I ran away from home when I was 11 years old, due to the violent abuse of my father. The
way he would beat me is not the way anybody should ever treat a child. At times he would
strip me naked, throw water on me tie me with a cable and the beat me with a cane. One day
he beat me so severely that I thought I was going to die. I still have the marks on my waste. I
even contemplated on killing him in his sleep but instead decided to leave the house. I came
to town and went to the market. I had a black plastic bag and would collect the small red chilli
peppers that had fallen to the ground. When my plastic bag was full I washed them nicely. I
found a tray to spread them and started selling them. With this money I went to the cinema
all day long. I then would sweep in the market. I went from stall to stall and people would
pay me 20 -40 cents each. When I was finished and had some money I would escape to the
cinema again and watch movies until night. Then I would spread my cardboard and sleep
somewhere near the market. At night someone could come and steal your trousers or slippers
while you were sleeping or rub inflammable dirt under your feet and light them. Whenever
this happened I could not walk or work for a week and had nothing to eat during that time.
Furthermore we were constantly hiding from the police who would arrest us whenever they
caught us. Either we had to pay them money or they would send us to jail for ‘loitering’.
Together with some other street boys we ended up in the gutter beneath Peterson Street. We
cleaned the entire gutter and started living there. This is how we founded Lion Base. We had
our own gang. People feared us! We fought, we gambled, we carried weapons, we smoked,
we got drunk, we stabbed, got stabbed, we stole, we got arrested, went to prison, some died.
Street life doesn’t pay. You will die young. We suffered a lot in the streets. When you are in
the streets the streets are in you! You are fighting for survival – you are not living! All my
life I had never seen a bank from the inside. Since we started to make the sneakers with K1X
I have my own bank account. I can take care of myself. I can sleep peacefully at night. I can
take a shower with clean water. I can eat every day. I have started taking classes and am now
able to read and write. I thank God for that. In September I want to start to go to school and
become a nurse in the future. I want to have my own family and be able to take good care of
them. I still have a long way to go but I will make it!