Living Grace Recovery Programme is a place of refuge, restoration and recovery for people who have been cast aside by society. People branded as hopeless, dangerous and to be avoided at all cost. This includes their families who have rejected them. The reason for this rejection is that they are addicted to alcohol and, or drugs.

It is easy to focus on the negative side of their conduct and to stigmatise their lifestyle without a second thought as to the road that brought them into ’ your space’ be it begging at the traffic lights or knocking on your door trying to sell you something. Briefly let me tell you about Alfie and his story is very typically a story of a Cape Flats addict. (His name has been changed for obvious reasons)

Alfie was born to a lady of the night – a street hooker. He never knew his father and his mother couldn’t tell who his father might have been as she had many clients in her sojourn in Military Rd, where she conducted her business every night for many years. Alfie’s mother died of AIDS when he was 4yrs old and he went to live with his granny. He remembers granny with great fondness but at age 7 granny died and Alfie is taken in by an aunt (but he is not sure she is a real aunt). Life took a turn for the worst and from age 7 where he has experienced every kind of verbal, emotional and physical abuse imaginable. He very rarely went to school because he was always dirty and always tired as he had to sleep on the veranda with the dogs. Only auntie’s real children could sleep in the house. He realises now that auntie only wanted his “all pay” child grant and did not care about him.

At age 10 he found acceptance with small street gang that committed petty crime in the local area and soon became a street kid living by his wits. He learned to beg, to fight, to overcome being cold by sniffing glue which made him numb. At 13 he had a considerable petty criminal record and was sent to an institution for corrective behaviour. He managed to run away from this institution after two years and joined a street gang selling and taking drugs. From the age of 17 to 23 he has been in an out of Polsmoor Prison three times. The tattoos on his hands and neck clear evidence of his story.

Here Alfie sits asking me to help him change from a life style of destruction and chaos to something better. He says he met a man who lives in Retreat, who told him that Living Grace Recovery Programme changed his life and he wants that too. “Please sir, will you help me too”?

It is at times like this that I just quietly praise the Lord for making this programme possible for all the Alfies of this world. As I look into this 23 year old face (he looks like 43) I see the scars of many knife fights on the street and the broken nose when he was thrown off a moving train by a rival gang. But as I look into his eyes soft brown and pleading I realise that Alfie has a tough challenge ahead in order to change.  Not only does he have to deal with old addictive habits and behaviours but he also needs to do much to catch up educationally and emotionally. You see, Alfie is only barely literate and due to the impact of years of drug taking he has great difficulty coping with short term memory issues.  In addition he has never had any decent role models in his life and will need a caring support group to make up for lack of family.

I thank God that there is a Living Grace Recovery Programme for broken, destitute, seeking people like Alfie where he will find help, hope and healing through Jesus Christ. He will discover a support group that cares. We are delighted to report that there are many who have returned to living changed lives, reunited with family through the services of Living Grace Recovery Programme .

-written by Peter Lovick, General Manager at Living Grace