[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]At the age of 13 Ricky started drinking, because everyone else in his home was drinking.  It’s a story we have heard often.  A story of how a child moves from one dysfunctional home to another, and in the process is drawn into drugs, gambling and gangsterism. Ricky today is making choices to ensure that his own son will not inherit his life.

Ten years of his life was wasted in and out of prison. He sums it up in these words, “When I went into gangsterism, my dream died.  I didn’t have things that I wanted to do with my life.  Being on the U-turn programme made me focus.  It enabled me to dream again.”

From the age of 21 Ricky was living with his girlfriend and their small child in Strandfontein.  He was dealing drugs to provide for his family, and thought that was what they needed, not realising how unhappy they were about his lifestyle.  What they needed was for him to be at home as a dad, as a partner, providing for them with love and support.

One day when Ricky returned home after being away for eight days.  The house was empty. His girlfriend had left, taking his child with her.  In his anger, he sold everything except a mattress to sleep on and he used the money to feed his addiction. When the money ran out, so did his friends.

It was at this point when he began to question his choices.  He joined a Men’s group at HOSA – Hope South Africa in Strandfontein and they encouraged him to attend rehab at The Ark.  And so his relationship with Jesus started.

After six months of rehab at the Ark, he joined the Change Readiness programme at the Powerhouse.  “It’s there that I got hooked on U-turn!” he says enthusiastically. “They taught me how to control my anger and how to communicate with others.  They helped me to deal with myself and others from the inside out.  This course changed my life over again.  It put me on another level.”

Ricky and his girlfriend are back together again along with their 8 year old son.  They are living in Strandfontein in an informal settlement near Muizenburg.  Later this year they are hoping to get married and find a home in that area.

They are now both working for HOSA – Hope South Africa. They seek to help other people who are in the same position as Ricky found himself.  Because of his background, he understands where they are and the struggles they are battling.  He is able to empathise, to encourage and to talk with them.  He also spends time visiting those undergoing rehab and walks the road with them.

He recognises the pressure which his own son will face in a community where drugs and gangsterism is such a stronghold. Reflecting back to a time when his son was much younger he recalls how when asked him what he wanted to do in life. The answer shocked him. “I want to be a gangster.” was his reply.  He says those words have stayed with him and so in order to protect his child he takes him along wherever he goes.  “I take him to school. I take him to church.  When I go to the Men’s group I take him with me.  I want to be an example to him.”

Ricky recognises that U-turn has been a really special place but he says, “The key to staying on track is to keep yourself busy with things of the Lord.  Stay in the word.  It’s the only way to survive the evil out there.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]