South Africa – “I asked God one day: how am I going to get out of this”: Testimony of Abraham Lottering, from gangster to dedicated Salesian

02 October 2020

(ANS - Cape Town) - Abraham Lottering, also affectionately known by the nickname of “Mr. Focus ”, is a 39-year-old man who has a past of abuse and violence behind him. As a child, his parents abused him and, in the early years of his adult life, he was homeless. From an early age he was forced to try to survive amidst emotional and physical disturbances and soon found himself involved in drugs and the life of street gangs.

Despite the circumstances he was in, “Mr. Focus” had a desire to someday become someone important and with a purpose in life. He didn't know how he could escape this life of crime and violence, but he knew he wanted happiness.

Thus, together with his brother, he left the rural area where he lived and moved to the heart of the metropolis of Cape Town. It was during this time that he found refuge at the Cape Town City Missions, where the pastor took him under his protective wing, as he saw some potential in this young man. Abraham was welcomed by several people, but ended up being kicked out, living out on the streets for the next three years.

He said this was probably the worst experience he had ever had. “I asked God one day when I was really desperate, how am I going to get out of this?” Mr. Focus recalled. The City Mission pastor, after a long search on the streets, found him and encouraged him to work with young people. He introduced him to the Salesians and Abraham met Mr Greg Berry, who was involved in missionary work and youth activities. Greg helped him fill out a CV and find a real job.

He became acquainted with the program conducted by the Salesians "Waves of Change", which prepares young people at risk for employment in the maritime sector. This is where Mr. Focus has finally found his calling and he set himself the goal of learning as much as possible about this sector. Due to economic difficulties, however, the program was interrupted in 2018. Abraham, however, asked and obtained permission to continue free of charge, granted so as not to leave the young in need alone.

When South Africa was hit hard by the pandemic this year, Mr. Focus once again showed his dedication to young people by volunteering to accompany the Salesian Institute Youth Projects with the delivery of food packages. He put his life at risk to bring food and basic necessities to families in need.

“I want to be like Don Bosco,” Abraham says with a smile. “I want to spread happiness and hope. The Salesians is my home, I feel safe and know that I belong here.”



ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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