u-turn 25 birthday

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]In light of Easter coming up, in the midst of a crisis, we decided to shift the focus and share positive and inspiring stories of #SelflessService from people who support our work.

Katlyn Sebatsane is an American volunteer married to a South African. She is a shining light, soft- spoken and tends to avoid drawing attention to herself. In fact, one might think Katlyn was shy until you see her leading a group therapy session at U-turn Service Centre for people who are currently homeless.

When Katlyn was 12 years old in America, she wrote a research paper at school on South Africa and homelessness. Over a decade later she is volunteering with U-turn and the homeless in South Africa. She has been volunteering at U-turn’s First Phase Service Centre for people still living on the street for months before Covid-19 and she continues despite the risk of the virus.

“Where I’m from there is not a lot of homelessness. From the first time I came to Cape Town, I was blown away by the sheer number of people living on the streets, by the fact that it had become so normal”, she says. “Seeing that really burdened my heart.”

Katlyn volunteers at the Service Centre in Claremont, facilitating Ignite group therapy sessions once a week. The rest of the week she helps in the soup kitchen, with upcycling fabric and as she says, “whatever needs to be done I am there to do it.”

In addition to volunteering at U-turn, every Sunday Katlyn and her husband, along with a few close friends, go out onto the streets of Muizenberg for street bible study with men and women that have become friends,” we call them family now.”

When we ask Katlyn what inspires her, she speaks of following in Christ’s example and of how Jesus served. “I said, God whatever plans you have, use me and He has done that.” We then ask Katlyn what she thinks of selfless service, she says, “The foundation of selfless service has to be respect. You can’t serve someone from a position of feeling that you’re above them. When you look into the eyes of someone society calls worthless and see their value, then of course all you can do is serve them.”

During the Covid-19 crisis more than 50 volunteers have stepped forward to assist U-turn and our NPO partners during this critical time. She says, “It really is such a beautiful thing to witness all the different members working in unity towards one common goal.” It’s been a challenging time and lessons have been learned.

For Katlyn, the biggest lesson that has been reinforced is this: “Fear should never be a motivator. Having spent time at the U-turn Service Centre during this time I have seen that fear does not have to hinder you. You can still serve and love people but fear doesn’t have to stop you.”

To find out more about U-turn’s Coronavirus Response, go to homeless.org.za/appeal[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]