More than 500 young people, including Johannesburg-based Activator, Mzwandile Msimang, joined forces to spread much needed warmth to the inner city’s homeless as they took to the streets to hand out bags of clothing to the many shack dwellers and people living on the streets around Newtown just as the first serious cold front hit the Highveld last month.
“This year’s Dress Jozi was an unprecedented success with many more young people joining in and much more support received in the form of clothing donations as well as marketing and logistical support from both the city council, government and private organisations,” says Neo Kuaho, founder of YDIdi and Dress Jozi.
The annual event this year received welcome additional support from YFM, The City of Johannesburg, City Year SA, Harambee, PrinceMed, SAPS – Joburg Central Department, JDA, Bredwinna, My Hands & Heart, Shoprite Foundation, Lead-SA, Employed Youth Challenge and Black Stars, he said.
“As much as the initiative benefits the city’s indigent with clothing and food parcels, it is remarkable to witness the impact the experience has on the young participants who gather to walk and donate. Without fail they leave with a profound change in perspective and a renewed sense of ambition and more often than not, go on to become better citizens in their own communities after realising just how fortunate they are.”
According the Kuaho, the event often has even more impactful positive consequences than the clothing and sustenance that is handed out. ”
“In June 2012 for example, we came across Noluthando, who at the time was living under the Newtown Bridge and wanted desperately to write her matric exams. However, she didn’t have an identity document which meant she was unable to register to write her matric exams. Our team immediately set to work to trace her both her educational records and birth certificate and she was able to get the necessary documentation and successful sit for her Grade 12 examination.””
When first mooted in 2012, Kuaho says YDIdi was looking for an initiative that was bold enough to capture young people’s imagination. We were considering volunteering our time and resources at various shelters but then realised that we needed a unique event that could really address the needs of this group of destitute people which is often bypassed by the official support systems from the Department of Social Development.
“We have received so much interest from young people around the country that our next step will definitely be to take the project nationally in the near future.”