My name is Joshwin Taurijo and my story with Usiko Stellenbosch started 15 years ago, back when I was in grade 8 at Stellenzicht Secondary school in Jamestown Stellenbosch.
I was introduced to Usiko by the principal at a stage in my life when I was rebelling at home and at school and deeply trapped in drugs. I grew up in a home where my father was a drug addict and my mother a heavy drinker, I witnessed and endured a lot of abuse, physically as well as emotionally and as a result I turned to drugs, and became addicted to escaping my reality.
At age 13 found myself in a lot of trouble, I had 11 court cases against my name (housebreaking / theft / robbery and assault). The school didn’t really know what to do with me and by that time I was thinking of leaving school, because my addiction had reached the point where I had to use daily, and that made it very hard to concentrate and comply in class. At Usiko I was reminded that I am special and I have a purpose despite all the negative things people would say about me. I was also challenged by the Usiko staff and mentors to change my ways and get my life in order.
I remember my very first Wilderness, where I was confronted with 3 questions: “ 1). WHO ARE YOU? 2). WHY ARE YOU HERE? 3).WHERE ARE YOU HEADING WITH YOUR LIFE?” I did not know that those very questions would later help me to change my life completely. Usiko helped me build a healthier identity and to understand that I have purpose no matter how damaged my life was. I decided to answer those three questions some time (while in prison) after my programme was done, and that gave me the wake-up call I needed.
Over the years, after completing my Usiko programme, people like Arnold Okkers always stayed in touch, either by calling or connecting with me on social media and for that I’m truly grateful. Today I can proudly say I am a changed man and a much better person, I am happily married, a father to a wonderful daughter, I live in my own house and I have a car. Looking back at where I was when Usiko came into my life and where I am now, I can only say that God’s grace has carried me through. Last year June I was afforded the opportunity to come work at Usiko as a facilitator in the Diversion and School based Programmes. I now get to plough back into young people who are where I once was, and it’s the best job ever! I am proud to go to work everyday knowing that we will make a difference in someone’s life.