Dancing into leadership

2018-07-17 06:01

When 31-year-old Gavlyn Francis walked through the doors at Life Changers in Lotus River, little did he know the change that would take place in his life would have an impact on others.

Originally from Mitchell’s Plain, Francis was addicted to various substances for 13 years and contemplated suicide before a series of events led him to start an all-girls gospel hip-hop dance group, with their sights set on higher achievements.

“At my lowest point, I was like a bergie on the streets, so I did a Bible study course for a year, but it did not work for me because I was playing with God the whole time and ended up in the streets again. My story is almost like a movie,” says Francis.

Francis was kicked out of Bible school in November 2016 and wound up back on the streets of Parow with nowhere to go. Francis then devised a plan which would see him visit his family in Lotus River that Christmas, but it would only serve as another means to fuel his habits.

“I was not even clean yet, and I spun a whole story of how well I was doing in Bible school because they did not know that I had been kicked out of Bible school. So on Christmas Day, my mind told me that I had to steal money,” he says.

The decision started a series of events: He went back to Mitchell’s Plain where his life was put in danger and he was reluctantly rescued by his mother, only for him to once again to end up back on the streets.

But this series would be the catalyst for him to make a positive change. While he was in his self-induced tumult, Francis was triggered into attempting suicide when a woman he had asked for water gave him contaminated dishwater. However, he was spotted by a woman from the Bible school who cornered him and called his family.

They brought him back to Lotus River, with the help of the aunt he had stolen money from only a week earlier. Francis expected to be met with hostility – instead, he says his reception by other family members was unexpected.

“They are not talking about the (stolen) money. I am experiencing something different now. I am from the streets and only know the hard life. These people were showing me love,” he says of his acceptance back into his family.

He jokes that his cousins still make fun of his struggle to rid his feet of the smell of the streets for four days, but he says it is a reminder to both them and him of where he has come from.

Through the help of one of his cousins, Francis walked through the doors of the Life Changers Foundation and things changed for the better, allowing him to start a dance programme.

The programme initially formed part of a holiday programme at the centre, but has since evolved into a fully fledged project. V Continued on page 4.

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