This is a remarkable story of one of the most brave and determined young woman of substance that I had the priviledge to meet. She has become a community role model and is currently making a difference in the lives of so many young adults through her story.. Please take a few minutes to read and share her story…. I was raped by friends when I was 14 years old, I never told any-one at that time cause I thought it was my fault, I became extremely dysfunctional and lived in between my mom and dads house, when one a parent could not deal with me they would send me over to the other parent. I started my drugging habits at 17 I was introduced to my first ecstacy by a married man I was dating, and since then I continued to use drugs, I dropped out off school, and my drugging was taking me nowhere, and my life was progressively getting worse, I needed help that’s when I went to see a psychologist and was diagnosed- Bi-Polar I started my treatment. I then switched to using “Mary Jane” dagga. Some how at the back in mind I knew I was destined for greater things and I needed to complete my schooling, I enrolled at school, but failed four times. I went into the Hadassah Centre in April 2012, completed my Matric while in the program, I left in October 2012 and I am now 1 year 5months clean. Since then my life has just changed, at present I received a bursary and I am studying at University of Johannesburg, as well as doing an intern at Come Back Mission outpatient program. I have accomplished so many things in this past year and a half, being on various radio Stations, as well as do talks to teens and parents on Substance Abuse. It has not been an easy journey but I know I am going to make it to be a Social Worker
Natalie is no longer selling her body for money. She and her parents and older sister are seeing a social worker from the Dept of Social Development, and Natalie says she’s coping with anger and depression. “It was traumatizing what I went through and what other girls went through,” she said. “… I’ll never get 100 percent over it, but I can recover from it. It’s there but not forgotten. It’s part of my life, so why not grow from it?” She’s been forced to grow up a lot in the past 16 months. She says she ran away from her poor semi detached home in Old Eldos because of pressures at home and at school. She lost her virginity to a local drug dealer from Extension 1, who raped her soon after she left home the first time. She never knew his real name but his friends called him “Dallas”. She escaped from him, but ended up having a relationship with another boy, an 18-year-old who cut Natalie’s hair and put her into skimpy clothes. When he accidentally left the back door open, Natalie was able to run away from his house. She managed to get to the shops in extension 5 and convinced one of the shop owners to call her mom to come get her. When Natalie ran away from home a second time in June 2010, she reconnected with the older girl she’d met her first time. This girl had a flat in Joubert Park and told Natalie that she can come and stay with her. After living together for a week the two girls had a violent fight and Natalie was severely beaten by the older girl. Natalie called one of the older girl’s Nigerian boyfriend to come pick her up at the flat. She stayed with him for 4 1/2 months, and says she made R 3,000 to R 6,000 a week, all from men that this man has introduced her to. She admits she fell hard for her new Nigerian boyfriend and … “He said I wouldn’t have to do this forever and that he hits me because he loves me,” Natalie recalled. “I believed it. I bought into all of it. My brain shut off. I didn’t care about having to do prostitution for him. I felt devoted to him and wanted to do everything to be with him.” The men who paid Natalie for sex “were mostly white and coloured guys, with some indians. They were from university students, to guys in their 70s,” she said. Most had girlfriends or wives. She said she had sex with one man in his car while his infant son was asleep in the back seat. Natalie remembers getting her last phone call from a man looking for a “date.” “He sounded perfectly fine. He didn’t sound sketched out at all,” Natalie said of the man who turned out to be an undercover Hillbrow police detective. Natalie was taken into custody, and her Nigerian boyfriend was arrested when they showed up at a Berea Hotel for Natalie’s prearranged date. She recalls initially being very angry with being arrested “because I was in love” with this Nigerian man, she said. During the months she had been gone from home, Natalie’s father spent hours searching for her on the streets of Hillbrow, Berea, Joubert Park, Noord Street Taxi Rank. He even turned to putting pictures on Facebook, but still found no sign of his daughter. Natalie spend a week in jail and was eventually send home because it was the first time that she was caught by SAPS and the magistrate felt sorry for her. But “she was a different kid” than the one who had run away, her father said. “Her attitude, her language, the way she walked, the disrespect. Everything was different.” The family is slowly putting the pieces of their lives back together, but it’s been a struggle, Natalie’s mom said. Natalie hopes to return to high school in the fall. “They say prostitution is a victimless crime, but our entire family has been victimized. It’s been traumatizing,” she said. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Kevin’ Story, A 8 Year Old Drug Addict
