Grief and abuse
Losing four family members, including her mother, in one year left Nokulunga grief-stricken and hopeless.
"I was 13 years old when my mother passed on after a short illness. I then had to drop out of school when I was in grade seven to look after my little brother who was a year old at that time. While mourning the loss of my mother, my grandmother followed within a few months. My aunt became ill and passed on and she was followed by my brother who also passed on after a short illness. Losing all the people I loved in a year left me broken and without hope," she said.
In order to provide for herself and her little brother, Nokulunga sold cardboard boxes and sometimes took food from rubbish bins. That same year Nokulunga was sexually abused by five boys.
"They found me walking not far from home and they took me a nearby house where one of them lived. They instructed me not to scream because I was going to anger them and push them to killing me. They took turns to abuse me sexually and only released me later on in the evening. I did not have anyone to share my ordeal with because I lived with my little brother. That was when the pain of losing my mother returned afresh," said Nokulunga
She sought comfort in alcohol and drugs.
"I drank alcohol and took drugs because I wanted to shift my focus away from the painful experiences I went through. Substance abuse ruined my relationship with my brother as we always argued whenever I was drunk," she said.
Nokulunga started attending the services at the Universal Church and took part in the chains of prayers every day.
"After a year in the church I was able to stop drinking and doing drugs. At a service, I was encouraged to start my own cosmetics business. My finances improved as I was able to provide for myself and my brother. We now have a good relationship and enjoy spending time together. Knowing that my life is in the hands of God gives me peace," said Nokulunga.