Some Madiba magic helps addicts feel special for a day
NYAOPE users in Mamelodi were once again in the spotlight – but this time for a different reason.
Yesterday, they were pampered by the Concerned Tshwane Liquor Traders Association as part of Mandela Day, and the pampering started with breakfast which included bread, jam, peanut butter and juice.
About 150 drug users huddled around a tent at Denneboom station to fill their stomachs.
For lunch, they were served grilled chicken, steak and pap.
For dessert, they were given a pick of three items of clothing from a donation bay by locals, which included winter jackets, jeans, shoes, belts and hats.
The group were entertainment by a choir, which kept them mesmerised with hymns.
The president of the association, Oupa Mthombeni, said that in commemorating Mandela Day, the organisation wanted to do things differently, and open their hearts to drug addicts because they often felt isolated from the community.
“We thought maybe we should try a different approach and make them see the light again – feed them and show them love. Who knows, maybe they might kick the habit,” he said.
Mthombeni said the use of nyaope in Mamelodi had spiralled out of control, and a lot needed to be done to curb the scourge.
He said introducing the concept of nutrition into an addiction treatment programme was not an easy task.
Mthombeni said addicts in early recovery were not ready for healthy behaviour change as most were trying to get past the immediate crisis of addiction and life adjustments of abstinence. “In fact, sobriety can magnify pre-existing dysfunctional eating behaviour. Many addicts began using drugs and alcohol in their early teens and never developed a healthy relationship to food,” he said.
Mthombeni spent his afternoon with young people who were fighting substance abuse.
Social workers affiliated to rehab centres were also present to assist addicts in their bid to kick their habits.
Mthombeni encouraged the youth to stop doing drugs as they destroyed their lives and futures.
“We need to assist young people to kick the habit (of drugs). It’s a devastating habit.”
He said young people should not use the excuse of having a difficult childhood as a reason to do drugs.
One of the drug users, who preferred to remain anonymous, said he first learnt about nyaope last year in prison but was not interested.
He said he went through a rough patch after his release, which led him to use nyaope as an escape. He wanted to quit drugs, but the stomach cramps were just too unbearable.
“Be that as it may, we thank Bra Oupa for thinking of us. Mandela Day is dedicated to giving back to those less fortunate and isolated.”
Another addict said: “He has made us feel special.”
Concerned Tshwane Liquor Traders Association president Oupa Mthombeni with Thapelo Sehlapelo and Boitumelo Rankapole.