As Phumelela's Youth Liaison Officer, Focus Dlamini has been through many of the challenges the young people we support also face.
My name is Focus Dlaimini, I am a 27 year old male. I was born in the Manzini, Swaziland. I was raised by a single mother who passed away when I was 6, I did not know my father. My auntie decided to look after me. There were often misunderstandings between my relatives, which brought tension between me and auntie. The treatment I received from my aunt then started to be bitter and then the love I received was no longer the same. I was sometimes starved and forced to hunt for food in the forest. I did not know how to hunt, but I learned; me and my friends from the village would make a hole in the ground to catch rabbits.
As the abuse at home continued, the only option that seemed available for me was to run away. Therefore one night after being starved I decided to run away and live on the streets of Manzini city.
One day, as I was wandering the streets, I came across a clothing shop and out of surprise I looked into the big window where I admired a lot of nice clothes and thought to myself what would it take to wear some of those clothes. Surprisingly the clothes were worn by dummies, which I thought were real people who were going to move when I stared at them. I had never seen them before because I came from a small village.
Soon after, somebody from my village, saw me in town and brought me back to the house. I did not like it there and I knew the treatment would be worse so I ran away again. I knew I would meet some other street kids in Manzini as I once did before.
I used to sleep in front of the Manzini shops, in the drains, old houses, under big trees. I would make a small hut with cardboard and plastics. The plastic would allow light inside during the night from the street lights. I used glue as a drug because it was good during the winter, the glue would make me sleep well and feel warm because we had no blankets. It would feel like you were sleeping in a proper house.
For food I would get the leftovers from the street vendors, sometimes I would get food from the bins, or if I saw a person throwing away a pie or other food I would just pick it up and eat it. Some of the other boys would beg but I did not beg. We used to hear from other boys about a place that was helping street kids called Manzini Youth Care, but we were not that interested in it because we knew that we would be under control and have rules because we were used to the freedom of the streets.
Then, one night I met a white man called Greg (MYC volunteer social worker). Greg told me he would give me some assistance. He brought me and four other boys to MYC.
At first it was hard to fit into the system as the older boys bullied us so I often ran away. One day another social worker came to the street while doing the street search visits and took us back to MYC. We eventually started to fit into the organization and a volunteer lady named Sandra prepared us for entry into school for the first time. At the beginning of the following year, I started to my first ever schooling. I was 12 years old by then.
I started to feel at home again when I was staying at MYC. I was a good student and was doing well at school. I had a home and many of the other boys became my “brothers”. After years of study I qualified to do a degree course at University but, unfortunately I couldn’t secure the government scholarship.
In 2016, I got involved in an establishment of a non profit organization called Phumelela Project. I am currently employed and enjoy working with my surrogate brothers and sisters and since we come from the same background there is a trust and bond with the people I work with. I have contact with the people we are helping on a daily basis. I am looking forward to gaining vast experience in the NGO sector, so I can create a crucial impact on changing the life of my surrogate siblings. I wish the project could have enough resources to extend the caring hand to the same victims nationally. All in all I really love working with the youth, especially the ones who are struggling to cope with life's challenges. My own life experience gives me a great insight and understanding of their problems. I now have a stable life and am a key part of the Phumelela Project team.
It brings me great pleasure to have made it up to this far in life and now my life proves to be on the right lane to a brighter future.