LIV has many stories to tell; one of which is the beautiful (ongoing) journey of Simon*, a once bewildered boy who turned into a running-hero who now acts as an incredible mentor and leader to his younger siblings and an inspiration to everyone he encounters.
Coming onto the village in 2012, Simon was on the road to destruction. After numerous incidents, social workers got involved and Simon was placed in the foster care of a LIV mother. Early in 2013, Chester Koyana (now General Manager of LIV Village) joined LIV as the Manager of the Sports Department. “I immediately saw that Simon had a natural ability to run long distances.” At that stage Simon was still very troubled and caused havoc by breaking into buildings on the village, vandalizing property and stealing.
Chester and a few other men who are prominent father figures in the lives of the children of LIV, started to walk a road with Simon and slowly but surely changes in behaviour started occurring. Chester specifically remembers one conversation where he asked Simon: “Is there anything you can compare to the rush you experience when you steal?” Simon’s answer was to win races. From that moment on the LIV team of mentors encouraged Simon to channel all of his energy into running. Simon started running around the village by himself. He eventually started competing. “His dedication, ongoing striving to be a better runner and eagerness to learn from one of LIV’s sports coaches, landed him a place in the KZN cross country team and although our boy didn’t win at the nationals, we are so proud for the perseverance that he has shown throughout this journey.” Apart from becoming the hero of his running team, Simon joined the LIV Choir on their UK-tour in 2016.
Feedback has been that Simon was one of the most well behaved children in the group and a real pleasure to have in the choir. Because of the environment he is in, he has become a village mentor overnight. “One of the things we have been seeing is how he is now mentoring the younger runners,” says Chester. By using sport as a vessel, LIV has such a platform to speak into this boy’s heart and to change the course of his life drastically. #LIVstories #LIVkids