– by Bianca Rabbaney

It is a very cold winter’s night; myself and my husband-to-be are sitting in the church courtyard, its pouring with rain. I am feeling sick, hungry, and ice cold. You probably ask yourself, “Now how do people like you get into these types of situations?” Let me tell you. My name is Bianca and I was a drug addict for the past 22 years. Prior to tonight, I did not see my husband for nearly 1 ½ months. The fighting and drug intoxicated relationship created a lot of unhappiness. I ran away time and time again just to feed my habit. All I wanted was just drugs, and this was all I knew. Every day was a constant battle. Many nights I wished God could just take me away from this cold and destructive lifestyle.

Alcohol, drugs, and abuse
I can’t say I came from a dysfunctional background. I was raised with 6 brothers and 1 sister in a very staunch catholic home. Even though we were poor, our parents tried to give us all we needed. Clearly coming for a good background does not necessarily mean you are going to be. I got caught up in the wrong company. I started smoking marijuana at 16 years old and was drinking excessively. By 18 I started smoking crack. I tried time and time again to stop. I decided after my 21st birthday to stop, but this was not for long. I met up with the wrong guy that got me hooked all over again. I believe that drug addiction is not a lifestyle that you just fall into. You have to be introduced by someone to know what it is all about. Like many addicts, my story is not that much different. Yes I had my fair share of abuse in addiction. I was high-jacked, raped, and was used to doing things beyond my own control. Addiction has a way of manipulating you to think that it’s everybody else to be blamed and not the drugs. 

Blaming God for all that was wrong
My life was ruined, every relationship I had never lasted. My children were living with their grandparents, the father of my children wanted nothing to do with me. My family could not help me at all. Put it this way – they did not know how to help me anymore. I was lonely and knew I was dying, physically and spiritually. I started blaming God for everything that went wrong in my life. My turning point came in the church courtyard that very cold night when my now husband told me that he had given his life to God, and was going into recovery. We held each other tight and I decided that night it was time to end this chaotic lifestyle.


A second chance
The next morning, he told me about a place called U-turn and that they offer a breakfast and clean clothing – and most importantly the Word of God. I was so afraid – actually more ashamed – when I went to the Powerhouse in Claremont. To my surprise, I was welcomed with a warm bowl of porridge and cup of coffee. For once in such a long time I felt I had some sort of direction. Day after day I went to the Powerhouse, and then one day I was called in by the Occupational Therapist and was offered a bed at the Wynberg Shelter. I stayed there for 4 months and was booked at the Matrix Rehabilitation Programme. I completed my 120 days sober, and then graduated.

Equipped with skills
I was requested to go for an interview at the U-turn Head Office, where I was offered a place on the Life Change programme. There I worked as a sales assistant in one of the charity stores and earned a small stipend. At this time, I was still attending the rehab classes, which were once a week at the U-turn Head Office. Some of the main skills that I learnt while on the programme would have to be having integrity and knowing my worth; learning patience and respect; as well as parenting skills, money handling skills, IT skills, and Bible study. 

A story of success
After 9 months of being on the programme, I progressed and was given a few more responsibilities in the store. Then I was offered a contract as a supervisor to have the full responsibility of running the store in Wynberg Maynard Mall. So, after being on Life Change for 1 year and 3 months, I officially graduated from the programme. I now have my own place in Lansdowne. I got married and have a great relationship again with my family and daughters. All praise to God who showed me mercy. When people ask me how I did it, I smile and say: “Just surrender to God and He will do the rest of the work for you.”

Give God all the glory
I am proud to say that I am now 2 years and 8 months clean. I am planning to go for a Recovery Coaching course so that I can help others. All I can say is that God has used U-turn as a vessel to help those who are lost to come back into society. I thank Him every day. I also pray every day and use my workplace to try and help those who are still in bondage. It is not an easy road, but it is all worth it in the end.

U-TURN equips people with skills and work opportunities to overcome homelessness. Visit homeless.org.za for more information.

JOY! Magazine (February/March  2019)

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