Shelter seeks volunteers to serve on committee

Haven Night Shelter staff, CEO Hassan Khan, Wynberg manager Pius Okiror and operations manager Carmen Hermanus.

Wynberg’s The Haven Night Shelter for the homeless is looking for volunteers to join its committee.

The shelter, in Piers Road, across from Maynardville Park, was undergoing its weekly sanitising on Thursday June 24.

Manager Pius Okiror said they had adapted well to Covid-19 and had managed to reunite some of the shelter residents with their families, including one frail woman, Angelique Sita, who, with the shelter’s help, returned to her family in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“She only spoke French; the process was hard and the airline requested that we organise an escort who is a medical personnel practitioner,” said Mr Okiror.

“With help from the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations, we arranged for a social worker from the DRC to escort her.

“At Easter, we received pictures of a smiling Ms Sita with her family.”

In another case, Robert Ongom, a client from Uganda, died, and the shelter held a memorial for him and, with help of Ugandan High Commission, arranged for Mr Ongom’s remains to be returned to Uganda.

The Haven Night Shelter CEO Hassan Khan said shelter staff had performed very well under Covid-19 circumstances. “They enhanced hygiene cleaning regularly and repeatedly, wearing personal protective equipment and persuading clients to wear extra clothing so areas could be well ventilated,” he said.

The shelter’s operations manager, Carmen Hermanus, said they had double sittings at meal times for physical distancing.

“There was some resistance, with some buying into conspiracy theories,” she said. “Other challenges were restrictions on movements. But we had amazing support from the Department of Health and their Red Dot taxis and False Bay Hospital for taking clients for testing and if necessary quarantine.”

Mr Hassan said volunteer board members needed to put aside two to four hours a month to play an oversight role. They would also need to read reports and approve payments.

Mr Okiror said the Wynberg building’s bathrooms and water-tank pump needed maintenance.

Future plans included building cabins on the property to add 20 beds to the existing 40, said Mr Khan.

The Haven Night Shelter Welfare Organisation, an NGO, was founded 43 years ago. Wynberg Haven is one of 15 shelters in the province, including ones in Sea Point, District Six, Woodstock, Claremont, Bellville and Retreat.

“The Haven Night Shelter is a home away from home. The homeless people that come here have a cupboard and bed, and we try within six months to reunite them with their family and to reintegrate them into the community,” said Mr Okiror.

Visit www.haven.org.za/donate, call 021 425 4700 or WhatsApp Mr Khan at 083 281 0339 if you would like to help the shelter.

The Haven Night Shelter in Wynberg is in Piers Road, across from Maynardville Park,
The shelter offers the homeless a place to stay until they can be reunited with their families or reintegrated into the community.
The dining and recreational area.
One of the men’s bathrooms at Wynberg’s The Haven Night Shelter.
Haven Night Shelter staff, CEO Hassan Khan, Wynberg manager Pius Okiror and operations manager Carmen Hermanus.
Angelique Sita with her granddaughters after being returned with the shelter’s help to her family in the Democratic Republic of Congo.