We have all heard that saying, “Been there, done that, got the T-shirt to prove it”! Well, this story moves that saying to a whole new dimension.

As the rains start to fall, the street ministry teams find it pointless to walk through the empty wet streets, so they focus more on the shelters. These places, which are privately owned, house many unemployed, underprivileged and lower income people, who pay a daily minimal fee for a bed to lay their weary heads. Some shelters offer 2 meals a day with tea which of course comes at a higher cost. The residents all share common space with each other. There is no privacy and lots of theft which causes many to sleep on their life belongings, as it is all that they have.

There is a lady in her late twenties who stays in such a shelter- her name is Neela.

She may be young but her life experiences hugely outweigh those of people already in their fifties. She is riddled with traumatic incidents, which have left her emotionally and mentally bruised. On top of all that, she suffers a severe medical condition.

By the age of five, Neela and her brothers were force fed excessive alcohol, which rendered them unconscious and conveniently “put them out of the way”. Her alcoholic parents were then able to continue their carefree life.

By the age of 10, Neela was watching full blown pornography, and even trailed after her parents in adult venues. Also by this age, she had experienced countless, painful sexual, physical, and verbal abuse; not only by her own parents, but by other partners they shared.

In her early teens, Neela was kicked out of her home and sent out into the streets. She was separated from her brothers at the age of 12 and has never seen them since. However, she does know that one is in prison and the other still resides in her home city of Cape Town. She was rescued and taken in after that by numerous families, some who claimed Christian faith, but behaved like those of the world. This of course embedded doubt in her mind about the supposed loving Jesus they spoke of, because of the contradictory ways they lived by. She did attend church for a while, and does know about Jesus, but she is confused with no direction.

By this stage of her life, Neela had become defensively bitter. And to top it all, she became extremely ill with colon cancer, a disease that eventually took her mother’s life. Neela was admitted to a state hospital where she underwent extensive surgery. She had to have her colon removed because it was riddled with cancer. There were no funds to pay for her medical, so the state covered all costs and she was awarded a state grant of R1000.00 per month. She worked for a while but left for unknown reasons. She has never received guidance so is ignorant when it comes to handling her finances effectively. She is very good in paying her monthly rent of R750.00 at the shelter, but thereafter, wisdom fails her.

Today she lives in the shelter and even after all she has been through, she bubbles over with joy in her heart just because she has a bed to sleep in, and people around her that don’t abuse her. She has the most beautiful smile which continually embraces her face when she talks, and even though she has nothing, she freely gives others when she has extra.

The team still needs a lot more time to help this wonderful lady in the ways of the Lord Jesus. She is a wounded soul who not only boasts ‘been there, done that and have the cap to prove it’, but more so, ‘been there, experienced everything, and have lived the life to prove it’!