My name is Victor. No other name. Just Victor. Honest truth, I don’t like my family, so I don’t want a family name. No family name – no family. That suits me. But maybe that will also change.
I don’t think I ever hated my pa. He was never around to hate. He lived across the street with another woman. His drinking partner. That and everything else; dagga, tik and heroin. Me, I stayed with my bru and mom in one room. One room and two beds. One for me and my bru and the other for my mom and whoever she brought home.
Of course now it looks bad but at the time it was just life. Gangs to belong, drugs to get kicks and home to eat and face the music from my poor drunk mom.
That was life till I met Kobus.
Why would a Whitey come to my pad and invite me to a camp? I think the social worker told him about me. Anyway, he told me about a camp where they did something they call extreme sports. Hey, man I like extreme and it seemed like a jol to get away for a bit. There was three of us: myself, Jake and Piet. We all signed up.
I got a shock to my system, man. There was no hanging around. We took off to this place far up the coast with a swimming pool and rock pools. We had lekker food and these guys who treated us with, like, you know, respect. Long story short they became our buddies and they taught us to Scuba. But, man there was lessons that we learnt more important.
Kobus he says, “Now, Victor, when you go under the water it’s like you enter a whole different world. What do you need to survive?”
“Well,” I says, “I need equipment so I can breathe.”
“That’s right,” he says, “and you need an instructor.”
I nodded my head, understanding stuff I never thought I could. “And they taught us we need a buddy. – ‘Never dive alone,’ they said.”
Now Kobus nodded. “It’s the same in life, Victor. If you want to get out of your circumstances and get into a world that is as strange to you as being underwater you need equipment, an instructor and a buddy.”
Then he told me about the Bible, Jesus and the church. I didn’t understand at first. I just wanted to jol, but as the week went on I wanted more of what he said. As well as the diving equipment, he was giving me equipment for life.
And I was learning to dream, man. When he first asked me if I liked my situation and I said “No” he asked me what I really wanted and I couldn’t say. I couldn’t dream, man. Life was life and nothing changed, but on that camp hearing about Jesus and seeing how Kobus and the others lived it out, I started to think stuff I didn’t dare before. Like getting an education and a job. Me? A skinny, pockmarked dagga-smoking, tik taking Coloured gangster get a job? Ha ha! But on the camp, with Kobus and Jesus it seemed possible.
It’s two years now, since that camp. I’ve been clean for 18 months, I’ve got my driver’s licence and I am trained in screen printing, getting part-time jobs that keep me going till the big one comes. I haven’t landed a full job yet, but in another way I have. I am working full time for Jesus. I help Kobus at LifeXchange get others out of gangs and drugs and hooked on Jesus. Man, there is no better job!
I haven’t got there yet but, hey, maybe one day I might go and see my dad and who knows, I might even give myself back my family name.
(based on a true story)
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