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Humble Beginnings : Our story at Hands of Honour My name is Paul Talliard. Five years ago I entered a Soup Kitchen as a 45 KG drug addicted weakling and founded Hands of Honour..(NPO) Hands of Honour was founded in response to the hundreds of men just languishing in soup kichens in and around my community. I grew up on the Cape Flats ,a sandy, windswept area in Cape Town,Souh Africa..The Cape Flats is where people of colour were dumped after they were forcibly removed from their homes as a result of Apartheid's infamous Group Areas Act of 1950.The Group Areas Act was in effect a law that was made by the Apartheid goverment, to exclude non-Whites from living in the most developed areas and near urban city centres. Like other families on the Cape Flats ,we grew up poor,but my parents managed to enroll me at one of the best high schools for Coloureds at the time. I finished my education and successfully applied to become one of the first Fireman of colour ,a job reserved for White men only.I did well there ,graduating at the top of my class and went on to buy a home in a lovely area in Cape Town ,a long way from the drug and crime infested Cape Flats. However ,in my twelfth year as a Fireman ,I was introduced to crack cocaine and consequently lost my job house,family and dignity ,in the space of a year.. Until that life changing day I entered the Soup Kitchen , I had spent the last five years as a transient drug and alcohol abuser. As I entered , I was almost immediately offered help in getting my life together. Itr defnitley pays to have a bit of education and being able to address people in a polite and well spoken manner.To make a long story short,I was off drugs in no time and became a member of the Soup Kitchen management team.It was then that I realised how many men attend soup kitchens every day of the week ,with up to three generations of same family of men present.That would be Grandfather,Father and Son and with up to 150 men present in a soup kitchen at any given time. I started a support group for those seeking to change their lives for the better and Hands of Honour was founded. In a matter of weeks ,over 50 men were attending our weekly meetings and we decided to register Hands of Honour as a Non-profit Organization. I was here that my innovation journey begun . The men were ready to forsake crime and drugs in exchange for a way to earn an income .This was not an easy in a country where there is a 40% unemployment rate.Another fact not in our favo,ur was that most of the men had criminal records as a result of their lifestyles. I had to find new and innovative ways to create incomes> I found a solution in up-cycling: Sadly , $ 1.7 bn worth of material was being dumped in South Africa landfill sites every year.It was also discovered that South Africa has no plan to address this. We at Hands of Honour, are of the opinion that this waste has both social and economic value, and moving waste up the hierarchy provides opportunities for socioeconomic development, creating new jobs and businesses and reducing reliance on declining natural resources. I engaged with Corporations with regard to their Corporate Waste/Obsolete stock/Distressed goods and in not time we collected our first consignment of obsolete stock ,900 battered and bruised designer Christmas trees ,from a large retail chain.These were fixed /upcycled and sold online and at markets. Five men received payment for upcycling the Christmas trees and a grand profit of $900 was made,a tidy sum indeed. Now,a further innovation was needed,but what .I then decided that we will use half of the money we made selling the Christmas trees ,to paint a two structures ,that serve as classrooms at a local school in our area ,that had not seen a frsh coat of paint for forty years. All members of Hands of Honour were required to volunteer for the painting project. So, one fine Saturday morning ,over 60 former drug addicts and other marginalized men sacrifced their weekend ,and commenced with the painting job,much to the delight of the community. And so ,my up-cycling program came to be.We now have many Corporations and other partners who call us to collect their obsolete stock/waste or anything they think can be fixed or up-cycled.They know full well that jobs are being created and that every once in a while ,we use a percentage of our profits are used to fund a project that will transform a negative space in our community into a positive one.So far,we have created nine full jobs and dozens of men are earning incomes through participating in our regeneration projects ,with 16 spaces so far upgraded. Winning the SWARM VISION '' Future of education '' competition:: Our engagement with Swarm Vision through the Future of Education campaign and eventually ending up as one of the winners, has been a real source of inspiration and the self esteem of the men who designed and worked on our entry ,The Angel Classroom on Wheels, has been boosted.For former homeless men to be allowed to express their creativity on a platform such as Swarn Vision ,while competing with the best innovators around ,has been a real blessing. We feel we have come full circle. The win has brought amongst the men ,a coming together, helping, supporting and a sense of purpose reborn. To see the Angel Book Nook acknowledged by others on Swarm Vision ,the men are - re purposed re energized - a sense of worth and belonging,The Angel Book Nook, made by their rough hands ,used by everyone, children and the broader community to believe in their own abilities, acknowledge their dreams and stand on a safer place from where they could talk about their dreams, experiences and engage one another in meaningful ways that will uplift their peers and the community. On behalf of the men and their families of Hands of Honour ,i want to say a BIG Thank You to the founder,management and hardworking staff at Pledger May you continue to be the torch bearer for Changemakers the world over ,allowing our voices to be heard and in so making the world a better place to live in ,and for all to enjoy. Paul Talliard : Founder :Hands of Honour -Mobile -0721389150 www.handsofhonour.co.za
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