Lions’ share

Jedi Knight from Bellville.

An activist helping homeless people has been given a top honour by Goodwood’s Merriman Lions Club.

Danny Oosthuizen received the Louis Volks Humanitarian Award at the Lions clubhouse in Dirkie Uys Street on Saturday June 10.

During the ceremony, the club paid tribute to several people for serving their communities.

The Louis Volks award, one of the club’s highest honours, is given annually to someone who is a Lion or not, for “attention to their fellow man”.

Mr Oosthuizen is part of the Dignity Project, launched by the Cape Argus in 2016, which focuses on the plight of homeless people in the Cape Town CBD.

In their tribute to Mr Oosthuizen, Merriman Lions said the award recognised “unsung heroes”.

“He is pro-active in trying to improve relationships with street people, residents, commerce and the CCID (Central City Improvement District),” the Club said.

The club donated 100 goodie bags to the Dignity Project, to be distributed to seniors who are homeless in the city.

“It will improve the lives of 100 people who have ended in this situation through no fault of their own,” said outgoing club president Clive Fox.

Mr Oosthuizen, in a note on Facebook before receiving the award, said he was humbled by the accolade.

He said he had always had a soft spot for those in need.

“It came natural to me. And I could chat to a sex worker the same as to a priest. I had little regard for what people have done in their life,” he said.

Mr Oosthuizen explained how the Dignity Project had changed people’s perceptions of what it meant to be homeless.

“We just want to be recognised as human, as equals,” Mr Oosthuizen said. “When you have nothing, and people treat you as nothing, you become nothing,” he said, gesturing to his head, indicating the loss of self-worth that often goes along with finding yourself on the streets.

It was a big day for Lions as the international organisation celebrated it centenary – it started in Chicago, in America, on June 17, 1917. It was the idea of businessman Melvin Jones and joined together different clubs under the Lions umbrella.

Saturday’s ceremony in Goodwood also celebrated the 60th anniversary of Lionism in southern Africa and the 52nd charter anniversary of the Merriman Lions Club.

“This club has offered help in the community for 52 years”, said district governor Lance Maytham.

He also announced that the Lions Club of Henties Bay had pledged R200 000 to help the victims of last week’s devastating fires in Knysna. To celebrate its centenary, all Lions Clubs in South Africa and Namibia have service projects on Saturday.

Additional reporting: Cape Argus