Mario van Niekerk was eight years old when his family fell apart. His father died in a gas explosion, and his mother was struggling to make ends meet. Van Niekerk was angry, alone, and without mentors. At the age of 11, a gang in his community offered Van Niekerk the sense of belonging he was yearning for. In trying to forge a family, he lost his childhood. Years later, when Van Niekerk became a father, he saw himself in his son’s eyes. He couldn’t allow his child to grow up the same way he did. Van Niekerk knew he had to end the cycle of gangsterism.
Read Van Niekerk's full story here.