Former addicts march to empower youth
by ROB KNOWLES
FOUR young people are currently walking along the South African coastline in an attempt to let the youth know education is the most important aspect of their journey into adulthood and that they should stay away from drugs and live a healthy lifestyle.
Starting off at Ballito in KwaZulu- Natal on January 1, friends Jason Petersen, 25, and Adam Brown, 28, walked to Durban. There they met Dawie Botes, 27, and Mandy Nel, 23, who joined them on their mission to motivate the youth in South Africa. The four visited the TotT offices last week.
“We intend to walk until the end of December and visit as many schools as we can to pass on our message and personal experiences,” said Brown.
He said the four intrepid travellers had all had troubles with drugs in the past and could therefore speak with authority on the dangers. With no funds or sponsors, the group is totally dependent upon the goodwill of others for food and accommodation as they trek along beaches to their next stopping point.
“We began raising funds for our journey by opening up pop-up car washes and have been assisted by some churches along the way where we have been able to pitch our tents,” said Petersen.
“We call ourselves the Foot Soldiers of God, or FSOG for short.” “People have been very supportive,” said Nel, who has left her two children with her mother in Springs on the East Rand until she returns.
Last Thursday the FSOG visited Nomzamo High School in Nemato to talk to the pupils there. They addressed a group of pupils and shared some of their experiences along the road, and touched on what had led them to where they were today.
“If we can inspire only one or two to make better choices, we have succeeded in our mission,” said Brown. Nel spoke of the difficulties she faced becoming a mother at a young age while wrestling an addiction to drugs.
“I have really enjoyed talking to the young girls. I felt like I could relate to them and them to me.” Brown said he had seen a lot of himself in the pupils he had spoken to.
“Many have grown up in unstable situations. But not having a father in your life does not mean you need to throw your life away with drinking and using [drugs].”
With winter coming up, the group is hoping people may donate some warm clothing. The FSOG do not yet have a Facebook page. They are contactable on 073- 885- 9472.
“The phone is old, so we may not answer straight away. As soon as we stop we will look at the messages and get back to you,” said Petersen.