The survival bag for homeless lives


Oliver Brain had a problem. He wasn’t an engaged member of his own neighbourhood. An engineer with a conscience, his mind clocked through in search of an answer. He found a solution that tackles two of South Africa’s biggest issues: the daily life and death struggle of the homeless and the excessive amount of inorganic waste that humans produce. In one innovative swoop Brain connected his firing neurons and reimagined landfill-ordained advertising billboards as survival sleeping bags for the homeless.

The bags Brain came up with are crafted to include a pillow sleeve where clothes can be stored, enough space for the storage of valuables and webbing straps to convert the clever devices from sleeping bag to travel pack. The result is tough, practical and absolutely needed. But for Brain, the project, which has developed into the NGO Street Sleeper, is far more than a drop and go set-up. He’s interested in building up South Africa both practically and socially. Alienation and lack of human contact are as much a struggle for the homeless as physical needs. Street Sleeper makes it a priority to address this.

Volunteers are encouraged to engage with the homeless while distributing their survival bags. Having a simple conversation seems easy enough, but it requires bridging an enormous social gap. This marginalised group of people live in a way most South Africans can’t fully imagine. Brain believes that this exercise not only provides psychological upliftment for the street sleepers, but is an opportunity for volunteers to grow immensely.