Love, warmth for homeless women

Rise Up, a welfare organisation, gives blankets to vulnerable women living on the streets.
Rise Up, a welfare organisation, gives blankets to vulnerable women living on the streets.
Image: SUPPLIED

A group of activists have started a project to help homeless survivors of gender-based violence across the country.

With the blanket drive, Rise Up, a nonprofit organisation, is reaching out to homeless women, saying they face abuse on the streets.

The organisation's Mandisa Khanyile said the women were vulnerable.

"Most of them face daily cruelty, rape and bullying from other man living on the street and resort to drug abuse. So, we decided to give them some love," Khanyile said.

She said the project started when she noticed a homeless woman sleeping on her vomit on the streets of Durban.

Khanyile said: "She was bleeding, shaking and cold. I felt helpless and everyone just walked passed her.

"I was told to leave her alone so I left a R50 note in her hand and left."

Khanyile said after that day, she became conscious of the vulnerability of the women living on the streets.

Khanyile said the organisation started getting donations and bought blankets for homeless women to help them keep warm, adding that Apple Floors has been working on the project with them.

"We also go to the streets and feed them, give them sanitary pads, food parcels and organise counselling in partnership with Lifeline."

Khanyile added that they had donated over 450 blankets to women in Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg, and that they were planning to give blankets to homeless women in Cape Town and Mahikeng as well.

"We plead for more people to give donations of blankets, sanitary pads, clothing and shoes to give to these woman.

"This is a way of giving them hope even after they have given up on themselves.

"We have partnered with rehabilitation centres where we get them booked in to start their recovery process."

Khanyile said women living on the streets had different reasons for being there, including abusive home situations and economic reasons.

"Some are victims of abuse, some ran away from painful pasts and marriages and speaking to them has made me realise they just need help, support and love," she said.

Khanyile said Rise Up has "volunteers who have committed to helping vulnerable women and we have made so much difference".

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