Akanani is a Tsonga word meaning “let us build together”. It was previously known as the Street Ministry and started its work with the adult homeless communities of the inner city in 1997.
Akanani works mostly with Street Homelessness, referring to those who are economically, situational, chronically and ‘near’ homeless. We have the following programmes and services:
- Drop-in Centre
- Outreach Programme
- Victim and Perpetrators Empowerment Programme
- Refugee-Aid programme
- Job Preparation
- Employment Centre
At the drop-in centre we provide counselling, food and toiletry parcels, psycho-social support, clothing, as well as referrals to other service providers. Various workshops, such as health talks and gender programmes are offered regularly at Akanani.
The main focus of the outreach programme is to make contact and nurture relationships with vulnerable people that do not make use of the drop-in centre. During outreach, all the services of the drop-in centre is advertised and food is also distributed to the most vulnerable who live on the streets of Pretoria.
The night outreaches take place twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) from 19h00-22h00. The day outreaches take place from Monday to Thursdays from 10h00-13h00 in various places in the city.
Victim Empowerment Programme
There exists a myth that men cannot be victims of abuse. Because of this, many men and boys do not report when they are victims of abuse and are ashamed. It is estimated that 3 in every 10 victims of abuse are men. Men and boys that are victims of abuse, are usually too scared to report the incident to the local authorities and their abuse goes unnoticed.
Akanani’s victim empowerment programme aims to break this stigma and support men and boys who are victims of abuse. The programme offers support to boys and men who were and are victims of domestic violence and other forms of abuse. The programme also works in collaboration with the Potter’s House, with the perpetrators of abuse.
Akanani offers workshops on gender-related themes to children at schools as well as men.
The aim of the victim empowerment programme is to break the silence of abuse and to ensure that the circle of continued violence ends.
Refugee Aid Programme
Pretoria is a catch basin for many refugees that enter South Africa. They are not always treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. Refugees easily become victims of abuse or exploitation and they end on the streets. Once they are on the streets, the changes of find pathways out of homelessness becomes less likely.
We have a dedicated refugee social worker working with refugees and asylum seekers to assist them with getting the necessary documents and ensuring they are not exploited.
Vulnerable men living on the street are not always able to create and print CV’s. Akanani helps community members by providing access to resources so that they are able to search for possible employment, create and print their CV’s.
Many vulnerable, homeless people lost their identity documents, passports, or certificates and do not have sufficient funds to replace it. Akanani helps community members to obtain their relevant identity documents and certificates.
Going for an interview is intimidating enough, not having the right documents and identification sets vulnerable men back even more. Akanani wants to holistically support vulnerable men to end the cycle of poverty. We therefore provide community members with formal clothing that they borrow for an interview. Borrowing rather giving the formal clothes means that more community members can be helped.
A large part of Akanani’s work is dedicated to advocacy. Akanani advocates for and with men and boys who are vulnerable and homeless. Part of advocacy is to address the injustices in the system such as the lack of policy in terms of homelessness; stand in solidarity with people of are victims of evictions; addressing the issues where homeless people are harassed by local authorities; and situations where homeless people are treated without dignity.
For vulnerable people, access health care is one of the most difficult things. Homeless people are stigmatised and not always treated with dignity at health care facilities. Therefore, together with the Gilead Health Unit, Akanani renders health services to vulnerable people on the streets. This includes, but is not limited to, basic wound care, nutrition support, healthy lifestyles support, TB and HIV/AIDS awareness and testing campaigns
The Akanani Employment Centre is the latest programme of Akanani. The aim of the Akanani Employment Centre is give the necessary training and preparation for vulnerable people to be able to find employment.
The Akanani Employment Centre links up with companies to place potential employees with potential employers. The Akanani Employment Centre screens each person, ensuring they have the necessary skills and are job-ready.
Who are we talking about?
Homelessness is everywhere and not limited to one specific part of the world, country of city. There are four categories of homelessness:
- Economic homelessness
- People who are homeless and unemployed, sometimes even having a home in another part of the country but being on the streets of the city in search of sustainable livelihood. In this category would also be people who might earn a small income but who cannot access affordable housing in the market. The largest percentage of street homeless people in the city today seems to fall into this category.
- Situational homelessness
- People who are homeless as a result of a specific temporary crisis, such as domestic violence or abuse, refugees or asylum seekers, people released from prison or psychiatric hospitals with no place to go to, conflict within families and across generations over properties, inheritances, or accusations of witchcraft.
- Chronic homelessness
- People who are on the streets as a result of chronic mental health or substance abuse problems. Access to employment is therefore a problem and therefore also access to sustainable housing options.
- “Near” homelessness
- Thousands of people who are in particularly precarious circumstances and at risk of becoming homeless any day. They include people in correctional services and psychiatric hospitals, due for release or discharge; children from child-headed households; young women who are in “sex for money” relationships; and many other particularly vulnerable individuals and families.