“From the Streets to the Stage”
Owen (OE‘s) Story
No one starts out life planning to be homeless , I never thought it would happen to me, but it did, and it changed everything about my life. I was only 13 years old. Growing up, life was hard. I moved around a lot with my mother. Family life was not good… There was always drugs and alcohol use at home. I never really had a stable home to live in until the age of 11… and even then it was in a rundown housing commission estate, in a rough area full of crime. After a huge fight with my mum, I found myself on the streets with nowhere to go and no one to turn to. I had nothing but the clothes on my back. I just left in a rush. I had no money in my pocket. In an instant my life went from complicated to very frightening.
You have never felt fear until you feel that feeling of nothingness. The feeling of being so lost even though you know where you are. I jumped off the train 3 stops later at Wollongong. Overwhelming thoughts cluttered my brain and I was thinking, jail would be easier than this situation. That night I had nowhere to go, so I slept at the train station… I had no idea what to do…. I was still yet to grow a beard and learn how to shave, let alone learn how to survive on the streets. I hid in the disabled toilets and locked it, and I slept on the cold floor. I did this for three months… but try sleeping in a toilet at a train station, constantly being woken up and kicked out by city rail workers, transit officers and police. Sick from the cold floor and nightmares I had almost every night. I tried to keep going to school but not having access to a shower and clean clothes, meant I got bullied… with everything going on in my life, it was too much, so I stopped going. Some of the toughest months of my life still to this day, were when I lived in that train station toilet.
Finally, I got sick of it. Something inside me had changed. I was a good kid. I had my problems like everyone else, but in my heart I knew I was good. But at this point in time, I wasn’t so sure. I was angry all the time. I would curse and lash out at strangers. Tired of being constantly broke and sick from the cold dark nights, I tried drugs…. At first it was to escape reality and to drown out the misery and comatose myself, to forget! But then I began to get addicted. The addiction grew higher daily and not being on drugs felt like the end of my world. I would feel horrible the next day…, but couldn’t stop. I kept using drugs, day after day to hide the pain. When I would try to finally face it, I was emotionally dead inside. The following months I got worse and I drifted further into the darkness. I was lost and
alone, sleeping on park benches and sidewalks, wherever I could get any sort of rest. I was sick all the time, inside and out. Going nowhere, I was desperate and turned to crime. It was the only way I knew how to survive, to eat and stay alive. This lifestyle got me locked up in detention centre, more often than I like to admit. But so depressed, scared and alone, I didn’t care. In fact, it felt safe – it was a free meal, a bed, and a roof over my head. It was paradise compared to living on the streets. Every time, I would walk out healthy, drug free and actually awake. But the pain would always come flooding back… I still felt so alone and I didn’t want to feel that misery. So turned back to drugs and crime again. It was a vicious cycle, which seemed like it would never end. Another year of this and I had completely lost hope. But then something magical happened. I was locked up again… But this time, there was light at the end of the tunnel and that light was a youth refuge called The Oasis.
When I would walk the streets, I would always be listening to music. I was never without my hat and my headphones and discman. I loved music, particularly Eminem and Tupac. Their music spoke to me because I could relate to their struggles. It felt like part of me, so I naturally started doing what they did – writing my own raps and singing my own songs… Almost as if they could read our minds, the Oasis set up a music program.
The first day I started that music program, my life changed. After walking through the doors, I sat and for the first time I could put my thoughts to paper. I wrote a verse for a rap song that day and recorded it. When the producer hit play on the track, something inside of me changed. Instantly, I could finally see the light for the first time in years. The energy that was building inside of me was immense. I knew from that point on that I was not destined to live a street life. I went from being a hostile and aggressive person, with no direction to having a dream… As I stood there, I couldn’t stop smiling… it almost brought a tear to my eye. I found my purpose.
That day, I made a vow to myself to be somebody and to give hope to others. ..And since then, my life has changed so much!… In 2017, I toured to different schools to raise awareness about youth homelessness and the power of music, sharing my story and performing to thousands of students across the state.
Thanks so much for reading, and please reach out to me via the contact form on this site if you’d like to be added to my mail list. take it ez.