Kevin (Not His Real Name) is sitting on a couch in the home of one of the Anti Drug Campaign organisers, in the heart of Eldorado Park. He is twisting his hands and keeping his head down and occasionally stealing glances at his grandmother while she talks about all the times he’s came home high ON DRUGS. KEVIN IS ONLY EIGHT YEARS OLD. “The last straw for me was when he came home high the other night. He did’nt want to tell me at first where he got the drugs. As I was about to beat it out of him, he told me that two older boys gave him dagga (marijuana) to smoke” said the grandmother. Her eyes are swollen from crying. The grandmother’s daughter, Kevin’s mother, is an addict who is pregnant again. “ I had nowhere else to turn for help” she said, explaining that she and her grandson came to be taken in by other Eldos residents who work with her as local crime fighters. “I can’t leave Kevin with my daughter. She’s the one that sends them to buy drugs as if they are going to buy a loaf of bread.” The grandmother first realised that Kevin was taking drugs when he came home one evening with his eyes glazed over and reeking of alcohol. That was the first time that she beat him up, but he did not talk. He did not tell her what happened or where he got the alcohol from. Kevin, wearing an orange T-shirt and navy blue tracksuit pants, just sits and hears his grandmother talk. He does not say a word. He just stares at her throughout the whole story. “We suspect that these older boys are also using Kevin to bust into people houses. Look at him, he is tiny and can get through a window to open the door from the inside” the grandmother says. “ He does not even remember ever being asked to steal anything but how can he, when they feed him dagga laced with CAT (the street name for the recreational drug, methcathinone). When Kevin’s grandmother brought him to one of the community workers’ house on Thursday night, he was swaying from side to side. He was complete unbalanced. He could not even speak properly. Still. Kevin is sitting still on the couch, silent. The look in his eyes and the faint smile on his mouth still shows that this little boy is still a child. – City Press Kevin’s story is not an isolated story of the children growing up in Eldorado Park. This is the same story of hundreds of other children between the ages of twelve and eighteen years. Kevin’s story is unique because it made us realise that drug dealers is beginning to target children under these ages and if the people of this community of Eldorado Park does not stand together against the fight to rid the community of drugs and substance abuse, an entire generation of children will never reach adulthood. _________________________________________________________________________
This is the story about one of the most beautiful child of God. She is part of the Phela Giving Back Leaderships Program. My name is Michelle and this is my life story… I was 3 years old when my little brother was born. That’s when my life began changing. He became the most important part of my mothers life forgetting she had a daughter. I loved my mother but she pushed me away and gave all her attention to my brother. My mother and father did not work, I had to go with my dad to people’s houses and beg for money and food that was a daily job for us to survive. I became very close with my father and spend all my time with him. My stepsister came from Cape Town to visit us that’s when we met. She came and left cause she did’nt live with us. I grew up and felt like I did’nt have a mother at all. I was 6 when my mum and dad had a huge fight. My dad decided to take me with him to Cape Town to live there. We lived there for about a year. He became physically abusive towards me. He then decided that we move back to Joburg. My mum and dad made up because she was very sick with TB . I was 8 years old when I became an adult. My sister moved in with us and lived with us. I was in Grade One when she gave birth to a boy but left the baby with me to look after. I had to go to school and when I came home from school, clean the house, go with my dad begging, come home and cook when we got some food or money, and look after the baby, I had to wash him, feed him and wake up in the middle of the night to clean the bum and make bottles, and get up for school. That was my daily job and on Saturday I had to wash all the clothes by hand and do the ironing. My mother did nothing for me it was always my dad that was there for me. My mom also became physically abusive to me and would hit me and so would my dad. On the 24th of November 2006, I was with my dad on the Alberton highway when me, my dad and my little brother was walking on the sidewalk, I was holding my dad’s hand and the next thing I knew my dad was not by my side anymore. I looked up and saw him spinning in the air like a wheel and when he hit the ground he was dead. I ran to him and held him in my arms. A car stopped and the man made phone calls. I spoke to my dad but he was dead. Ii said daddy please don’t leave me alone. The ambulance came and police and took us to the hospital. When the doctor came and took us into a private room i asked him if my dad was alive and he replied no he’s heart stopped when the truck hit him and he cut his neck, I cried and felt alone, we went back home and told my mum, she did’nt want to believe us when we told her that my dad is dead. She did’nt take it easy. We immediately moved to my Granny’s house and we lived there because my mom was crying all the time. My brother became the most important person in my life. Two months later, my mother passed away and that’s when i fell apart. Time went on me and my cousin became very close I trusted him but one morning my granny was busy in the kitchen when he come to the bedroom and raped me. He told me not to tell no one cause if I did, he would hurt me, he then said “shhhhhhh, I only wanted a taste” I felt like trash, disgusted, I blamed myself, I did’nt want to talk to anyone about it. I just felt so dirty. I spoke to a lady that I always visited at, about what happened and she went to my family to tell them about what I have told her, but when my aunt (the mother of my cousin that raped me) found out about what I told this lady, she was nasty with me and things then became more difficult