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Homeless on the streets of Muizenberg for about nine years, Quintin McLaughlin once found his safety at night outside of The Masque Theatre.

Today McLaughlin is sober, employed, independent, and has the keys to his own apartment, and his story of triumph will now be shown to audiences inside that very same theatre.

“Shelter At The Masque”, is a short docu-film by NPO U-turn which equips people and communities with skills to overcome homelessness, about McLaughlin’s life as a homeless man who battled addiction.

McLaughlin lived on the streets 12 years ago, leaving his wife and children behind for an unpredictable life.

The 48-year-old said his wife could not cope with his drug addiction.

“I often found myself at the doorstep of The Masque Theatre. I had become a full-blown drug addict and ended up leaving home. Life was very tough on the streets because at first, I had to deal with the people, who had their own way of living and eventually learned to mingle.

“I used to hustle in the car parking lots, and scratch bins to feed my addiction,” he said.

McLaughlin’s life changed when he met Phinius Sebatsane, Founder and CEO of the Rea Thusana Foundation, who nurtured him and encouraged him to go to rehab.

“I went to rehab for three months and have been clean ever since. After that, I went to a U-turn (branch) where I was assisted. I became a volunteer and went on to become a champion and started learning working and life skills. That helped me greatly because today I am working and have an apartment in Pinelands,” he said.

He added that after turning his life around, he reunited with his four children, a journey he is still navigating.

“I was never a father, but now I am learning how to be that.

“At first, it was very strange because I never really had the chance due to the addiction.

“Shelter at the Masque is basically my life story and aims to inspire, help and get as many people off the streets as possible. The message behind the docu-film is for people to never give up hope, we are serving a living God, seek help and speak to somebody,” he added.

Sebatsane said that McLaughlin’s journey was a long process.

“We worked hard. I’m very proud of what he is becoming.

“He is one of the guys who became my friend. When I met him I was coming from Limpopo and I was welcomed by the homeless people, he was one of the guys who actually showed me kindness.

“Talking to him made me realise there is more to his life story. We have to focus on the concept of Ubuntu and that’s what led me towards him and I saw myself in him because I grew up in an orphanage. We related and built our relationship from that. He took ownership of his recovery and I just became a cheerleader, I am very proud of him,” he said.

McLaughlin’s story will be told in the short docu-film, ‘Shelter At The Masque’.
Quinique Jagers of U-Turn said that it took McLaughin about two to three years to get to where he is today.

“U-turn hosted a programme where we wanted to showcase how the champions overcame homelessness and everything that comes with that. I believe that it’s the lack of community support, and family support that drives people to the streets. Quintin wanted his story to be told.

“The docu-film covers his childhood dream, dynamics, and causes of homelessness, we are excited about it as it’s our first one,” she said.

Shelter At The Masque is showing at the Masque Theatre on July 26.

Doors open at 6pm and the docu-film will start at 7pm.

Tickets are R100 and R85 for pensioners and refreshments, hot coffee, and popcorn will be served.

To book tickets, visit: https://www. quicket.co.za/events/224684-shelter-at-the-masque/#/
Athandile Siyo, Cape Times

Originally published in the Cape Times on 14 July 2023

Photo: U-turn Homeless Ministries