I'm very grateful for this opportunity. And I would like to share my story with you.
My name is Donovan. I basically grew up without a father, without a mother's love.
My mother left me when I was about six/seven years old. I lived with my aunt and my grandfather when I was a little boy, six years of age. And my aunt had to take care of her own children, she had three children.
And my uncle was also in our house and myself and my sister. She's about four years younger than me, she also grew up without a dad. It was very difficult for me. It was really not easy.
My life was very poor. My mom lived for many years on the street with her boyfriend. And as time went on, my grandfather was the only one that was working in the house. My aunt was not working. My uncle was there, he was working, but he didn't really contribute.
So we basically just lived on my grandfather's salary and he didn't earn a lot of money. He used to work in sales. During that time, when there was no food on the tables, we had to go sleep hungry.
Even when I went to school, there was nothing to take. It was very difficult, you know? So, it was not easy for me. My mind was affected. My concentration levels were affected.
I was thinking most of the time about my dad and my mom. I had no idea what she was doing on the streets. I was thinking why did she do that? Why did she leave me behind? Why did my father leave me behind? It was just difficult.
And I couldn't think good thoughts. It was all the negative thoughts in my mind. And I just couldn't even focus on my schoolwork. It was very difficult but I passed from grade one to grade 11. It wasn't easy.
And then in my matric year, I didn't do well. And I failed. I didn't feel good. There was no joy in me, there was no love because of my past.
And then I made the decision on my own, not even my aunt or my grandfather encouraged me, to do my matric over. I had to use my discretion.
And I did supplementary exams that time. Went for extra two lessons and it helped me and I passed matric. Didn't pass well but I just made it. I was grateful that I had matric.
And then after matric, I think I was about 18/19 years old at that time.
I got a job. I was working at wholesalers. I was working from Monday to Sunday.
I wasn't earning a lot of money. I was earning 170 Rand a week. That time my mom wasn't there still. So my grandfather was still working alone.
And from that money, I contributed to the house to buy some food. It really helped. I was working for three years in a shop. And as time went on, my mother's boyfriend passed away on the street. And she eventually decided to come home.
It was not easy. Because when she came home, I mean, I didn't
feel good. I didn't know what to say. There was no love between me and my mom because she didn't say why she left us. It was just difficult. There was no joy in my life.
And since that time, I got another job. I was working in a factory. And, as time went on, I helped my mom. I gave her money once a week because I got paid weekly. She just wasn't happy. She wasn't even grateful for it. And it was a bit sad.
And later, I also found out that I have two older sisters. One is eight years older than me. One is about 10 years older than me. I wasn't aware of it.
My mom didn't even tell me. Both of them fare from one dad and all of us from one mother. I started to know them a bit better.
I was so sad, emotional. There was no love inside of me and my journey went on.
I met someone in my life. A beautiful person. My wife. I got married at the age of 29. In my marriage, it was not easy.
Then my wife expected a little baby. And after the firstborn, it was difficult for me to be a dad. Very difficult. I didn't know how to love her because I never received love from my dad, from my mom. It was difficult and I was emotionally drained.
That time, I wasn't even thinking about getting help, from a psychologist, psychiatrist. No one told me that I need some help from a psychologist, psychiatrist.
But a few years later, I went for some help because everything got a bit too much for me. There was a lot of anger in my marriage. I couldn't handle things. There was a time when I wanted to commit suicide, I was suicidal.
But I couldn't because I was thinking about my girls, you know, my two daughters. But eventually, I got help, I went to go see psychologists and psychiatrists. I was on medication.
I saw the psychologists on a regular basis, they helped me a lot. It was through the psychologists that I got to know about the Gratitude app, how to be grateful. I wasn't aware. And then, every day I was saying, I'm grateful for this, I'm grateful for that. It really helped me.
And, it went on probably more for more than a year. It went on and was still not easy. Before I got married, I didn't think that I will be a good dad one day, or I will be married, I will have children. I will have a good future because of my past, the way I lived my life.
But then things started to happen in my marriage. Things started to get better after the counseling. And I said that I want to be a better person. I want to be a better dad for my girls. Try to be a good husband for my wife. That's what I want to do. And I started to be more grateful each and every day.
Today, I'm just very grateful for my life, the type of person I am today. I'm grateful for my past because the past made me a stronger and wiser person. I'm grateful for the lessons that I've learned in my past.
And what I've learned from my past story is that I need to let go and focus more on myself, on my future, on the positive things in life. To think more positively, to be more grateful each and every day.
Especially, my two daughters, I want to be a big example for them because I know they are so many in this world that went through what I went through. Grew up without a dad, without a mom.
But there is always hope for them. And, they can become a better Dad, like me. Because I know many just gave up already, focused too much on the past. But they can do the same with what I went through.
So my story is basically filled with love, with happiness, with blessings. I'm thankful that I'm alive, each and every day. I try to make the world a better place in my little way. And I can just hope that my example will inspire so many in this world to do the same.