for us. Most of my family turned their backs on us I had to be strong. So many angry and ugly words and insults I had to take. I decided that I was not going to give up at all and just carried on with my life. Time went on then my cousin, raped my brother . When i told my family this my granny said she spoke to him and he said he would not do it again then my cousin confessed that he did rape us. I went to school and spoke to my teacher, my brother and to the principle. We reported it to the welfare. My cousin attended court for 3 months and was free. On 15th January 2010, we were picked up from school and were told the we going to live at a Children’s home. I thanked the lord that day for answering my prayers. We left and I’m now 15 turning 16. I praise God for what he has done for me and my brother. I truly miss my dad. I never got a chance to say goodbye. I never got a chance to make peace with my mother. But I can live my life now confidently and give God all the glory . That’s my story. _________________________________________________________________________
The newspaper headlines read Five Girls Rescued From a “Lolly Lounge” in Eldorado Park. The youngest of the five was 13-year-old Bridgette (name changed to protect this little girl). Bridgette said she had been introduced to the lolly lounges by a 16 year old school-friend in February 2012. These Lolly Lounges are houses are as drug hubs by drug dealers, criminals and gangsters. Different types of drugs including heroin and mandrax are smoked in these houses and Bridgette’s 16 year old friend was given free drugs and the only thing that she had to do was to “trap” men to spend money on drugs. Bridgette at first did not want to go into the house located in extension 1, but the owner of the lolly lounge gave her R100 just to sit around and talk to the men that was smoking dagga. Bridgette came from a family that was poor and the money that she got from the owner paid for a new pair of sneakers that she has been wanting for the longest time. Her 16 year old friend told her that if she sleeps with the men in these houses she can make up to R 500 in a day and that the men that hang out at the lolly lounge were all cool guys and would not hurt her. Bridgette soon became a regular visitor at the lolly lounge and each time the owner would give her a R100 and would also give her a glass pipe/popper bottle used to smoke substances like crystal meth and tik is shaped like a lollipop. This is where these houses got their name from. She was very scared to use it at first but her 16 year old friend would laugh at her and call her a mommy’s baby. Bridgette soon began also smoking tik. Bridgette can still clearly remember the public holiday day that she and her friend went to Southgate Shopping Centre and her friend bought five packets of clothes from Edgars. Bridgette was very envious and also wanted to buy herself nice new clothes. Her friend told her that the only way to get enough money to buy clothes was to sleep with the “old men” at the lolly lounge. Her friend also told her that one of the men that was her customer has already said that he wants to sleep with Bridgette and he would pay Bridgette R1000 if she would sleep with him. That same evening Bridgette became a prostitute. Bridgette has a very small body and she looks like she was 10 years old and because of the perversive nature of drug induced men, she soon became very in demand by the customers of the lolly lounge. Bridgette made between R1000 and R2000 per day depending on how many men she slept with and because she was earning her own money now, the owner made her pay for all the drugs that she was using. She started using more and more drugs because of the emotional turmoil encountered with prostitution and physical abuse from her customers. The men started loosing respect for her and started seeing her as just another filthy prostitute. They started hitting her and raping her. This behaviour was encouraged as long as they buy drugs from the owner of the lolly lounge. Bridgette’s 16 year old friend became very sick one day and was driven to the hospital by her brother. At the hospital, it was found that she has overdosed and her stomach was pumped and she was admitted in the intensive care unit. She nearly died. When her health improved, she was visited by two social workers and a constable from SAPS. After persuasion from her family, the social workers and SAPS, Bridgette’s 16 year old friend told them the entire story about the lolly lounge. The next day the house was raided by SAPS and five girls including Bridgette was found naked and drugged in the house. Bridgette is still receiving drug rehabilitation treatment at a government institution but speaking to this girl and hearing her story, one cannot help but feel that once released back into the streets of Eldorado Park that she will go back into that life of lolly lounges. These lounges have been around for over 10 years in Eldorado Park and the community knows about them, but no one seems to want to do anything about it. Children who went into the lounges did so of their own free will. The problem came when they did not come out of the lounges. These lounges are an initiation process – it’s where they get the girls hooked on drugs and then they have to start working for the drugs by luring men in for money, If we are going to save our children and rid Eldorado Park of drugs, we need to start with closing these houses. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Michaela Manneson’s Story
This is the story of Micaela Manneson – Gone but will never be forgotten. Kayla was not part of Phela Giving Back, but this story needs to be told because young ladies living in Eldos goes through the same ordeals as her every single day…
The long grass hides the cross from the road.Plastic flowers that had fallen off lay in the black ash covering the sand.
