Give voucher, not cash at robots

HAND UP NOT HAND OUT: Bret MacDonald and Miranda Paulsen show off MES voucher booklets.  Picture: MIKE HOLMES
HAND UP NOT HAND OUT: Bret MacDonald and Miranda Paulsen show off MES voucher booklets. Picture: MIKE HOLMES

A TYPICAL stop at the traffic lights during peak hours as we make our way home by taxi or car usually involves a beggar approaching motorists for some “loose change”. Some turn a blind eye, fidget or, through a small opening in the window discharge a few coins.

Many opt not to give, as the fear is often that it will promote drug or alcohol abuse.

This is why a Port Elizabeth sanctuary for the needy last week launched a campaign to give a “hand up” and not a “hand out” by using a voucher system to help destitute people in and around the city.

Metro Evangelical Services (MES) Port Elizabeth Centre, a care facility which can house up to 120 homeless people, has been operating from Korsten since 2008. The centre has come up with a system where members of community buy booklets of vouchers, costing between R150 and R300 – one voucher R30 – to give back to the needy.

The recipients of these vouchers then can go to MES and trade them for benefits like a warm shower, toiletries, a warm meal, a bed with clean linen for the night and an opportunity to take part in the various developmental programmes offered at the centre.

Dressed in black T-shirts, MES staff plan to take to various intersections around the city today and tomorrow to raise awareness about the vouchers, sponsored by Bukani Printing.

From today, you can buy the vouchers at the centre, as well as at Wayne Pheiffer Cycles in Linton Grange, Aubrey Sacks in North End, Westway Café in Newton Park and Northbound Financial in Summerstrand.

Senior social worker Miranda Paulsen said it would be an ongoing project addressing the needs of the less fortunate. “MES acknowledges that the community wants to help beggars but they do not want to give cash to people.

“People in the streets often come from broken families. We would like to give them a hand and help them become whole again …help them get on their feet and be responsible and proud of themselves. We want to rebuild their self-concept and, by so doing, change the heart of the city.”

One MES resident of six months, who asked not to be named, said: “I can assure you anyone who comes here, wanting to change his life, will be helped. Today I am proud my life has changed. I’ve been through so much including drugs and prostitution. This place is really beneficial to the needy. My nights have become my mornings here!” she said.

Through this initiative, the organisation is doing just what its slogan says: Mould Empower Serve. – Balisa Ntloko

Further information from Paulsen on 071-547-3805, e-mail:

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