After seeing the situation getting worse in her community, Deborah Pearl-Olckers returned home to bring change to Lotus River.She has spent years travelling the world preaching at the International Orion Church and came back in December last year to open the new branch, Orion Church Lotus River. Since ministering is what she does best she uses her church to uplift the community and run different programmes such as a soup kitchen and gives motivational talks.Pearl-Olckers says upon her return she realised that preaching alone would not make a difference.“I wanted to come back home and show them that your location does not make what you want to be. You make the difference that you want to see. There is more in Lotus River,” says Pearl-Olckers.She says guidance is vital and that is why she created a comfortable space within “the now known as a drug infiltrated community.”“You can see that young people are yearning for it, they want to know the rules, but they do not know where to get them.”On Saturday 6 April Pearl-Olckers hosted a special event for young women under the theme love stories and pink. Women were encouraged to dress in pink and white and were provided a platform to tell their stories.The event aimed at encouraging them to start by loving themselves and spread that love to people around them, “whether its spouses, children, neighbour, just anyone. That love will connect and we can have communities full of love.”She says due to social challenges and lack of support systems, criminal elements infiltrated and swallowed many youths, making them believe that gangsterism and drugs were the only way in life.Pearl-Olckers says despite the reputation the community has, she wants it to be known that it has many decent people who only want the best for the community. She says through the events and the initiatives, they are trying to build relationships with the youth, saying rule and relationship go hand-in-hand and if one is lacking any of those then nothing positive can come out of it.She makes an example of a parent with a broken relationship with a child. That is why you would find that the majority of youth involved in social ills come from dysfunctional families, or those who have no father figure and or come from a severe poverty-stricken background. Pearl-Olckers says their event does not discriminate and they do not want people to feel judged.“We are open to anyone, even the soup kitchen is for everyone.”She says the initiatives they run are funded through the proceeds of their monthly clothing sales. She encourages youth especially young women to take advantage of any community uplifting programmes and to continue to empower themselves. V For more information about the programmes visit their Facebook page: Orion Church Lotus River.