Working a full-time job while also running a charity seems like an impossible task, but for Hewitt de Jager, it is part of a normal day.
Mr De Jager and his wife, Linzelle, are the co-founders of HewLin Compassion, a non-profit organisation, that helps street people.
“Our goal is to empower people living on the streets and help them get their lives back on track,” Mr De Jager said.
“We began first by going out to the streets and actually speaking to people living on the streets and trying to find out how they can get back on their families and homes. We feel that it is important to build relationships with them and help them to empower themselves while also understanding them.”
Mr De Jager, a data manager for the Department of Health who is based at the Tygerberg Hospital, said he and his wife had started the organisation as a way to give back to the community and help those in need.
“I am originally from George, and when I moved to Cape Town, I became involved in youth ministries in Athlone, and that is where I met my wife.
We then moved to Durbanville, and we asked ourselves what is the purpose of us living here, and that is when we identified all of the people living on the streets in the area.”
The organisation runs several projects to help street people including a performing arts school at its Kraaifontein office.
Mr De Jager said: “Once we establish the relationship, we then give them access to all of our programmes to suit their needs. For the dignity project, we will identify where the person lives and if there’s anything we can do to make that home more suitable for them to go back to. Sometimes we provide them with food while other times it’s a case of making some repairs to the house or providing counselling sessions for various problems that could have a negative impact on the household.
The Passion Squad provides skill development among the younger members while they also have a chance to express themselves via our performing arts programme, which runs every weekend.”
The WonByOne Programme gets street people to return to their original homes. Mr De Jager said 25 of the 27 people who had joined the programme in Parow last year were now back home.
“Whether they go back to their families or not, we still provide counselling sessions for them, and we also do regular check-ups on them to ensure that they are still using the tools that were taught to them.”
HewLin Compassion also helps children living on the streets.
Last week it hosted children from Bellville, Parow, Leonsdale, Elsies River, Kuils River and Steenberg at the Melkbosstrand Cultural Centre.
“We enter the children into a three-month programme where we provide counselling sessions and relevant talks with the children while one week during the second month, we host a convention for them. The last month, we get them back to their families and keep an eye on their progress,” Mr De Jager said.