Eighteen-year-old Wetuh Tang was on the fast track to prison as a young Nelson teen.
After his mother died when he was 14, Wetuh turned to crime.
He would often run away from home – finding solace in the streets. Then, a failed liquor store robbery soon put him in the Youth Court and on the police’s radar.
“I reached a stage where I knew my life could end up going two ways,” Wetuh says. “Either I’d end up in jail or dead.”
However, Wetuh found a third option, employment.
He had always had a passion for cars and dreamed of becoming a mechanic, but believed gang life was a more realistic career for him.
“I thought it was a long shot,” he says. “I had been hanging around the wrong crowd, getting in trouble with police so I didn’t think I’d ever get a proper job. My dad told me I need to get on with my life. I was turning 18 and knew that I needed to make a decision quickly.”
Wetuh distanced himself from the crowds that caused him trouble and set his sights on turning his life around.
With the support of a friend he approached Workbridge and met with an employment consultant. She connected him with owner of Tyres and Moore in Nelson, Adrian Curtis, who was happy to give the young man a chance.
“Wetuh showed a real keenness and motivation to learn. I could see he had significant potential and just needed someone to believe in him,” Adrian says.
He is now working towards becoming a fully qualified mechanic.
“I’ve been in the news for all the wrong reasons and this is my dream job. It has changed my whole life forever, I love it, I love coming here, I’m always glad I came.”
Wetuh still struggles with the death of his mother but smiles knowing she would be looking down on him proudly.
“Every day since she’s passed, I’m always wondering what it would be like if she was here, if things would be different.”
However, he implores young people experiencing grief not to fall into harmful patterns.
“Don’t waste your time in the courts or on the streets when you could be studying or doing something better.”