u-turn 25 birthday

Hi, I’m Cathy. I’m a champion on the U-turn phase 3 work-readiness programme. My passion is communication and I’m part of the U-turn communication team. Every week I will be writing a blog post sharing my personal experience on this programme, to give you a window into the experience of being a champion on the U-turn programme.

In 2019 as a national chairperson of an NGO, I represented South Africa at a World Convention in Helsinki, Finland. As delegates we attended a reception hosted by Helsinki’s city leadership, and they spoke about how to minimise homelessness in Helsinki. As I was listening, I did not know that the next year homelessness would be knocking at my door.

As mentioned in my first blog. I became homeless after I loaned a lot of money to a friend for his business. He never paid me back and my own business was not doing well. What I thought was a good investment, cost me two very challenging years. You can read my first blog post here.

The 23 February 2020 was my last day in my apartment, I knew the next day that I would have to leave. I did not know where I was going. It was a Sunday and I served in the church. From the outside, it looked like it was a Sunday as usual for me. I served all five church services. Maybe I was expecting God to perform an eleventh-hour miracle. That evening I worshipped God wholeheartedly, believing a breakthrough was coming.

Monday, the dreaded day arrived. I did not know where I was going. Maybe again I thought that God would come through because He had done so many miracles in my life. Why would He not do it this time? I was singing worship songs unto God. That morning when I woke up, I thanked God that I would sleep in a warm bed and have a meal. At 10 o’clock the estate agents arrived. I handed them the keys to the apartment and told them they could have my washing machine and stove. I felt so bad that I was not able to pay my rent.

I decided to go to the library. I took my laptop, an overnight bag with clothes, a backpack with clothes, a bag with my bibles and journals, my jewellery in a cloth shopping bag and my handbag. I took a bag with files, which included my company financial files, my passport and my learner’s licence. I did not know where I was going.I braced myself that I might have to sleep on the streets, but hoped that it would not be my reality.

The estate agents were very gracious towards me and took me to the library, which would have been a 30-minute walk. At the library, I charged my mobile phone and used the free Wi-Fi. I first finished church administrative work. I then messaged my church connect group, I informed them of my situation and asked them if they would be able to assist me with accommodation.  Unfortunately, they were not able to help me. I then informed my church’s Pastoral Care leader. She asked somebody in our Pastoral Care team if I could stay with her for a few days. Before I went to the night shelter, I stayed with her for a few days and then my time was up.

The next few weeks and months would prove to be the most challenging of my life. Join me next week as I unpack my journey.