[Hpn] A Night On The Street In A Street Childs Shoes

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Sun, 8 Aug 2004 14:59:07 -0400


A night in a street child's shoes

Elize Jacobs and Graeme Hosken

August 06 2004

It all started out as an exciting fundraising idea when students at the
Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) and representatives of local
businesses took up SAPS Inspector Owen Musiker's challenge to spend a day as
homeless people.

Musiker said when he spoke to the students and company representatives last
month, he challenged them to spend just one day in the shoes of a homeless
person, or child, as part of a social responsibility gesture.

They eagerly took up the challenge to spend Wednesday night, between 6pm and
6am, out in the open in Esselen and Celliers streets, Sunnnyside - just like
street children would.

The estimated 150 "one-night street sleepers" included students from the
university's fine arts faculty, as well as a Mrs South Africa finalist,
Mariette Chippindall, and businessmen from the motoring and retail

They were not allowed to have any food, money, cigarettes or a change of
They were not allowed to have any food, money, cigarettes or a change of
clothing on them, and had to beg if they wanted anything.

The aim was to highlight the plight of the children who have to survive on
the streets and to try and raise money for them.

It was an initiative by the Sunnyside police to show the harsh reality that
children and others living on the streets had to endure.

The major difference was that the volunteers had "police protection" when
they begged on the street and instead of being brushed off or insulted, most
motorists were amused and eager to give money towards their efforts.

Musiker said he wanted to show the volunteers just how hard life on the
street could be and how the children learned to beg and defend themselves
from attacks from a young age.

'Street children do not eat in restaurants'
But it was not just begging that the volunteers experienced first hand -
when they least expected it the police staged fake "robberies". This
frightening experience brought home to them the harsh reality of life on the

And after a night on the street there was another surprise. The volunteers
were taken to a pizza parlour in Menlyn, where the food was just shown to
them before being given to homeless children in shelters.

"Street children do not eat in restaurants," Musiker said.

This article was originally published on page 5 of Pretoria News on August
06, 2004

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