanity. And things are beginning to look up.

On Tuesday July 18 she received another pleasant surprise. Officials from the City’s Region F and representatives of the University of Johannesburg as well as of a number of faith-based organisations arrived at the centre with a bagful of clothes, food parcels, soap and blankets to donate to her, her children and other tenants in honour of the selfless deeds of the late former president Nelson Mandela, who would have turned 99 years old on Tuesday.

For Silindile, it gave her life more meaning. It gave her the zest to live and to be there for her children. It showed her that there were, like Mandela and Barbara Hill, founder of the Time for Change Home, people who cared about those who were less fortunate than themselves.

“It’s a godsend,” was all the emotional Silindile could say as she battled to find the right words to express her gratitude.

The home takes care of 16 adults and 33 teenagers, who come from different backgrounds and from various parts of the country.

Silindile said coming to the home was for her not an easy decision to make. “I had become tired of the way I was living. But it was a hard decision to drop what I was doing to just up and leave.

“But I eventually decided to do it for the sake of my young and beautiful children. I came here and was welcomed with open arms. The management of the home managed to find a school for my daughter, Nomthandazo, who is in Grade 9. I am happy to be here and grateful to the City of Johannesburg and the University of Johannesburg for making life easier for all of us here,” she said.

Hill has, however, appealed to the City to help her find Time for Change a place of its own. “There’s very little space in the Drill Hall as we share the building with other organisations. That’s why we are forced to turn away a large number of homeless individuals and street kids,” she said.

 

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Last Updated on 20 July 2017