This year, we have asked out students to write their stories. We are going to periodically post them for you to hear from them in their own voice. They want to be heard! For some, we have changed their names to offer them some degree of anonymity. Thus, we have noted these stories with an asterisk (*). For others, they do not mind you knowing who they are and the struggles they have endured in becoming who God has ordained them to be. You will hear from students in various phases of our program. The grade levels are evident in their writing, but we did not want to take away from the authenticity of them explaining themselves in their own words. This is Leslie Ann’s story.
As I walk the streets of Kurland Village where I grew up, I see many disturbing things which have become commonplace there. I see groups of young men standing on street corners smoking weed. I see young people walking around drunk and unconcerned with what adults have to say. I see children as young as seven disrespecting their parents and skipping school. The list of disturbing things in my community could go on and on. Yet out of all of these things, one picture stays with me and keeps me thinking.
I once saw a fifteen year old girl that I have known since she was a toddler sitting outside of a shabeen (house were they sell alcohol). The thing that shocked me was that she, now a young mother, sat there with her small child between her legs while she poured a glass of jabula (African home brewed beer) for her mother and herself. Right there sitting at that shabeen were three generations stuck in a circle of poverty and alcohol abuse. I thought to myself what is going to keep that little child sitting between her mother’s legs from falling into the same addiction as her mother and grandmother?
I think about my own life and wonder what the difference is between this fifteen year old girl that I practically grew up with and me. I ask myself why I was not the one sitting there with a child between my legs serving my mother a glass of jabula. As I thought about my past, I now see where the change occurred in my situation. I have been given opportunities that have changed the course of my life. I know that God sent Nicole and Michael from America to show that there was a way out of the circle of shenanigans in which lots of people in Kurland village are trapped. Over the years these people have been helping me to steer my life in the right direction, always reminding me about the love of God and that He has a plan for my life. Even though I sometimes give them a hard time when they correct me when I’m wrong, God has blessed them with the patience not to give up on me. My journey is not over yet. I still have a long way to go. In the mean time, I reflect on all of the people here and abroad that have helped to make a difference in my life. For that, I will always be grateful!