Life has thrown 25-year-old Patrick Salvador more than just a few curve balls, but somehow he has managed to overcome them all. He doesn’t want people to feel sorry for him. Rather, he wants everyone to read his story as a motivation to never give up because, he says, “where there is life there is hope”.
Patrick was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He never knew his father, and his mother died in his first year of school. He was too young to understand this so his grandparents raised him as their own. But one day, life as he knew it came crashing down.
“My grandparents called me in when I was 14 and told me that they are not my parents. I always believed that they were. When they told me they were not my parents, I wanted to end it all.” He tried to swallow a bottle of pills but his grandmother stopped him just in time.
He then moved to South Africa and started school at Simon Estes Music High School in Wynberg, Cape Town.
“It was challenging. I didn’t understand English, and people would make fun of me. But I stayed and pushed through. I loved playing the piano. When it came to piano class, I made sure to focus.”
Life took another tragic turn for Patrick in 2013 when his brother passed away.
“My brother travelled a lot. He was on his way to George. I waited for his text message to tell me he arrived safe. I got nothing. I called and called. When they told me my brother had died, I didn’t want to believe it.”
He stops for a second, as the memory of his brother comes flooding back. “When my brother died, I thought there was nothing left for me in South Africa, I wanted to stay in DRC.” But his grandparents didn’t allow that. They urged him to go back to South Africa to finish his education.
“My grandfather would always motivate me. I then went back to South Africa to stay with my uncle and aunty and their children. My brother always spoiled me; anything I needed he would provide. I had to learn to live life without him.”
Adjusting to life with his aunty and uncle was tough.
“My aunty told me that I cannot eat for free and that I should drop out of school and go work as a security guard. I told her I will not drop out of school and I will finish my matric. I finished my matric at the age of 21.”
Patrick had to sit in the local park and study there, as his house was too noisy. There was a day care and music was always playing. His aunty did not make life easy for him.
“I would not get food to eat or water to bath. She would insult me and call me names. I found myself crying, even in front of my peers. No one knew why I was crying, they thought I was just sad because of my brother’s death.”
When his grandmother came to South Africa, she wanted to visit a Catholic church. It was there where Patrick met a priest who found out about his living conditions. It was through this encounter that Patrick met his future parents. At the age of 19, Patrick was adopted.
“This is rare, you don’t hear about someone being adopted at 19, but they took me in and became my new parents. I got funny stares from people, because they always asked me why are your mother and father coloured but you are African.”
His adopted parents made sure that his school fees were paid and as a result, he could then further his studies.
“After matric, I finished my N6 Business Management Diploma at False Bay College. I then started my own small businesses.”
Business runs through his blood he explains, “My father was a business man, I am following in his footsteps.”
Patrick is business-minded. He started off by opening a coffee shop with his friend, and then he invested in bicycles and selling them. Now, has a side business designing logos for people and websites. He also has a small catering business.
When asked where he sees himself in the next five years, he laughs saying, “Five years is too long! More like two years.” He sees himself with his own established business, a family, still serving the Lord, and not only successful but also happy.
His words for anyone who is losing hope:
“Don’t give up. Don’t underestimate yourself. Where there is life, there is hope. If you’re still alive today, there is still hope. Go do what you love and make it work for you.”
Tell us: How have you worked through hard times to achieve your goals?