The Street Store

I wanted to write this while the experience still felt raw and real.

I really love living in Stellies. Most would agree that it must be one of the most beautiful places in the world, let alone South Africa. What a real-right treat to live to here.

Yet not even this picturesque and seemingly perfect town can deny the realities of poverty. The contrast between have and have- not is extremely evident in this little gem.

If you are like me, you probably have experienced the frustration of wanting to do something proactive but not knowing where to even begin.

So when I heard an advert on the radio about the Street Store - I had to see more. The Street Store is a global concept, whereby one is able to host a free pop -up shop for homeless people. As soon as I heard this — I really wanted to spectate — I was very interested to see how this would take place — as in theory it sounded incredible.

All I can say is that I was truly humbled by the entire experience. Homeless men and woman with the biggest of smiles lined up to browse, and choose any 4 items of clothing. What struck me was how excited these people were — the dignity that the store provided was really thought-provoking for me.

I realized the novelty lay in the fact, that these people, were able to actually find and choose something that they really liked.

One lady found the most glorious pair of boots. I saw an old soul, with dirt on her face and tattered clothes transform into a small girl within minutes. She oohed and ahhed over these boots like they were the most wonderful thing she had ever been given. In that moment I really felt something so real and authentic.

Another man who captured my heart was Graham. Graham sleeps near to the Checkers ajacent to Mugg n Bean. He has been on the streets for a mere 4 months. He used to build Greenhouses before this and he even had Facebook. He said he had made some mistakes. Now he cannot seem to get out of the rut he has found himself in. He is extremely intelligent and I found myself chatting to him like I would any other person — yet we were worlds apart. His realities, ones that I could never understand.

One man who came to shop got so excited about a second -hand belt. Prior to this, his holey pants had never been able to stay up. He had been living in the constant embarrassment that his pants would suddenly drop to the ground at any given moment. This belt was such a novelty for him. And he wondered off with a great toothless smile.

The Street Store is an extremely amazing concept. I also found that people are very willing to donate clothes and that it is not at all a difficult thing.

I often get despondent about how many people are destitute in our country. Sometimes I even get a bit frustrated when you walk down the road and get asked by 5 different people for money — all within the space of 10 minutes.

I’m slowly changing though. I don’t want to get irritated anymore.

I want to really see. To see the stories. And more importantly — to see the people.

“Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house, when you see the naked to cover him and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you ; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard…if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and gloom be as the noonday”

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