Family members of substance abusers will now have a support group to turn to when they need help handling the challenges of living with a drug addict.
On Wednesday June 20, Ward 49 councillor Rashid Adams launched the Marchelino Community Support Group, named in honour of Marchelino Hendricks, who had struggled with drug abuse for many years and had worked with the ward councillor on plans to start a support group.
His sister, Dene Hendricks said he had tried to overcome his addiction but relapsed. Marchelino did not get to see the project being launched as he was murdered on Wednesday May 30.
Mr Adams said the programme would include 20 community workers in Athlone who would run support groups in their areas where families of substance abusers could share their grievances.
NGOs and NPOs would also be present at these meetings to offer the families advice. Mr Adams said the meetings would hopefully take place once a week.
Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille, who attended the launch, said that it was not easy being the parent of a drug addict. “(Parents) often say that they haven’t raised their children in that way and they often blame themselves. But parents are also the ones who sometimes ignore the problem when they notice the signs – until it is too late,” she said.
She also said focus is largely placed on helping the addict but not to much on assisting the affected families.
“It is important that we work together to protect our children. We need to help them. Life is all about choices and we need to help our kids to make the correct ones. Many of our youth have the potential to be great but they just need a push in the right direction,” she said.
Ms De Lille added that issues such as drug abuse, woman abuse, and domestic violence, were social ills which affected all communities.
“Together we need to find solutions. We need to constantly tell our children that we love them – every day. Remind them.
“We need to restore the fabric of our society. Drug abuse remains high and we can continue to blame everyone but there must be something wrong with us if we know about all the merchants in the streets destroying our children and doing nothing about it,” she said.
She encouraged residents to report it unanimously, and kill the drug market by not buying from merchants.
“Don’t buy stolen goods. As long as you buy you are creating a market for stolen goods. Speak up and save our kids, but the role and responsibility is with the parents first. You are responsible for your children until they reach 18,” she said.
To find out more about the programme, call 021 820 2002.