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Kerry Hoffman spent a day sharing soup and sandwiches with people living on the street and that experience led to the establishment of Souper Troopers, a level 1 B-BBEE contributor, registered NPO and PBO that aims to restore dignity to homeless people and help them reintegrate into society, thereby achieving its purpose of eradicating homelessness.
Souper Troopers holds regular gatherings together with volunteers, both homeless and homefull. We invite homeless guests to enjoy food, music, games, haircuts (given by the Troopers themselves), pop-up clothing ‘shops’, birthday celebrations, entertainment, toiletries and other basic necessities. These socials provide a safe space for people who live on the street to relax, feel dignified and socialise. The benefits of these gatherings are that barriers are broken, connections are formed and perceptions are altered.
We’ve built up relationships of trust and mutual respect with our homeless Troopers, many of whom run the events with us. In fact, our recent events have been managed largely by our homeless volunteers, whom we affectionately call Troopers or Troops. Some help in the kitchen, others give haircuts, and most of the people attending always help with keeping an eye out, making sure everything runs smoothly. These ‘socials’ give homeless people dignity, fun and a chance to feel and be seen as human beings rather than ‘vagrants’.
As we don't have access to a regular venue, we hold regular smaller events in public areas to maintain our connection with the Troopers. We have also arranged for regular counselling sessions and workshops for some of our regular Troopers. We are fundraising for the establishment of our HumanHub, a first-port-of-call for people on the street, a safe place to come to and feel productive during the day, while learning valuable skills to help them get their lives back on track.
Souper Troopers motto is DIGNITY.LOVE.RESPECT, all of which are the principles Kerry has instilled in everyone associated with our Souper community from the very beginning. We are a platform for human beings to join together and assist in any way possible to make the changes we wish to see in our world from a very authentic space, believing in the philosophy of 'doing' not just talking.
Instead of aiming to solve this complex problem with a complex solution, we are humanising it and keeping it simple, using human engagement as a catalyst for change, breaking barriers by creating moments of human connection.
We are all human. We all have a story. Together we are the change.
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