Nathan walks the street with hope

Nathan Festus used to live on the street but now does walking tours.

A former homeless man is walking his way to a better future after he recently graduated as a tour guide and landed a job with a tour company.

Nathan Festus, 52, previously worked as a car guard at the Seaforth beach parking lot for almost four years while training, with the support of the Simon’s Town Community Police Forum’s (CPF) street people programme and guidance from Happy Valley Shelter.

He said he started the course in 2016 and after completing several City Walking Tour tutorials, to expose him to the culture of the company, he got the call that changed his life.

“The next thing I knew I was on the time table for my first tour,” he said.

City Walking Tours offer free tours of the city to help locals and tourists learn more about the culture and local heritage from guides who work on a freelance basis.

Nathan said he currently leads two tours, the historic city tour which departs from Café Sante in Greenmarket Square and the vibrant Bo-Kaap tour, which explores the history of Bo-Kaap and the vibrantly coloured houses.

Nathan landed on the street in 2006 and was addicted to drugs. At first he was a functional user but later became addicted to hard drugs.

He lived on the streets of Muizenberg until 2010 when he moved to Simon’s Town.

“At that time I was desiring change in my life and knew I had to do something,” he said.

He said his transformation has not only been physical but also spiritual and admits that it has been his faith in God that has been the strong foundation on which he has been able to restart his life.

He emphasised the importance of quitting drugs before attempting to find work.

“You need to invest in yourself before investing in your future,” he said.

He said many street people had to be taught how to manage their finances, especially if they had been on the street for many years and added that the street people programme run by the CPF was a major contributor to the success of the people out there.

The programme runs in partnership with the City of Cape Town, law enforcement, SAPS, Happy Valley Shelter and the Department of Social Development (“Helping homeless to thrive,” Echo May 24).

“The programme made me realise that there is always someone there to help.

“The opportunity to better yourself is there, you just have to grab it,” he said.

City Walking Tours owner, Fred Burnard, confirmed that Nathan had recently joined his team and said he was thrilled to have him on board.

“He only joined us two weeks ago and we have received great reviews. He is passionate about what he does and it shows,” he said.

CPF chairwoman Eileen Haywood said they are proud of Nathan and the 43 Simon’s Town street people who have accepted assistance and reintegrated into their families and society this year.

She said they are appreciative of the services offered by the Simon’s Town SAPS, Happy Valley Shelter and City of Cape Town social workers assisting street people.

“We once again urge residents not to enable street life, frequently accompanied by alcohol and drug addition, by feeding and donating directly, but rather to donate to shelters which enable positive rehabilitation,” she said.