It was here that the burnt body of a 16-year-old girl, Micaela Manneson, lay for six weeks before she was discovered by members of the Eldorado Park community. In that time, her family had searched all over for her, and were told repeatedly that their daughter had run away from them and would be found in a drug house. Instead, she became the victim of a rapist-turned-murderer. And the man who has been arrested in connection with the crime is her brother-in-law. Now her family want to know how much work the police did on Micaela’s case. They want to know: – Why did the police treat Micaela’s case as a runaway and not as something more sinister? – Why the family had to search for her on their own when tip-offs about her whereabouts had been given to the police? – Why was her body found by the community and not by the cops? – Why was the main suspect arrested by the community? – Why was the main suspect not arrested when there were other charges open against him? – Why was the main witness, who has disappeared, not arrested as an accomplice? Ellen Manneson last saw her daughter on December 6. Micaela was going to a party with her cousins, and Manneson phoned her at 7.30pm to find out when she was coming home. She told her mom that she would be sleeping at her aunt’s house. “The next morning, I called my sister early. I was worried because we had to go and fetch Micaela’s report from school,” Manneson said. “My sister told me she wasn’t there and she had not come home the night before.” Manneson was told that Micaela’s cousin had dropped her off at a house they had recently moved from. He did not know they had moved. Her brother-in-law Jonathan Marhala was there to fetch her. “I went to the house, but three men I didn’t know were there. They said Jonathan wasn’t there and they hadn’t seen Micaela. I was worried as Micaela had never done this before. Everyone knows she isn’t the rough type.” The next day, with still no word on the girl’s whereabouts, Manneson reported her daughter missing. It was the start of six weeks of searching. Then last month, a witness came forward. He said he was in the house when Micaela arrived, and he heard her screaming. He described where her body lay, and community member Shaun Garf and two friends made the gruesome discovery in a piece of veld in Nancefield, a small industrial suburb south of Eldorado Park.
Micaela had been burnt with tyres, and all that remained were a few bones. Manneson said Garf then searched for, found and made a citizen’s arrest of Marhala. After the police had been to the site, the family went and found a few bones and Micaela’s silver watch, which had stopped at 4 o’clock. A DNA test confirmed the bones as Micaela’s. Marhala was arrested and has appeared in court. Police spokesman Captain Philemon Khorombi said there were currently four cases pending against Marhala – two of rape, one of business robbery and this case of murder. Marhala was also found guilty of a 2004 charge of damage to property, and he served time for this crime, said Khorombi. Khorombi defended the police, saying they had worked hard on the case and went with the family to search for Micaela. “Senior officers sat with the mom and helped her because she was so traumatised. We gave her support,” Khorombi said. The spokesman said police had no control over whether to arrest a witness because the courts made that decision. Khorombi said they have not received any reports that he has disappeared and if they do, they will approach the court for a warrant of arrest to be issued. We, the residents of Eldorado Park has taken a vow to stop this killing in our neighbourhood. We will be holding a peaceful mass protest action on the 07th April 2013 to send a clear message to government that we are no longer going to tolerate incompetent policing, incompetent justice system, incompetent political representation and most important of all no more crime in our township.. Join us in this March – ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
