Substance abuse in the Western Cape continues to be a crisis that affects the quality of life of its citizens, especially the youth who, absent of employment, turn to join gangs.
In July of this year, George Herald news reported that there has been a noticeable increase in drug and alcohol abuse, especially among the homeless and a huge concern is learners who experiment with drugs from as young as 12 years.
Thembinkosi Makahwa an activator based in George in the Western Cape has decided to enforce change in his community by being a youth organiser. He serves as a counsellor, health educator and substance supporter based in the community of George, focusing on the victims of substance by working through a youth-led association, SAHARA (Smoking & alcohol harms Alleviation & Rehabilitation Association).
“We are based in clinics. We help community members of George, who are suffering from substance abuse by offering them counselling, support groups, home visit and medication that reduces the use of substances”.
Makahwa and team are also supported by the Department of Health in the Western Cape as well as the South African National Council for Addiction (SANCA).
Makhahwa, started this initiative with the intention to change people’s lives he joined forces with the smoking and alcohol harms alleviation and rehabilitation association, collectively on a mission to ensure that the government provides medication for people who are using substances.
“As a guy who grew up in this advantageous area where substance is the only way people socialise, the youth of that specific area lose hope of being future leaders and they end up being victims of crime and mob justice.”
“I wanted to put a stop to that and tried to ensure that whole community recognised that area and not lose hope of being future leaders.
The project has been successful in that Makahwa and team have managed to assist people dependent on heroin to being heroin-free.
“We have managed to be a part of DOH board members but struggle to ensure access to the hospital’s psychosis ward.”
It takes a village, Makahwa attributes his success to the contributions of the Department of Health, Department of Social Development and Department of Education with whom he believes this would not have been as impactful.
Rally behind SAHARA, through the contribution of funds and resources make this work reach the need in the community of George.
Maka also calls on ACTIVATORS far and wide to support SAHARA programmes by advocating more for healthy living.
Connect with him on Facebook: Thembinkosi Makahwa