Khaleeqa Sadiika was fed up. She had spent the past seven years on the street as a homeless, drug-addicted prostitute, losing everything that was important in her life: her car, her home, her career. After passing the exam to become a Columbus police officer and waiting for a job to open up in the division, Sadiika’s then-boyfriend introduced her to crack cocaine. “Hitting it one time cost me seven years,” she said.
But Sadiika knew she had more to offer the world, and she turned to God for guidance in 2012.
“I was tired of jumping in cars,” Sadiika recalled. “I was tired of living in abandoned houses and garages. I was tired of having to do sexual favors for ordinary things like shelter and food.”
“I was just sick and tired of being sick and tired, so one day I threw my apparatus—which for me was a crack pipe—in the bushes and looked to the heavens and asked God to give me a purpose.”
That purpose was Malachi.
Sadiika discovered she was pregnant on Aug. 16, 2012. Today, the Linden resident is raising her 6-year-old son and has been clean and sober since discovering she was carrying Malachi. She’s even started her own nonprofit, Life Beyond Streets, which helps lost souls, just like she was helped in her time of need.
“Khaleeqa is passionate about giving back to people who are in the same situation as she was,” said Donna Poppendieck, a substance-abuse counselor who is on the board of directors for Life Beyond the Streets. “She is very adaptive and has taken on such a daunting task. She is really determined to make it a success.”
The seeds of Life Beyond the Streets were sowed in 2014, but the organization did not receive nonprofit status until 2015.
Poppendieck said Sadiika has opened one sober house and is looking to open more. “She is also really good at getting in-kind donations and getting people to donate time and other things,” Poppendieck said. “She is doing what she can to set her ladies up so they can find success.”
Sadiika also leads street ministries on Saturday afternoons, going to parts of Columbus frequented by prostitutes and addicts. At those informal get-togethers, she distributes much-needed supplies.
“We pass out hygiene love bags, which include underwear, socks, [feminine hygiene] pads, tampons, washcloths, soap, condoms, purses, wigs or whatever we can to make the ladies feel good about themselves and help their self-esteem,” said Sadiika, who is a licensed, state-tested nursing assistant and a certified peer-recovery specialist with the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
“We want them to know they have worth, and we can plant the seeds of hope for recovery,” she said.
Sadiika said she has helped more than 50 clients in need. Unfortunately, not all are receptive to the lifeline. “I wish people would look at them as victims and not as criminals,” she said. “It’s the guilt and shame and lack of hope and trauma that they have been through that causes them to do what they do.”
“Some people don’t want the help because they aren’t ready,” she continues. “The key to recovery is wanting it, but you have to want it. If you don’t want it, don’t waste my time. I have people out there who want it, who are begging for it. They call me every day, and I’m here for them.”