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“I have come that you may have life: life in all its fullness.” John 10:10

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Tracy’s story


"My mother’s sins won’t fall upon me.”

Just imagine waking up one day and finding out that your whole life is a lie; that the abusive life you were living was not normal. That’s when I decided to run away and find my own family. 

Everybody has their story why they’re on the streets. All we mostly want is love, to be embraced and be guided towards a certain direction of prosperity. Some of us were not give a chance to fight in this thing called life. 

You can call me ‘Mama Tracy’: that means I’m old enough to be your mother. I know I don’t look like it: but trust me I am. I hate and love sharing my story. I hate it in the sense that it brings back old wounds that I try to heal even today as I speak to you, because I never really I never got closure. But I also love it because I get to heal other people with my story. You are probably wondering what the story is… 

My story starts in the streets of Durban under the bridge in Clairwood. I was too young to even remember. It was five of us staying there - my mother and my 3 brothers. I was the youngest of the 4. I guess people would see us under the bridge and they reported it to social workers. They took us and sent us to a home. That’s where we were adopted by a lady called Mrs Frieda Ellis who stayed at Wentworth. I thought she was our mother but she used to treat us badly, making us clean the whole house and it was a big house. We would get a beating every day at school because we would always be late, just because of the work we had to do before we went to school. That made me very violent and tough. 

One day I decided to run away. I just wanted to be far away from that toxic place as much as possible so I would sleep at a friend’s house. She went to the social workers and reported me, saying that I always run away from home. So they searched for me until they found me, sent me to a place of safety: I was 13 years at that time. 

They sent me to Cape Town to the School of Industry for Girls. I used to like it there: it felt like a safe home. We used to go to school, go to church, help in the kitchen. They would take us to the beach and the biskop (cinema). It was fun. When I was 17 years old I got adopted again. I lived in Retreat with the Moses family: the wife was a teacher and the husband was a brick layer. They tracked down my family here in Durban.I came down to Durban to see my family. My cousin took me to search for my mother and I found her and I spoke and I said to her: "Ahhh mammy, we need a home now, we don’t have a home”. As soon as I said that she ran away again. I think she felt guilty for what she put us through when we were small. 

But all I wanted was my mother, I wanted to embrace her. I needed closure. 

But I was not going give up on her that easy. I searched for her again, I found her in the bush at Seaview in an old run-down brown building.  There was other homeless people there. She refused to come with us; she was in her 60’s at that time. All this time she was sick, we didn’t know.

 One day some policeman came to our house where I stayed with my cousin to let us know that she is sick. She was at King Edward Hospital. We went there to find her. I think she was waiting for one of us to get there. We were talking, talking, talking and then I decide to ask her why did she leave us. She looked at me straight in my eyes without even saying a word to give me the answer. She started fretting, her eyes went to the back of her head: all I could see was white in her eyes. And she died just like that. Without giving me an explanation, without giving me an answer because we are big now and we still need her. 

When I was 21 years old I met the most charming and handsomest man. We had a baby boy. When my son was 2 years old I was diagnosed with TB. While I was in hospital for TB the father of my son was murdered in cold blood due to gang violence. They caught him at the wrong place at the wrong time. That shattered my world so I decided to leave Wentworth come to Town so I can get a job and feed my son. But my son’s grandmother advised me to not leave my son. She said she doesn’t have a son anymore and this was his son. 

When I got to town I was staying outers. Some friends that I met on the street told me about the Cathedral centre before it became Denis Hurley Centre, when people used to be fed by a roller door garage by Mr and Mrs Govender. That’s when I knew that this was home. 

That’s when I started volunteering because there was nothing out there for me in the street. I put all my energy in this because this is the family I have now. Now I am a mother of 4 and a grandmother. I’m the boss lady at the Denis Hurley Centre kitchen and I make a mean chicken curry. 

I am Tracy Bolt, and I won’t let my mother’s sins fall upon me.