FAIZEL ADAMS
Cape Town - Faizel Adams remembers a time when he lived in cardboard boxes, huddling under awnings in the city centre for shelter on nights when it rained, and searching through bins for food.

Now he is a religious leader in his community, and also a tour guide for the Cape Camino hiking trail which takes tourists on an outdoor adventure around the Peninsula.

Adams was born in Grassy Park but grew up in Ocean View. At 12, he started using mandrax. That was the beginning of 24 years of drug addiction which tore apart his life and left him homeless.

“All my buddies were gangsters. I couldn’t talk with them because they spoke a different language. So I joined the Naughty Boys gang.”

Two years later, Adams was kicked out of his family home. 

“I left my mother’s house at the age of 14 because I was a drug addict and I started stealing from my mother, selling it for drugs. I ended up on the streets, eating out of a dirt bin.”

Left homeless, penniless and with a drug addiction, Adams moved to the city centre and lived in cardboard boxes on the streets.

“The life of a drug addict is not a life,” he said. 

“A drug hobby is very expensive. You must eat and drink everything to survive.

“Whenever I go to my family, I must stand outside in the street. If there’s a party or celebration, I can’t enter. My mother would bring me a sandwich outside.”

Adams broke into houses and robbed people as part of gang activities. He was in and out of prison, and became a member of the 28s gang.

“Then one Sunday morning, I was doing eight mandrax and a couple of beers with my buddy. All of a sudden something told me I must look outside. I saw this light that was so bright.”

Despite being born and raised a Muslim, Adams had a powerful religious experience that made him instantly decide to leave behind his life of drugs and crime, and convert to Christianity.

“The same morning I went up to my mother. My mom and aunt were all laughing because they could smell the mandrax and beer on me. But since that day, I am by God.

“Today I’m a leader and evangelist. I’m a leader on the Khoi council,” he said. 

“Because I’m human, some negativity is coming to me, but I don’t want to go back to the old life.”

Adams works as a guide on the Cape Camino, which is a multi-day hiking trail around the Cape that showcases its beauty and history. His biggest desire is to help the youth of Ocean View.

“Kids from the age of 10 are walking round with gangs,” he said. “I go to the youth and tell them what God did in my life, tell them that to join a gang is not worth it.”

He is busy searching for funding to start workshops in the area that will offer employment for recovering addicts, because they struggle to find work that offers a way out of poverty.

“My desire is to reach out to those guys and to provide work for them. I’m trying my best to help the youth.”

Weekend Argus