Drug mer­chant turned art teacher gives back

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - TAMRYN CHRIS­TIANS

HE SOLD drugs to young kids and spent time in prison be­cause of it. Now Mark Jeneker, from Mitchells Plain in Cape Town, is teach­ing chil­dren art.

Jeneker, 51, has been teach­ing young chil­dren how to paint at the Town Cen­tre Li­brary in Mitchells Plain.

He is also a vol­un­teer art teacher at Yel­low­wood Pri­mary School.

“I was a drug mer­chant for 20 years, and af­ter the mur­der of my two sons, I told my­self that I needed to change.”

Not be­ing able to pay for the fu­neral of one of his sons, he de­cided to ap­proach Oval North Se­condary School and Lit­tle­wood Pri­mary School in Bea­con Val­ley.

There he sold art to raise funds for the fu­neral and man­aged to make more than R5000.

“That’s where it all started. I thought to my­self that if I can ruin these chil­dren’s lives by sell­ing drugs to them, I can make a dif­fer­ence by do­ing some­thing pos­i­tive.”

This year will be the fifth year that Jeneker is ac­tively in­volved in serv­ing his com­mu­nity. He spe­cialises in ab­stract art and cre­at­ing 3D sculp­tures from re­cy­clable ma­te­rial. In 2015, Jeneker won R25 000 for his school in a com­pe­ti­tion.

He has also won nu­mer­ous awards for the self­less com­mit­ment he has made to the com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing be­ing Lead SA hero in Au­gust 2016.

The prin­ci­pal of Yel­low­wood Pri­mary, Dono­van Senosi, said: “Jeneker has come in as a saviour. Since his ar­rival, all the kids talk about is art.”

In Fe­bru­ary last year, Jeneker’s class was set alight by two pupils, but he per­sisted by hav­ing classes in the quad­ran­gle.

The classes he of­fers at Yel­low­wood Pri­mary cost a mere R5 per child. “I am not do­ing this for the money, and some chil­dren can’t even af­ford to pay R5. I owe this to them.”

Senosi ap­proached Jeneker about two years ago to teach art at his school. “I am a firm be­liever in sec­ond chances and as you can see to­day, Jeneker is an ex­am­ple of what sec­ond chances can do.”

The art teacher can do much more with help from the com­mu­nity. He isn’t ask­ing for money or recog­ni­tion. All he wants to do is give back.

Jeneker is ap­peal­ing to po­ten­tial spon­sors to join and share his vi­sion in cre­at­ing a bet­ter life for the youth through art.

GIV­ING BACK: Former drug dealer Mark Jeneker.

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