Hi, my name is Liesl. I am 15 years old and I live in Klipspruit West, Extension 2. I have been sexual abused by my uncle since the age of 5, and all through my childhood. I find it very hard to put into words and talk about what I went through to anybody but I wrote a poem about my ordeal in my diary when I was 14 that best explain my feelings. This poem is talking about how writing basically got me through my situation. I always say that when I feel like no one understands, or like I’m not being heard when I try to speak, I just write because my paper and pen understands me. I Just Write I can’t talk to nobody, I feel like nobody understands, So I pick up some paper and grab me a pen. You see me smile, but if you only knew The things that I hold on to, And just can’t seem to let go. I know I must forgive and I said that I do, But I don’t really think that I actually do. Forgive my mother Don, Daniel, and others too For the pain they put me through as a kid. I spoke up, no one listened. So it continued on and I just didn’t mention, The things that went on in the middle of the night. It happened before so maybe it’s all right. At 5, at 8, at 9 and 10. Over and over and over again. She caught him, forgave, nothing changed. I’m over it now I really am. I think about it every now and then. Have trouble sleeping at night. I laugh about it now, especially when I use to sleep with a knife. I know the only way to get over it, Is to open up and speak, But when I spoke when I was younger, No one heard me. So you tell me, WHAT THE **** DO I DO, Now people are questioning… And accusing me When that voice in my head keeps saying, You wasting your time no one cares about you. I can’t shake that, I’ve believed that my whole life. I’m just glad that God gave me a pen, paper, and the ability to write. Cause when I feel like no hears me, I just write
Anna is a fifteen year old girl living on the streets of Eldorado Park. She usually sleeps in the abundant buildings around the Nancefield Industrial section. She is homeless and this is her story.. I feel like I am dead and living like a zombie. There is no where to go. There is no one to see. There is no one that cares. Besides the feeling of shame and uselessness is the feeling of terror for my safety and going hungry. Every day I wonder, “Where am I going to get my next scrap of food?” How am I going to manage getting shelter for sleeping out of the rain for yet another night? Hunger can turn a person into a mad person. When my father died, my mother became an alcoholic, I was going through rough times, but I never realized that hunger can bring me so close to acting like a crazy person. When my mother abandoned me when I was only 11, I did not know where to turn. Now I am scraping the streets trying to keep my sanity. The desire for food takes control of every moral thought of right and wrong, and in most cases I have to steal to survive. The streets have become my home. I don’t want to accept that this is where I am going to be for the rest of my life. I don’t have any family and no one to believe in me or support me. I used to be a good student. I remember in Heerengracht school when I was in 4th grade, my father was so proud when I won third place of all the Grade 4 students in the school. He never had much time for me, but when he did, he was always proud to see me do well. My father always use to tell me he wants me to become a teacher and help others. Every day, when I search the trash cans of outside of the shopping centres in Extension 5 and Extension 2, In Kliptown and in Extension 6, I think of the families that ate the food that I am now about to finish for them. How could they throw away the very thing that I desperately depend on to stay alive? I will never understand how people can live their lives and not even think for once that there are people out there starving, dying, struggling, just to get some rice or stale bread in their stomach and that’s all the food they’ll be eating for three days? Why do they look at us as if we like the situation we are in, as if we “asked” to be abandoned and in this world with no one to protect us but ourselves? One saving grace is that I go to Kersiedorp every Wednesday and there is a feeding scheme that gives me a hot cooked meal and something to drink. They also give me some food, fruit and vegetables to take with me if there is any food left. This keeps me from getting sick. And Auntie Bernie from the food caravan by shoprite always gives me some pap and gravy that is left over. I can only pray and ask God, if he is even listening, to spare me at least some more food or some type of safe, dry shelter for the night. That’s all I ask for. It may not be much to those people rushing by me onto a destination far more fortunate and brighter than mine, but it means a whole lot to me. It means everything to me! It means that I will survive just one more day. “Why?” you may ask. “Why keep on going when you have nothing to live for?” I will answer that question for you. It is because of hope. Hope is all I have. Hope is what keeps me alive. And maybe hope will get me out of this live one day.
