The Denis Hurley Centre is an important organisation in the Durban inner city. It offers services and support to vulnerable groups, staying true to its ethos of “care, education, and community”. The centre is also recognised as an important site of liberation heritage and makes up one of the 30 inner city sites of the Amandla Liberation Heritage Route, a project of the Durban Local History Museums.
Archbishop Denis Hurley was known as the “guardian of the light” and dedicated his life to the pursuit of justice and liberation from the repression of apartheid rule. His legacy lives on through the centre and its critical work. One of the organisation’s key projects is the continued support for homeless members of the community. Each week the centre feeds over 1000 people and offers them showers and clean clothes. It also offers life-saving medications to those with TB and HIV and has a mobile testing programme whereby free HIV tests are given to those in need. Moreover, the centre supports the local refugee community, always striving to empower those who need their support. More recently it has helped homeless people secure their right to vote.
Celebrating Madiba Day
In honour of Nelson Mandela Day, the centre is launching a new campaign, Mandela 101. Nelson Mandela International Day is celebrated every year on July 18th, on what was Madiba’s birthday. The UN launched the day in 2009 and every year citizens are asked to offer 67 minutes of service to their community. The number 67 symbolises the years that Madiba spent fighting for justice and various organisations and civilians spend the day helping their communities. In the light of the recent unrest in Durban, many used this time to help address some of the devastation.
Both Madiba and Hurley fought fiercely for a better South Africa. Despite being raised Methodist, while he was imprisoned, Madiba often sought comfort in religion and was visited by a Jesuit Chaplain. Once he was released from Robben Island, Madiba received an honorary doctorate in Law from UKZN, where Hurley was the chancellor at the time. Before stepping down as president, Madiba awarded the Bishop a Gold Order Meritorious Service for “outstanding public service.” To this day, the legacy of both men continues to live on through impactful community work.
This year, the Denis Hurley Centre, true to their goal of empowering the homeless community and educating the public, are offering the Mandela 101 campaign to honour what would have been Mandela’s 101st birthday. Director of the Hurley Centre, Raymond Perrier, shared the following:
“The term ‘101’ has become short-hand for learning about a new subject. So, in July, to mark the 101st birthday of Madiba, we are offering ‘Homeless 101’. Invite us to your church, school, office, coffee group or book club. We will give a fascinating one-hour session to help explain more about homelessness in Durban.”
Each session will be presented by one of the centre’s managers and a person without shelter. This project seeks to educate the public on homelessness in the city, while empowering those living without shelter to share their stories. If you or your organisation want to engage with the centre and its constituents, it’s certainly worth booking a presentation. All presentations are free, however, a donation is always welcome to support the centre in its incredible work.