“When my mother passed away, she left behind my 4 siblings and I with our absent father. He wasn’t always the most loving or attentive. I still lack an emotional attachment with him. Coming home after a full day at school to my little sisters wailing was difficult. When I got to middle school, I became addicted to alcohol and drugs. I hung out with friends all the time, and all we cared about was where to buy and take these drugs. My family eventually found out and punished me but the addiction persisted. Soon I dropped out of school and was even jailed a few times for being involved in fights. The only good thing I had was that I was good at sports. I even played on the national football team at one point. At that point I think I couldn’t give up alcohol and drugs although I had talent because I didn’t have a guiding figure. Later, I met an acho who, in many ways, saved me. He took me to counseling centres for years and helped me. He was family to me but he died one day while intoxicated. I cried for weeks. Following this, a childhood friend died too. This sudden loss of lives that had deserved so much allowed me to realise the value of life. I wanted to get better more than ever before. I admitted myself for rehabilitation and gave it my all. Although I do drink occasionally, I finally came off of drugs completely.

Another part of my rollercoaster of a life is my gender expression. I am a woman but I express myself as more masculine. When I was still in school, some students acted differently towards me because of this. I guess this was also a factor that pushed me to losing my self esteem and dropping out. But being off drugs has given me a better perspective on life. Everything is slowly getting better now with my family and my life. I joined desuung and served during the lockdown. Today I’m helping with a waste management survey. I wasted many years on alcohol and drugs, possibly missing out on many opportunities. I could’ve been jailed for a long time. I could’ve even died. Yet, I’m still here now, trying to make up for lost time in any way that I can. I’m here to tell you that having a good shot at life is possible if you decide to change for the better.”

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