The light at the end of the tunnel

2016-10-25 06:00
Andes Gillion from Parow has managed to find the light where there was never supposed to be any light at all. PHOTO: André Bakkes

Andes Gillion from Parow has managed to find the light where there was never supposed to be any light at all. PHOTO: André Bakkes

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The dark corridors of life hide many demons.

How does it feel to have nothing? No hope, no light... No love, no food, no dignity...

In February this year a 50-year-old man from Parow was fishing at a tranquil dam in Durbanville.

He had casted nine rods and was waiting patiently for that first fish to take a bite when he saw a young boy and his family.

Soon he talked to the boy who seemed fascinated with fishing. He told him that if his dad can successfully cast three times into the dam then he will give the boy a rod, hooks, bait and a fishing net, which he can keep forever.

The dad acquiesced and a short while later the boy caught a huge fish with his second-hand rod.

He looked proudly at his fish and then saw the laughing stranger nod his head approvingly. “See, this is what I want to do,” says the man from Parow.

Last week Andes Gillion called People’s Post’s sister publication, TygerBurger to find out more about an elderly couple mentioned in an article printed the week before, but instead it was the newspaper who found out more about Andes.

He dreams of helping the helpless...

Of empowering the vulnerable...

Of finding hope where, at first, there appears to be nothing but unimaginable terror just lurking in the shadows.

“A few months ago I met a homeless man who lived in a shelter in Woodstock. His wife and two children were living in a lounge in Table View. When I met the woman she was very depressed, because she did not have money to feed her children. I gave her money and she said she’ll pay it back. I said I don’t operate that way. If she has to pay it back then I’m not filling that hole with soil,” says Andes.

“I asked her if she was in a dark tunnel and whether she’s been praying to find relief of this tunnel. She answered yes. She only saw darkness. I then said her prayers have been answered, because I am with her in the tunnel and all I can see is light! I also see you, your husband and your children living in a house in Parow.”

On 1 June this year, the day Andes, his wife and his son moved into their new home in Parow, the homeless family moved in with them.

Andes inspires people, but dreams of empowering them to set their lives on a better path.

One might wonder what one man who sees only light can say to someone stuck in pitch blackness.

What does this ex-business analyst know about suffering, after all?

“When I went for psychiatric evaluation the woman just looked at me and asked me why I haven’t committed suicide yet. She said no-one could go through what I have gone through without killing themselves.”

Andes was just six-years-old when he was sent to an orphanage.

“I was an abused child and my mother was also horribly abused by my step-father. She tried to kill us (Andes and his two brothers) because she didn’t know what to do with us. So we constantly ended up in hospital. She fed us sleeping pills... Tried to chop our heads off. Stab us. We were put in a children’s home, a prison, in Port Elizabeth. It was their priority to get the 90 children out to families so that they can go on holiday themselves. They farm the children out to whoever can take them, so many of the children were sent to abusive families. They gave me up to this ‘God-sent angel from heaven’ for ‘holiday week’. I’ll never forget this. This Methodist, highly religious man, gave me a lot of alcohol one night and then early the next morning – on my 14th birthday – I had the most fearful experience of my life. I lay there, my blood running cold as cold as ice through every single vein in my body. I lay there with my eyes closed while this man was abusing me.”

Despite Andes being molested by a “man of God”, he emphasizes that God must not be judged.

“It wasn’t God’s will. It wasn’t God doing it. Actually God was suffering more than me when I was abused. He detested and hated it more than me while it was happening!”

After Andes left the children’s home he went to the army, and two years later he found himself standing on the side of the road, with nothing but his clothes. He had no idea how to operate in the real world. According to him he was raised in a type of prison, had no parents to guide him and had no continuity of friends. He adds matter-of-factly that most of the children he grew up with either committed suicide or died violent deaths after turning to a life of crime.

“There is no after-children’s home care,” he explains.

As close to destitute he can come, Andes went to the one person who could help him – the very same man who molested him as a 14-year-old.

“On the one hand he abused me, but on the other hand he could teach me. I chose to focus on the good, rather than the bad. The same can be said of my mother. She had her challenges and thought she did what was best for her children. I watched my step-father trample her hips so badly that she could never stand and walk again.”

The psychiatrist told Andes that she finds it astonishing that he went from being abused to forgiveness, and there was nothing in between. She said that people would normally move through the stages such as depression and anger before getting to forgiveness.

But Andes saw the light...

“Am I going to carry 100 kg of anger, hate, revenge and resentment in my life and move forward? Have you ever tried to take ten chairs and carry all those while writing an article? Those are the things that hold you down and keep you back!”

Andes has a dream, a dream to teach people how to overcome the bumps in the road. He dreams of empowering the homeless and hopeless, of teaching them how to fish instead of merely giving one to them.

And he is well on his way to change the world.

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