Lala is one of the young ladies that Phela Giving Back is helping through support, councelling and seeing that she gets her ARV medication on time and is always receiving the correct nourishments. She lives with her mother and aunt in Kersiedorp. She does not want to be stigmatised so we have changed her name and distorted her photo. This is her story: hi, im 15 years old , on 3 november 2011 i found out that i am HIV positive . there was rumors that this boy had it & iasked him & made me show me proof & he did idunnno how he made up these papers but he did .. the first time we had it i told him we have to use a condom because either way i didnt wanna end up pregnant. he used it for a little then he took it off And i made it clear he couldnt continue having sex with me until he put a condom back on but he didnt. i went & got tested recently & broke down .. people told me i should get tested because you could never know & also when i lived with him in summer his mom would always bring up you two will be together through sickness, & through everything else. i found it weird she would always bring that up & she once made a joke about them both being hiv positive .. wich scared me so he was born with it . when i found out he reAlly had it i was so sad & heart broken that he knew he had it & he would go giving it to people like nothing. he gave it to alooott of girls ! & i also feel bad for them sometimes i want to tell people so they can becareful or get tested .. but then that would put my reputation on the line. i always wonder if people would accepted & love me if i told them ? but people are so ignorant you could never know.. but for the people out there who have it & are stressing .. hiv is like diabetes it isnt as bad just keep going to ur dr.appointments to see if your doing okay in your health . put everything in gods hands & god will make things good for you . if you take care of urself your not gonna dye & theres gonna be supporters you just have to find the right ones . im still living a healthy normal life & this has made a big impact in my life in so many ways
This is the story of Claudia. She is a volunteer for Phela Giving Back. She mentors and act as an advisor to children of the feeding scheme. Claudia is a recovering Drug Addict and here is her story. I never believed something like this would happen to me, but it did. I grew up in Eldorado Park Hillbrow Flats with my parents and younger sister in a two bedroom council flat. I never really had friends while growing up, but when I started at high school they were few. I didn’t play sports, I wasn’t a drummie or a dancer or even a thug. I was just me – and often that left me feeling very alone. I didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere. Everything changed during the school holidays when I turned 14. The people I knew started going to housas and clubs. I distanced myself from that scene because I thought it was weird. Slowly, though, my perception changed. The more people I knew who went to clubs, the more I believed it couldn’t be that bad. That October, I decided to go to a house party where I knew people would be doing drugs. Everyone seemed to know each other. I have to admit, I was jealous. I felt like an outsider. Halfway through the night I met a really awesome guy. After talking for a while he offered me dagga. I decided to try it. As I smoked it, I coughed but I thought, there’s no way this could be bad.A half an hour went by and I began to question its power. But then it hit me like a tidal wave. It was incredible: My senses magnified, the lights became more vivid, the music sounded more beautiful, and my new acquaintances felt like best friends. I didn’t even know half of their names and yet I felt I loved them. I loved everything that night. So, it was no wonder why I wanted to feel that way again soon. Before long I started smoking dagga every other Saturday night. It was fun going to parties and meeting new people. Soon I was using every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I wasn’t alone either – all the cool children that was in my school was using the “kush.” And they were buying the dagga and pills (E and mandrax) from guys that was also living in Extention 1 flats (so I knew them) and they were selling pills right out of their school bags. I had to get a job to buy the dagga and pills so I started working at Shoprite in Extention 5 as a packer. School, work and partying took its toll on me. My body ached all the time. My eyes were bloodshot with big, dark circles around them. I was always sick and depressed. I began to hate everything — I hated school, I hated my job and I fought constantly with my family. I thought that I had the worst life. The only time I felt more happy than being on dagga was when I was on Ecstasy. Only the drug was never as good as the time before. Now it seemed that even Ecstasy couldn’t numb the pain. So, I began to move on to smoking dagga and mandrax. Despite this, I didn’t think I had a problem because I was still working and going to school.But within three months my recklessness caught up with me. I was at a small house party and started drinking from a container of Red Bull — which turned out to be full of GHB (roughly 10 times the amount usually used recreationally). Although I don’t remember what happened, the events of the evening were explained to me:I became unconscious. My body forced itself to throw up several times. My “friends” weren’t too alarmed. They just thought I “Goofed -out” (e.g. passed out from taking too much GHB) and that I would sleep it off. Rather than help me, they just stuck me in the bathroom. I was unconscious for hours and nobody checked