Mandurah: homeless man turned gardener receives donated car to help with new business

Kath Palmer, Dee Freitag (Halo Team), Joseph Hatu and Owen Farmer. Picture: Jon Hewson www.communitypix.com.au d478579
Kath Palmer, Dee Freitag (Halo Team), Joseph Hatu and Owen Farmer. Picture: Jon Hewson www.communitypix.com.au d478579

A HOMELESS man of three years now turned gardener has received a $5000 car from a generous donor to help him kick start his new career.

New Zealander Joseph Hatu was living on the streets of Mandurah, depressed and suicidal, until he was pulled out of the darkness by the Halo and WA Homeless Advocate team.

“I lost my job as an operator on the mines so I had no choice but to turn to the streets,” Mr Hatu said.

“I was eating out of bins, looking for scraps but not once did I beg or make people feel sorry for me.”

Mr Hatu said if it wasn’t for the generosity of the WA Homeless Advocate owner Owen Farmer, he wouldn’t be where he is today.

“I’ve owned the car for 12 years and it was time for me to upgrade,” Mr Farmer said.

“I could’ve made money out of selling the car but I was more than willing to give it away to Joseph so he can use it to get around with his gardening business – I just wanted to do the right thing by someone.”

Halo manager Dee Freitag said Joseph wouldn’t accept help from them when they first met because he couldn’t pay his way.

“One day I approached him and asked him why he was on the street and why he wasn’t applying at our Halo house and he said someone else needs it more than me,” she said.

“Eventually I said to him ‘why don’t you start your own gardening business which would help you pay your rent, pay your accommodation’.

“It took ages to convince him but I finally did it.”

Mr Hatu has since received Halo’s help with accommodation at their safe house, identification, clothing as well as advertorial and start-up with his gardening business Tumeke.

“I thought gardening was a service people require because some are busy and don’t have time to garden,” he said.

“I’ve had nine clients in three weeks of starting my business and four of them are already keen to stick with me in the future.

“It will take a while for me to get there, as the jobs that I do will pay for the tools I need for the job, but you have to spend money to make money.”

Mr Hatu said because of his New Zealand citizenship he had difficulties claiming Centrelink assistance.

“Halo has given me encouragement and all I needed was a hand up not a hand out,” he said.

Mr Hatu said he would hope others in what feels like a stuck situation like homelessness wouldn’t slack off.

“I needed to do this to show people I can do whatever it takes so my advice to others in my situation is to go on, give it a go you mug,” he said.

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