22 December 2012

Tanzania: Justin Steven - I Will Wipe My Own Tears

Justin Steven Dalius has never known a home where there is father and mother, raising their children. He has endured a lot of suffering in a bid to lead a normal life, even when the world around him was falling apart.

Like all children, he has cried and laughed but unlike them, he has never had a chance to play and enjoy parental warmth. Now he has set out to search and recover a missed opportunity and believes that one day, he will make it and wipe his tears. Born in 1994, Justin has gone through thick and thin, and perhaps God wanted things to happen this way so that he could give a testimony.

He was born and grew up in a harsh environment but, managed to beat the odds and is now waiting for his 'O' Level results. Instead of sitting idle as he awaits the exam results however, Justin has decided to involve himself in script writing and is also preparing to star in a number of films.

"I don't have biological parents. The kind woman I thought was my mother turned out to be only a Good Samaritan who picked me up from my mother, a few moments after I was born. She had been feeding my mentally ill and pregnant mother on the streets of Kariakoo area, where she was running a food stall business.

My mother used to visit her work place and when she went into labour, the woman assisted her. Unfortunately, my mother died soon after I was born. The Good Samaritan took me to her home. She was too busy to look after me and handed me over to her sister who lived in Tabora.

Sadly the woman also died and I was to live with her aunt who had a family of four children." When other children went to school every day, Justin who was now seven years old, remained home, preparing meals for the family. As days passed by, he was tasked to sell drinking water at Tabora Railway Station. He also sold biscuits and sweets to passengers and took home his day's proceeds.

"It was a painful experience, I longed to be in school but nobody in the family listened to me. I made up my mind to leave Tabora to look for my the Good Samaritan whom I called grandma in Dar es Salaam, " says Justin. He sneaked from home and boarded the train, selling water to passengers and dodging the conductor as he had no fare. Once in the city, Justin joined a group of homeless children, begging and wreaking havoc in busy and business areas.

All this time, he was hoping to see his grandma whose name he did not even know. His juvenile group was also a criminal gang. It terrorized shopkeepers and snatched merchandise from stalls and petty traders. Police responded promptly and rounded up some of them. "

A chap showed us how to steal car side mirrors. A motorcycle helmet disappeared within a minute after the owner parked it. We inhaled glue and petrol to give ourselves courage. But the police would not hear such nonsense. They came to us with fire, dispersed and arrested us. A bullet hit my leg. I was hospitalized for some time," says Justin. Coming out of hospital some months later, Justin vowed not to get involved with street gangs.

He had lost some of his very close friends and was dying to see his grandma, so he could ask her to take him to school. Then the unbelievable happened. As he was staring at some cars one fine day, he spotted a taxi whose passenger was leaning for support. It was his grandma!

She was coming from hospital where she was undergoing treatment for cancer. She took him home and after he was settled, she told him that she was not his grandmother, but a mere Good Samaritan. Justin was able to reform and started going to school. The family had recorded some success stories and their children had grown up.

In 2004 however, the Good Samaritan died. Life was never the same, as his surrogate father married another woman who did not accept Justin as a member of the family. In another turn of events, Justin's 'father' got a scholarship to study Qur'an in Oman. Justin had no other option but put up with the gaps that life was creating.

He concentrated on studies and vowed to work harder. He had enrolled for secondary school education at Ilala Secondary School When did he start acting and writing scripts? " When I was a child, I saw an Easter play in which one of the characters wore a mask. He introduced himself after the play and this stunned me. I had never seen people acting. I spotted my talent that Christmas as one of the characters in a play.

I started writing scripts when I was in Standard Four. Unfortunately, I used the names of my fellow pupils in the plays. They would report me and the teacher would give me a thrash," says Justin with a smile, as he reminisces those trying moments of his life.

At Ilala Secondary School, he has performed well and is almost certain he would make it to 'A' Level. He has starred in a competition that brought together 12 schools in Dar es Salaam, organized by the PCCB and his school, using a script he wrote, emerged the winner.

In another competition organized by TAYOA, his scripts also warn and was awarded six classrooms. What if Justin doesn't make it to a higher level in school? "I have a vision for a bright future. My ambition is to join the film industry. I have struggled to make it to where I'm, I believe that God is generous and will not abandon me," he says.

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