Couple brings hope for substance abusers

Donovan and Shayleen Jacobs from People of Hope.

Donovan and Shayleen Jacobs are proof that there is still hope for those who suffer from drug addiction.

The couple have been self rehabilitated for seven years because “they found God”.

During the healing process they started to give back to the Retreat community and started a non-profit organisation called People of Hope.

The aim was to focus on a feeding scheme for substance abusers.

Mr Jacobs, who grew up in a well-respected family in Grassy Park, said he was a rebellious teenager.

He was the only son and had two sisters.

Mr Jacobs, 50, said he needed much more attention than his siblings.

“I suffered from eczema and I was self conscious when my skin was scarred. I wore long sleeves and long pants and refused to show my hands in public.”

Mr Jacobs said he developed a low self-esteem sought comfort in drugs. He was kicked out of many schools.

At the age of 17 he made a girl pregnant and had to face resentment from his family.

While he did get married, after years of building up a business and making lots of money, he found a need to feed his drug habit again.

He ended up losing three houses and after 21 years of marriage, got divorced. “I ended up on the streets.”

On the streets, Mr Jacobs learned to hussle, even “paying off police officers who tried to arrest me”.

Mr Jacobs said despite living on the streets he always knew, at the back of his mind, that there, “was something better for me”.

He said he almost ended up in jail for a drug-related incident. And it was in the holding cell at Wynberg Magistrate’s Court where he met his wife. Although Mr Jacobs was acquitted of criminal charges, Ms Jacobs was not so lucky and she went to jail for six months.

Ms Jacobs grew up in Retreat and said she experienced domestic violence at a young age.

She fell pregnant at the age of 15 and left school. She turned to using drugs with the father of her baby. “I was on the streets, taking mandrax and tik,” she said.

Ms Jacobs, 33, was arrested and sent to jail where she met Mr Jacobs. “We stayed together, on the streets, and got married two years later.”

While still an addict, Mr Jacobs saw the youth wasting their lives on drugs. “Although I was taking drugs I was always the one who tried to convince others to stop taking drugs.”

The turning point for him came when he ended up next to a dying friend who was shot in gangster territory in Retreat. “I saw that man die and told my- self that I will not end up that way.”

At the age of 43, he turned to God. “I dissected myself. I was using a strategy for recovery through discovery. I use the Bible as my life’s manual.”

The Jacobs couple hand out soup every Wednesday at Sterling Court, in Goodman Road, Retreat, at 2pm.

For more information or if you want to join them or if you want to give any donations, contact Mr Jacobs on 062 099 1380.