WATCH | A mother to all, she’s opening her heart and home to Cape Town’s most destitute

Everyone deserves a roof over their head. But in 2019, the City of Cape Town documented over 4 000 people as homeless – a number that's estimated to be even higher by local shelters.

Among the most vulnerable of these people are abandoned children and young women. Esme Julies is opening her home and heart to people in her community of Kalkfontein who have nowhere else to go, despite her meagre income.

“To me it's important to give because I grew up with a mother who cares and shares with everyone,” she says.

From her small, government-funded house, Julies established the Helping Hands NPO to provide basic necessities such as food, clothing and shelter to people in need.

But when homelessness in her community increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, capacity was exhausted.

Instead of turning people away, Julies sourced planks of wood and used it to construct 10 separate rooms in which she now accommodates 30 people.

In addition to this, Julies buys food and cooks for a hundred people every day out of her own pocket.

“No matter our personal struggles, there’s always time to help one another,” she says.

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Addressing the multiple factors that lead to a life on the streets, Julies also assists children with their homework, prepares unemployed youth in their search for a job, and offers trauma counselling to abused women.

“Sometimes all someone needs to get back on their feet is to know that someone cares,” she says.

Following in her mother’s footsteps, Julies is going beyond her circumstances to support her community.

“I love to help people,” she says. “I will help people until the day I am not there anymore.''