on me. Finally, the owner of the house came home and found me passed out on the bathroom floor. He ran out frantically screaming for answers. When he came back to check on me, I wasn’t breathing. As he and another guy carried me to the car, they had to set me down every 5 meters to give me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Luckily, the paramedics were up the road in Extention 3. They dropped me off without telling anyone who I was. Fortunately, the paramedics recognized my symptoms and immediately went to work. They used paddles to revive me. Each time they had me breathing, I would stop. I flat lined twice. I was in a coma for three hours. Waking up in Baragwanath Hospital was one of the most horrible experiences of my life. I awoke in a strange, white room, my ears ringing so loud it was unbearable. Then I began to choke. I tried to reach up and pull out whatever was in my throat, but I couldn’t. My arms and legs we’re tied down and I panicked — I thought I was going choke to death. The nurses had to calm me down, coercing me to believe that the tube in my mouth was for my benefit — it was allowing me to breathe. They asked me if I knew where I was, who I was, or what had happened. I shook my head. I knew nothing.“You overdosed” a nurse said. I couldn’t believe it. My mom and dad arrived as soon as they could. They found my room in the intensive care unit; the board outside read: “Unknown.” This whole experience was a huge wake up call. While I was using drugs, I thought I’d made some incredible friends. On the night I needed them most, however, my “friends” were not there for me. They just dumped me in the bathroom, not wanting me to disrupt their good time. Only two people came to see me in the hospital. Of course, these people were not true friends. They were there for me as long as it didn’t interfere with their life or their fun, or get them in trouble. When I left the hospital, I tried to get my life back together. It was hard. I’d gone from partying with groups of people every weekend, to sitting home every night by myself, crying. It wasn’t easy giving up my addiction, but it seemed nearly impossible to give up the lifestyle, the “friends.” Once I stopped using, they wanted nothing to do with me.My family has been there for me the whole time, wanting to help and always supporting me. Without them I don’t know how I would have ever pulled out of it. When I was ready to tell them everything, I made them promise not to say a word until I was finished. It was just as hard facing my parents as facing my problem. They were in shock at some of the things I told them. I decided to clean up by myself without rehab or counseling. I got myself into it, so I wanted to get myself out. It may not have been the right way, maybe I should have asked for help. But I made the choice to quit, and I am the one who has stayed clean and sober for over 18 months. But without my parents, I may have relapsed.I have recovered, but not fully. Now, a year and a half later, I still struggle with both short- and long-term memory loss. A lot of the time I don’t remember what I said right after I say it.Because of the choices I made I wasn’t able to graduate with my class, but did return the following school term to get my grade 9 For the rest of my life I’ll be in recovery — because just one slip can blow everything. The most important thing for me to remember is that despite the mistakes I’ve made, I am still a good person and have much to give. I stay clean because I wake up every day and promise myself that I won’t do drugs that day. Imagining not doing drugs ever again sounds too overwhelming, so I take it a day at a time. I’m also focusing on educating kids about drugs. I speak at the weekly feeding scheme in Kersiedorp and also to the Leadership Girls of Phela Giving Back. I want kids and teens to know what can happen when you choose the wrong path. I have seen both sides, lived both lives. Believe me, I now know how lucky I am to be alive
Meet Tania (not her real name), she is 14 years old and lives in Eldorado Park Extension 9. I have blurred her face because she is concerned about someone recognizing her and the stigma that goes with abuse. She was too embarrassed to tell me her story so I asked her to write it down for me. This is her story. It started when I was in Grade 1 at Kliptown Primary School. My parents were divorced and my mom had custody of me and my two brothers at the time. My mom met my stepdad and they married. My stepdad was an Old Apostolic and his Christian believes were very strong. He was very strict and believed that if a child misbehaves that child must be spanked. It started with light hits with his belt but soon turned into hard hits with a shambok. I soon learned that being nice to my stepdad and doing extras like fetching him beer from the fridge and rubbing his feet, saved me from getting hidings. My brothers were still getting beaten but when I was naughty, he would just smile and patting my behind like light spanks. Soon the patting turned into rubbing my behind. One night he came into my room and started doing naughty things with me. It was so painful. He warned me not to tell anyone. He told me that he will kill me, my mom and my baby brothers, if I tell anyone. I cried and cried. The next day he bought me a chocolate and told me that I was the best child in the world. The same thing carried on for about a year than suddenly he changed. He started hitting me again with his bare hands, then with fists, slapping and throwing things at me. He was angry all the time with me. He also stopped coming to my room. I felt hopeless and I taught it was my fault that he acted this