For The People

“God for us all, Guluva for Himself: a Homeless Man’s Experience of Repeated Trauma” Thembelihle Lobi

On Friday, 12th April, the humanities faculty of Sol Plaatje University hosted speaker Thembelihle Lobi, from the Department of Psychology at the Fort Hare University. Presenting his research paper titled “God for us all, Guluva for himself: a homeless man’s experience of repeated trauma” as a part of the humanities seminar series, he informed the audience of the trauma experienced by homeless men in East London. His research focused on the survival strategies adapted by homeless men and how the street life has formed and maintained their identities. His research questions also include the future plans and aspirations of the participants. “Trauma becomes a part of their daily lived experience” says Lobi, adding that homelessness affects everyone.

A central theme in his study are the ways in which the homeless are vulnerable as they are victimized by society and law enforcement, who “clean the streets”. They are commonly subjected to trauma and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with a lack of access to psychotherapy. Torchalla, Li and Schuets reported that an astounding 92.8% of homeless persons met the overall criteria for PTSD. He further discerns that for homeless people, who, by definition, are vulnerable, trauma has become their accomplice.

His enriching presentation focused on the constraints of working with a vulnerable group and the difficulty of locating persons who need to be mobile to survive. He sheds light on the ways in which territory is located and protected. They (the homeless) are exposed to high mortality rates and instability, “homelessness traumatises and is a crisis for all humanity,” says Lobi.

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