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My Life Journey: The story of Kevin Mokoena, a meningitis survivor

Johannesburg man seeks to inspire young people with his story.

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Profile Article by: Siphiwe Tsheu

This is the story of Kevin Mokoena, a 29 – year old Johannesburg man who seeks to inspire young people with his story.  Mokoena, who survived a Meningitis infection at a young age of two to three years, took time out to have chat with FLAIR’s Soweto based correspondent.

ST:  Please tell us a bit about who you are.

Kevin Mokoena is a 29 year old young man who grew up, and currently resides in Zola, eSoweto.  I work as a   waste management employee at the Helen Joseph Hospital. When I was 2 to 3 years old, I was attacked by an infection called Meningitis which made part of my life very difficult.

Meningitis is an Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord membranes, typically caused by an infection. It is usually caused by a viral infection, but can also be bacterial or fungal. It often affects part of your body like your spine and causes you to lose your posture at some point, as well as affects your hearing, like it did to me.

ST: How did this condition affect your Life?

This sickness affected me so much, which made me to be in and out of hospital, and go from doctor to doctor seeking help. At some point due to this condition, I had a swelling of my head, which caused my head to grow bigger than the normal size. I was no longer normal. I became a joke to everyone else, I used to cry everyday. My parents seeing how I used to be, finally decided on counseling. I attended counseling sessions about twice every week.

I used to have a lot of questions that needed answers. If I had to go  out, maybe go to the shops, I had to cover my heard with a hat because I did not want people to see me. Because of this I ended up being an introvert, and became very very shy. My movement was limited to only my home and outside my yard gate. I could not go further than that.

At the age of 11, I was so illiterate in that I was unable to read and write, and as a result I was demoted from grade 4 to grade 1, so that I could learn to read and write.

For years this was my life, and at various points I had suicidal thoughts and attempts. One day I took a tie, tied it around my neck in an attempt to kill myself. And on a few occasions I overdosed myself with pills trying kill myself, but I survived nevertheless. None of these were successful.

A lot of people used to compare me with a lot of others, some asking me why I did not become like my eldest brother who is a great soccer star, or so on and so on. I tried soccer, but after a few attempts, I realized it just was not for me.

ST:  When did things begin to change for you (for the better)?

My moment of change was when I got born again and received Christ into my heart as my Lord and Savior and I joined church in 2006. That’s when I got to discover my real self and who Kevin Mokoena is. My self esteem got boosted when I joined the Church Choir in 2010. I realized that singing was more of a calling to me than a hobby. I realized how much I loved singing and every moment I spent in the choir made a difference in my life and inspired me to be the best of me.

When I was at home, I used to look at myself in the mirror, talk myself up , and say, you are the only one of you God has, there’s  no one else like you. This helped me a lot, and gave me confidence and determination to tell my story and inspire others. From then on, I have gone on inspiring other young people in my community, and now my biggest goal and dream is to inspire and influence more young people in other communities in South Africa. .

ST: What would you like to tell a young person who’s probably going through what you have gone through or is at a place in their lives where they feel their life doesn’t count for anything?

I would like to encourage young people who might be going through the same experience, or had a similar experience which has affected their lives in either the same or another negative way.  Firstly you need to find your purpose. You need to discover who you are, and once you know who you are, find your rhythm, and what it is that you are passionate about. That is because we are not all created the same. Even our finger prints are not the same, everyone has a unique identity. Our hearts beat differently. Get to know your creator which is God. If you are not sure, ask Him what your purpose is, and He will reveal it to you. He’s a friend who sticks closer to you than your brother.

ST: What are you doing now? Are you currently involved in any projects or community based initiatives ?

Right now, I don’t have any community based projects that I’m involved in, but I do make time to initiate groups where I sing, and inspire young people. I also do motivational talks in the community.

ST: Where do you see yourself in the near future?

I see myself reaching out and inspiring more and more young people to live their lives to the best of their abilities, and to motivate them to be a burning and shining light in their communities. I also have a dream of having my first book with the working title Hidden Things you don’t know about Kevin, which I hope to have written and published next year 2021.

Siphiwe Tsheu is a Public Relations Management student at the Vaal University of Technology.  He can be reached at tsheusiphiwe@gmail.com. If you have a story to share with our readers, you can also get hold of the Flair Concepts Magazine at editor@flairmagazine.co.za or flairconcepts15@gmail.com

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