See: Some good news on the homeless front ..... guarded and waiting and my podcast from blogtalk radio at the time:
Establishing the Dwayne’s House (DH) programme is an attempt at a new beginning. The programme is named after Dwayne Jones, the youth who was killed because he attended a dance in female clothes.
There is much to learn from what worked or did not work in the past. At the same time, the new beginning will require commitment to beginning anew.
Seeing to the needs of the homeless will therefore need a determination to stay the course especially when the going is rough. Complex and perhaps thankless tasks will need to be approached with a philosophy that requires those of us who are moving this programme forward to:
a. Understand who the homeless are. Each person’s situation is unique, and each person will have a different reason for being homeless or for remaining with the group of homeless youth even if they have the option to go home.
b. Educate ourselves about the homeless. This means acquainting ourselves with the profiles of the DH youth, and finding out what they need. We can help by giving them our attention, noticing them, talking to them. Some may have mental challenges, given repeated experiences of abandonment, stigma, and discrimination.
c. Respect the homeless as individuals – DH youth need the same courtesy and respect we would accord to our friends, families, or work colleagues. We need to treat them as we would want to be treated if we needed help.
d. Respond with kindness. How we respond to the youth can make a huge difference in their lives. Our attitudes will show no matter what we may say or do. If we ignore, dismiss, patronise, or look down on them, we are likely to have an entirely different reaction than if we treat them with kindness.
e. Provide food. A sandwich can make a big difference to someone who is hungry (as in have not eaten for a few days and don’t know when next there may be a meal of any sort).
f. Give money. Donate to non-profit organisations that are serving the homeless (as distinct from going through the motion while showing disdain for the homeless).
g. Donate clothing. Clothing in good shape but no longer being worn can be a boon to homeless persons. We can direct the clothing to organisations addressing the needs of the homeless.
h. Donate a bag of groceries. Give a bag of nonperishable groceries to an organisation for the homeless, or organise a food drive for the homeless.
i. Volunteer our professional services. The youth can benefit from training in whatever skills we have. In particular, doctors, psychiatrists, counselors, and dentists can treat the homeless in clinics. Lawyers are always needed to help with legal matters.
j. Volunteer our hobbies. We can use our interests to help the homeless gain useful skills in areas such as cooking, repairing, gardening, and photography.
k. Volunteer for follow-up programs. Once the homeless are on their way to integration, they need advice, coaching, counselling and follow-up programmes. Particularly if they have been on the streets for a while, homeless youth will need help with re-socialisation.
l. Tutor homeless children. A Youth as long as 12 years old can be thrown out of their homes. They therefore lack basic schooling, and so a tutor can make the difference between integration and continued alienation. An investment of time here could make all the difference.
m. Advocate on behalf of homeless youth. We can talk about the plight of DH youth to our friends, write letters to the newspapers, share information about homeless youth on our FB page, and generally share our enthusiasm to enable these youth to become whole and socially productive.
n. Involve local business. Supermarkets and restaurants as well as clothing shops may be willing to donate to food and/or clothing drives. one of the easiest ways to involve local businesses is to organize food and/or clothing drives.
o. Employ the homeless. Those who become employable will need jobs. Even if we cannot provide the jobs, we can lobby for these youth to be employed, and support them when they are hired.
p. Help the homeless apply for State/NGO help. Agencies may not be able to reach these youth as they have no mailing address. So we can help to direct them to where help is available.
q. Stand up for the rights of the homeless. These youth have exactly the same fundamental rights and freedoms as any other Jamaican. We need to stand up with them to ensure their rights are respected.
r. Contact our Member of Parliament and relevant Ministers. Campaigns of letters, e-mail and phone calls to politicians, in addition to letters/articles to media and calls to talk shows may help to stimulate these persons to address issues related to homeless gay youth.
s. Push for homelessness prevention programs. Civil society and state agencies may need education on the social impact of homelessness, and on what steps families and communities need so that youth do not end up on the streets. Homophobia in Jamaica may need to be addressed frontally.
also see: JFLAG Urges More State Support For Homosexual Teens Living On Streets I hope that this is not another smooth over again to diffuse criticisms and scrutiny only to leave the men abandoned yet again as the closure of the 2009 Safe House Project has taught us.