Jodie-Lee Donnison Torlage – Born with the purpose of making a difference
I am 26, an adoption advocate, fighter of equality and justice, and really just your average girl, trying to make this world a better place.
I have always been conscious of living a purposeful life. With that always playing in my mind, I have struggled with keeping my head in books, and trying to work your average 8-5 job. And through all the figuring out, understanding my passion and my purpose, I am here. In my happiest place, doing what completely fills my soul, and if there is one thing I want you to remember at the end of this, its this – YOU ARE NOT FULLY ALIVE UNLESS YOU ARE LIVING YOUR PASSION AND FOLLOWING YOUR UNIQUE PURPOSE ON THIS EARTH!
Growing up with a passion for children and for justice and equality, my heart always knew that adoption was absolutely my best option and part of my plan. At the age of 24, with my then boyfriend (who is now my husband) we started the adoption process, and although we are not at the finish line, we are NEARLY there. It has been beautiful, complicated, joyful, confusing and incredible all in one. My goodness can the journey be tough, BUT, regardless of how tough it has been, I would do it again and again, a million times over, with not a doubt in the world. Our boy has completed our hearts. FYI – I am not infertile, I chose to have this boy birth from my heart and not my tummy. I would never have wanted it any other way. Adoption is beautiful, and I would really encourage you to explore it, because those misconceptions you have probably heard over and over again, are more than likely not true.
Right, so 15 years old, knowing my passion for justice, equality and wanting to make a difference in this city, I stepped foot into one of the most dangerous spaces in the Durban CBD, a shelter run by the TDK gang, buzzing with drugs, alcohol, weapons, barely any beds. Groups of people sitting in circles feeding the addiction to each other, kids running around in the midst of the horrific, gloomy smells, and it was in that space, in that moment, that I found myself. And the rest, is history.
That led to working with organisations, going down to our city at night, visiting the shelters, walking journies with them, most wouldn’t dare, and stepping foot into some of the most horrific places I have ever seen. It led me to meeting people that most would have ignored, and led me down many dark alleys that reminded me time and time again what my purpose on this earth is.
For 3 years, I did this, showing up, and being there, regardless of how many times they got it wrong, and how many times they messed up. In April this year, I felt a huge sign from God, that I needed to formalise this, focus on this burning passion of seeing the lives in our city transform, and so Connected was born.
Our mission is to meet our friends where they are and love them as they are. To be the light in an often very dark world and to journey back with them to their state of wholeness. We take programmes to the city to uplift and empower them, and YUP, we show up, week after week, walking a journey to freedom and finding each of their purpose on this earth.
We get to know our friends by name, their story, their skills, and what is next. For many, the next step is rehab, or it may be as simple as an ID, or it may be the fact that they haven’t found work which has led them to the street life.
We work around the Sydney Road area, filling those streets with kindness, love and connecting with those that have felt ignored and unvalued. Our vision is to see the numbers on our team expand, while those sleeping on the streets decrease, and I am super happy to report back that in 4 months, we have 4 guys that have found their purpose, have moved off the streets and have started a new chapter. 6 guys are on the waiting list for rehab, to start over and move on from the addictions. And so much hope coming to life in a space that was once so dark.
I am living proof that following your passion, knowing your purpose, and understanding your calling, completely transforms your life.
At the age of 26, having been through 5 jobs, constantly trying to full my bucket, but forever feeling like there must be more, I am finally living in that MORE. My heart is forever overflowing, lives are being completely transformed through a passion I could have ignored.
When faith is bigger than fear, something incredibly huge happens. DON’T IGNORE IT!
So that’s me, my balance is family, and seeing lives transform, no matter how many times they get it wrong, we will show up, just as your own family does when things go wrong.
So, go do something that sets your soul on fire today, and just watch how your world around you shifts into something a little more beautiful than before!