way and I was’nt a good girl anymore, so I started inflicting pain on myself, I also tried killing myself, drinking a lot of Panados, One night I heard noises from the room next to mine and went to see what is happening. I found my stepdad in bed with my little brother and he was crying. The next day I went to school and told the principle what has happened at home. The principle called a welfare worker and the only thing that I can remember is that a car came to come pick me and my brothers up from school and we spend a week living with a white lady. My mother and stepdad was arrested for child abuse. We were placed in foster care with a family living in Krugersdorp for 5 months while the trial was going on. My grandmother and uncle came to fetch us and we moved back to Eldos. My mom was given a suspended sentence and is currently living in Germiston and she has cancer. I have not seen her since the court case and my stepdad died last year of Aids. Me and my brothers are happy again and I don’t want to die anymore. My Granny does not get a lot of money from the government but she gives us love and is always there for us. Phela Giving Back gives us food parcels, bought us gifts for Christmas and we attend the feeding scheme in Kersiedorp. _________________________________________________________________________
Kealin’s ‘ Story
This little boy’s name is Kealin. Kealin lives with his grandmother in Kersiedorp, Eldorado Park. Kealin was born 4 years ago with a disease called Cerebral Palsy. This disease affects body movement, balance, posture (loosely explained, it’s brain paralysis). Kealin is part of the feeding scheme program that we are currently running in Kersiedorp. This amazing boy does not let the disease affect his personality however, Kealin always has a big smile on his face every time I see him. His attempts at communicating becomes understandable with his sometimes hilarious use of hand gestures .. He is the product of a absent father family and his mother is semi present in his life. He is being brought up by his grandmother on a government grant of R 1200 per month. The lack of financial resources in order to receive pediatric care and coordinated medical care has made his condition worse and will continue to worsen the longer he does not receive treatment. Phela Giving Back decided to help the family with finding medical assistance for Kealin. We took him to a private physician whom formally diagnosed Kealin and provide us with a letter of reference. We applied to Johannesburg Hospital and Mayo Clinic for entry into their programs dealing with children that suffer from Cerebral Palsy. Kealin is currently on a waiting list for entrance to this programs and we are awaiting notifications from these institutions. My plea is if you want to help turn Eldos around, to become involved in community projects. You can start by becoming a member of Phela Giving Back by e-mailing me on firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also copy and paste this message on your facebook profile so that we can reach everyone in Eldos and get the whole community involved. Thank you and God bless… _________________________________________________________________________
Chris Mannie’s Story
I met this little boy from Extension 6, Eldorado Park during the Eldos FM / Phela Giving Back Christmas Party. The boy’s name is Chris Mannie and he is the one with the blue gift on his lap. Both Chris’ parents are deceased and he is living with his grandmother, but the abuse at home is too much for him to handle at home, so he prefers to live on the streets and attend school sporadically, but he knows that the streets are no place for someone as young as him. He befriended a group of other young boys who introduced him to glue sniffing. He said that it is the only way to get rid of the hunger. He can regularly be seen at Extension 5 shopping center begging for money to buy glue. He needs to get about R 20.00 a day in order to buy the glue or else the boys that he hangs out with, will beat him and chase him away from the vacant house where they are sleeping. He refused to tell me where this house is located, also in fear. After devouring an entire AK roll and a liter Coke, he began to trust me some more and his vulnerable nature come out. He entrusted me with the knowledge that he is HIV positive since birth. He does not have or use any medication. His parents died several months after his birth from HIV Aids. We chatted until late the evening and after buying him and the boys that he lives with supper, I made arrangements with Chris to meet him the next day. I promised to buy them some more food if he showed up. I did not see him since that day. I will continue looking for Chris each time I visit Eldos. This boy and many others like him needs our help in Eldos. They need hope for a better life They need education, love, food and shelter. I need my fellow community members to stop being so self centered and only care about your own life and help Phela Giving Back to make a difference in the lives of these young children living in the streets of Eldorado Park, going hungry and is dependent on drugs and crime. I am writing this post in the hope that someone actually reads my words and feels the same as what I am feeling when I look around Eldos and sees our beloved, beautiful community becoming crime infected, drug infected, HIV affected, poverty infected, and in plain words becoming a slum area. Phela Giving Back needs individuals, NPO’s, leaders, (in-fact everyone) in our community to join us in restoring this township to it’s former beauty, where all the children living in our community becomes our children (ubuntu).