A former drug addict, Isaac Petersen, 33, from Bayview, published his first book in an effort to inspire and change the lives of other young people facing the same challenges.
A Plain Story tells about Mr Petersen’s life as a young man growing up on the dusty streets of Mitchell’s Plain and his many hardships.
“This book defines me and tells a little bit about my family. It captures my life as a teenager in Westridge and what my friends and I got up to. It also tells how I was introduced to drugs, gangs and violence,” said Mr Petersen.
He grew up in a strict family – his father was a pastor. He tried his hand at writing while still at school but he was not encouraged to take it further.
“I started writing poems at school but I never paid a lot of attention to them because I had no support.”
“I started smoking cigarettes at the age of 12 and at the age of 15, I started to smoke weed (dagga). And I became addicted to more serious drugs in 2004,” he said, hastening to add that he is not bragging about his history but trying to warn other people to stay away from drugs.
He said he often left his home to go around with friends.
“I was so skinny. There were times when I couldn’t eat food for almost a week, only eating raw eggs. I was arrested after police found drugs in a car that I was in with my friends, but I received bail. The case was later dropped,” he said.
Mr Petersen said that incident had made him re-evaluate his life and he thanked God for changing his life.
“I’ve dedicated my life to Jesus. Since that incident I’ve changed. There was no one who came to talk to me, it just happened. Something super-natural changed my life,” he said.
He said without God he wouldn’t be alive. And he thanked God for his protection.
“When I was six I almost drowned in the sea. When I was 12, I got epilepsy and when I was 16 years old, I tried to commit suicide because I was depressed because of drugs. But with the grace of God I managed to pass through all those stages and I’m still alive,” he said.
Mr Petersen said in his book he also tries to change the perception that people have of Mitchell’s Plain.
“People know Mitchell’s Plain as the drug capital in the country, but in my book I want to show them that there are good people in the area. It has challenges like any other areas,” he said.
He said when he started writing the book no one believed that he was going to finish it.
“I started writing this book in 2004 and I finished it in December last year. I wrote the first three chapters, and I gave them to other people to read, but they never gave me any feedback. I was so discouraged, but I told myself I won’t stop,” said the father of two.
Mr Petersen said his challenge was to get a company to publish his book.
“I sent a book proposal to several companies asking for help, but they never came back to me. I was so depressed, thinking that I’ve written a book and might end up not publishing it, but later I got a contract,” he said
He said the book is not written only for people of Mitchell’s Plain but for everyone who has social problems and who wants to quit drugs.
“I didn’t write this book for money, but to inspire, inform and uplift people. Only if you believe can you change,” he said.
To buy a copy of A Plain Story, call Mr Petersen on 084 599 9151 or email firstname.lastname@example.org