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Page last updated at 10:58 GMT, Monday, 1 March 2010
Danwill's story of redemption

brothers in tunnel
Danwill, 19, with brothers Peter, 17 (l) and Kyle, 15 (r)

Danwill "Sevens" is one of the young men featured in Panorama: More than Just a Game.

He credits the MylifE Foundation with helping him to escape life on the streets of Cape Town.

Danwill, 19, spoke to a MylifE represenatitive about his troubled journey from living rough to paid employment. He also shared his fears for the future of his two younger brothers. This is his story.

My name is Danwill "Sevens" and I have two little brothers, Kyle, 15 and Peter, 17. They live rough on the streets of Cape Town.

I used to live with them on the streets and I took drugs with them. We left our parents because they drink and swear too much. It was a very abusive environment and our parents couldn't care for us. Nobody gave me love at home and I drifted into a gang.

Gangsters in my community are everywhere. They teach the children how to speak gang language and how to do drugs. The peer pressure is huge and you must do what they say or you face the risk of dying.

I know that I must now be a role model to my brothers and having lived on the streets and done the drugs with them, this is not easy

I was lucky. I managed to escape the street, the gangs and drugs first through the Salesian Institute, a Catholic shelter, and then the MyLifE Foundation, which gives so-called "street" people like me hope.

It kills me to see Peter and Kyle on the streets, doing heroin and basically any drug they can get get their hands on. Living under bridges, in dark places, running away from their lives like I did.

Kyle came into the offices at MylifE last week, he always comes to our office when he needs someone to talk to.

He was high on heroin and had fled from the City of Cape Town security guards who were trying to see if they have outstanding warrants so they can lock both of them up.

They got Peter but Kyle - who has a warrant for possession of heroin - got away. Why do they want to lock my brother up when he is the victim here and the person manufacturing the drugs gets away with it?

I believe the greatest problem facing our country today is addiction and we are seeing more and more lives lost, our crime going through the roof and no one that can help my brothers. No one, not even me.

I know that I must now be a role model to my brothers and having lived on the streets and done the drugs with them, this is not easy. I am working on film sets and healing and building through soccer and our boxing programme so I can be a role model to them and make sure they get the same support and love I have received to get my life back.

So far, MylifE has helped more than 100 young people to start over. I think it works, it's worked for others so I hope it works for me.

MK Kapa who spent 12 years labelled as a "street' child got the chance to study under Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Foundation. Today he is a chef. Wiseman Dinizulu, who co founded the project, is now a head of department in the South African film industry.

washing-line in shanty town
Cape Town's slums are bleak, poor and offer little chance of escape

The number of young people like me at risk in South Africa is massive. Homelessness, poverty, drugs and other addictions, gangsterism, HIV/Aids, lack of education, domestic violence and physical and mental abuses is affecting our generation. It will affect future generations. I've seen it at first hand, I think the situation is very bad.

MyLifE is overwhelmed by the task but it has come up with a new approach which will hopefully help Peter and Kyle and lots of others.

It is called UBUNTU, which means "It takes a village to raise a child". It will be a village based well outside of Cape Town which is better because it is very often Cape Town itself which is the problem.

There are too many problems and temptations in Cape Town to escape while you live there which makes change very difficult.

The Village will provide temporary, caring surroundings to help people like me rebuild our lives. It will address food shortages, lack of shelter, economic stability, security and safety to provide conditions for healing and skill development.

It is hoped this approach can be made to work elsewhere in South Africa and the world. I hope so.

My greatest fear is that my little brothers will get hurt on the streets. I know they are getting abused and it is very difficult for me to watch Kyle doing hard drugs and struggling. I try to tell him to stop but he just carries on.


MylifE is a non-profit organisation based in Cape Town that rehabilitates youth at risk.

For more than a decade they have worked on the streets and in high risk communities to try and offer marginalized and addicted young people a second chance.

They rely on a combination of healing, life skill development, counselling, education and job opportunities. The aim is to return these young people to normal society.

Panorama: More than Just a Game, BBC One, Monday, 1 March at 8.30pm.



SEE ALSO
Cape Town's gangs: Martin's story
Monday, 1 March 2010, 00:03 GMT |  Panorama
In Pictures: Cape Town's bleak reality
Monday, 1 March 2010, 10:43 GMT |  Panorama

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