THE STORY OF SIYANDA GCABA

My name is Siyanda Gcaba from Lamontville in the south of Durban. I live with my mother, grandmother, aunt , two uncles and my cousin’s sister. I have two brothers from my mother`s side and three brothers and one sister from my father`s side
I was raised by a single parent with the help of my grandmother and aunt. I was the first born son to both my mom and dad. My father got married to someone else and that had an effect towards my life. I was very young and never understood why he left my mother for another woman, but who knew what went in his mind. So I had to accept that, even though I was living with the hurt. My gran mother was a religious person till today. She introduced me to church at a very young age and I attended Sunday school every Sunday, and enjoyed going the church because it`s were I met and had my first girl friend. To be honest I was so used to going to church every Sunday that I would be bored if I had missed a Sunday without going. It was hard for my mother raising a baby boy, but at the same time also a challenge. To her I brought the experience and the knowledge of raising a baby boy .Really I blame my Father for leaving my mother, but again like I said, who knows maybe it`s Gods plan. That’s what I use to believe .
Growing up in the environment that I lived in was not easy at all. I attended a multiracial school just outside of Lamontville. I had friends who attended the same primary school from Lamontville. As part of growing up one day my friends and I started doing naughty things, and one day we decided to bunk school and go the forest to smoke benzine . Yes we did smoke benzine but not regularly. We just tried it out as kids at that time, until one day a kid at school went to my home and reported me that I have being smoking benzine and bunking school. That was the first time I had intoxicated anything in my body. I was high and afraid. I was even afraid to go back home the day I was reported, but I did anyway. I had a strange feeling and I was nervous that when I got back home they would recognize that I was
high. Unfortunately I was reported and given a good hiding That was literally the first time I gota hiding at the age of 11 years. They never expected the worst of me because I had this image of being a good boy around my hood, so I had to portray this look of a church going boy every Sunday, and my family was disappointed of the wrong doings in primary school.
At the age of 13 years I started high school. I was excited to be at high school and looking forward to making new friends and I did. I always had a good time with the friends I made at high school. One day a friend and I had a conflict and we ended up fighting over a very silly thing. Both of us were suspended in school and given suspension letters to give to our parents. I was afraid to give the letter to my parents. This was the second time I got into trouble at school and again my family was disappointed at me. but this time was different because I did not get hiding. They told my father that I have been doing wrong things at school.
The following year I started smoking cigarettes and made it a habit until I got addicted to smoking cigarettes. I think this was influential to the other kids at school, because they thought I was this cool kid. My friends joined me at starting smoking cigarettes as well. I was so influential to other kids that even the girls in my class room started smoking, but at some point a girl was caught smelling cigarettes and she told the teacher that it was my friends and I who taught her how to smoke. All of us were told to come back with our parents
My high school experience was awesome, even though there were some rough patches. I did bad things at school, but I would push myself to gain more knowledge when it comes to learning .
In grade 12 my friend introduced to me a new drug that was on the street at that time, called sugars. This drug was mixed together with heroine and dagga. It was tempting, because the only drug I knew was mandrax and if you could see someone actually smoking the drug you would be scared like I was. So my friend had this drug wrapped in a joint , which makes it easy to smoke and it`s gooft was different from the mandrax.
This drug had taught me lots of things and skills that I would never do if it wasn’t for the drug . I had to panta (hustle) for the drug, and sometimes lie to my mother and grandma to get the money to go use. I did this very often, if they said that they don’t have the money to give to me , then I would go steal money from their purses. I was selfish because I only thought for myself and was good at manipulating people for what I wanted at that time.
Now my life has changed. I was inspired by Nhlakanipho Msomi when I saw how he had changed his life and when I asked him, he said that he was taking methadone and attending a program in Umbilo (OST). I then bought the methadone after I told my parents, but still I was using while taking the methadone. I then went back to Nhlakanipho and he elaborated and told me about the center (OST PROGRAM). That’s how my life has changed, with the help of the OST, DUT & Prof. MONIQUE MARKS.
Currently I am a recovering addict and I am clean for 11 months now and I wish to stay that way for the rest of my life. I would like to thank Nhlakanipho Msomi for introducing to me the wonderful people of the Step UP 0ST program and to Prof. Monique Marks of The Durban University of Technology.