The Government of Japan has invested R1 million in helping the homeless of Durban. Their generous grant has enabled the Denis Hurley Centre to buy a high-roof Mercedes Sprinter van and convert it into a state-of-the-art mobile clinic /ambulance.
The vehicle has been in use for a few months but this Thursday 22 August at 3pm at the Denis Hurley Centre (DHC) there will be a formal handover by representatives of the Japanese Embassy. Also present will be Wilfrid Cardinal Napier, Chair of the DHC Patrons, and other local government, community and faith leaders.
"We are delighted to be able to support the valuable work which the DHC does. This donation is part of our ongoing commitment to up lift the community in South Africa," Arima Sumie, Diplomat at the Embassy of Japan in South Africa.
The vehicle is used to provide life-saving healthcare to homeless people on the streets of Durban. Every day it drives around the city centre finding homeless people at soup kitchens, in parks and abandoned buildings, under bridges and alongside railway lines.
Ruth Birtwhistle SRN, Clinic Co-ordinator explained: "We provide early intervention primary healthcare which often prevents a small problem becoming a larger one. We also test for HIV and TB to enable homeless people to take control of their lives and their health."
The Denis Hurley Centre has been providing healthcare on the streets for five years. Before being gifted this ambulance they had to do so in less hygienic conditions sitting under a tent at the side of the road.
Raymond Perrier, Director of the DHC commented: "Everything we do is focused on treating people with dignity and helping them restore their self-respect. Being able to examine homeless patients in clean and modern conditions with privacy and sensitivity means that we are treating people the way we would want to be treated ourselves. We are immensely grateful to the Embassy of Japan and our other donors for making this possible."
The work of the mobile clinic is in addition to the patients that the DHC team see in their clinic at the centre and also in a converted container which is a satellite clinic near Dalton Beer Hall. Each month the DHC see over 2,500 patients most of whom would struggle to access Government healthcare - refugees, foreign nationals, homeless people and drug users.
The Handover ceremony will include speeches by the Cardinal, the First Secretary from the Japanese Embassy and testimonies from patients who use the service. There will also be a dance piece specially devised by award-winning choreographer and DHC partner, Musa Hlatshwayo.
The vehicle was supplied at a discount by NMI Durban South Motors (Pty) Ltd and expertly converted by SA Van Conversions (Pty) Ltd.
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