Lehlogonolo Antony has lived a hard life but he has faced his demons and today, shares his incredible journey to help empower the youth and guide them down a better path. Antony credits his sobriety to the work he does with the kids.
Lehlogonolo Antony had a tough run from a young age. He had moved on to heroin and crack by the age of 17 and has spent the last 11 years trying to get his life back on track. He managed to achieve his sobriety a year ago and has since made a massive impact in his community.
Antony, now 28, has turned his entire life around. He had spent the last 10 years in and out of various rehab facilities. Every relapse pushed him further from his family until they couldn’t help him anymore. Antony spent two years living on the streets with nothing more than a cardboard box to call his own. His hard life has meant he became HIV positive and earned a criminal record.
All of these things are terrible, but nothing compares to the incredible journey he has taken to create a sober lifestyle. After a near-death experience, Antony had had enough of the course his life was on and sought out rehab once more. He signed up at the Wedge Gardens treatment facility and stuck to the 12-step programme.
“Wedge Gardens helped me get onto antiretroviral treatment and to come out to my family and friends about my HIV status. Because of them, I am today, an HIV and drug abuse activist.”
“It got so bad that when I was 17, I was in my first rehab and at 19, I had a criminal record. My friends and family gave up on me. It took five rehabilitation centres, being in and out jail, and months on the streets, for me to wake up enough to complete my N4 qualification in engineering.”
Antony joined his mother at her local church and together they helped set up a non-profit programme that helps children focus on music and takes them away from the temptations that are out on the streets. The programme gives them a safe space after school and caters to over 40 children.
Antony works with the brass band and talks to the kids about the real-life effects of drug abuse. He feels real stories help more and shares his story with them in the hopes that it will help discourage them.
“Drug education is one thing, but hearing about the dangers of abuse from someone who they can relate to, and who has lived through the horror, has a bigger chance of being effective.”