Health programme focuses on youth

Yogis from AhimSA shared muscle relaxation techniques with attendees.

Your health is your wealth. This according to the Hout Bay library staff, who hosted a Department of Social Development transversal programme on Thursday April 25, with the focus on “Healthy living for youths”.

The event, aimed at Hout Bay residents aged 18 to 35, focused on alternative and general physical and mental health practices, and living a balanced lifestyle. The event attracted approximately 20 people, who enjoyed yoga practices and healing massages.

The library hosted this programmefree, in collaboration with other City departments.

This event featured talks from the Hout Bay clinic, Hout Bay police, Community Awareness Rehabilitation Education Support Services (CARES), and Healing Hands.

Florence Clark, a therapist at the outpatient rehabilitation centre CARES, explained the importance of the community’s role in a patient’s rehabilitation. CARES, a Department of Social Development programme, is based at the Hangberg clinic.

“Often the community doesn’t understand how rehabilitation works, especially when it comes to outpatient care. Recovering addicts in outpatient care need a lot of support. People shouldn’t break them down or judge them because it can cause that person to give up and return to using drugs,” said Ms Clark, adding that at CARES, family education is key.

“We provide confidential care with zero judgement to our patients, and we also teach their families about the stages of recovery so they can assist the patients. Results show that when people support each other, it makes it easier for the patients to kick drugs to the curb.

“During recovery, the first withdrawal stages are being moody and depressed.Hereaftercomesthe ‘honeymoon phase’, this is when everything seems well and the patient feels confident and unstoppable, but after this comes the ‘war stage’,” she said.

“During the war stage, patients become angry and depressed again. This is usually when patients’ families start accusing them of using drugs again. Many patients need antidepressants during the war stage, but they also need family and community support to help them stay clean.

“The last phase is the re-adjustment stage. Here we help the patients re-adjust to life in a sober manner, and to reconnect with people in a sober way – including having to repair damaged relationships with family, friends, and employers,” she said.

Ms Clark, who is a previous drug addict, made a conscious choice and reached out to CARES for support – she’s been sober for eight years. She says without support from others, she would’ve lost everything. She emphasised keeping a community sober is “everyone’s job”.

“Since we’re an outpatient rehab facility, we only work with the patients from 10am to 2pm. We do yoga and mindfulness practices, but it’s mostly a self-management rehabilitation programme.

“We start the patient on a four- to six-month intensive programme, followed by aftercare for up to two years, including ongoing meetings with Narcotics and Alcoholics Anonymous. We also assist HIV-positive people in getting treatment, since drugs and mindless sex often go hand in hand,” she said.

Sister Esther Carolus from the Hout Bay clinic encouraged attendees to book healthcare appointments and screenings ahead of time.

“The clinic isn’t only there for when you’re ill. We want everyone to come for screenings, get tested, and get immunised to prevent getting sick. Our clinic encourages pregnant women to book their appointments in advance, and to join in prenatal yoga classes, which can make giving birth easier.

“We also encourage mothers to book appointments to vaccinate their children, especially against tuberculosis (TB) and for girls, human papillomavirus (HPV). Our clinic focuses on family planning and reproductive health. Women can get Pap smears to screen for cervical cancer, and get breast examinations – we also teach women how to examine themselves.”

Sister Carolus urged community members to get tested for HIV/AIds and TB, and said TB can spread like wildfire in densely populated areas such as Imizamo Yethu.

“Last year our clinic treated 400 TB patients, this year we’ve already had 80 cases of patients infected with TB. Places like Imizamo Yethu is small, but many live there – it’s the perfect breeding ground for TB. If you don’t want to get tested, that is your choice, but you could be infecting your entire family if you don’t seek treatment.

“Children and the elderly are the most susceptible to contracting TB. If you have symptoms such as coughing, excessive sweating, or coughing up blood, please come to the clinic for testing and treatment. All our patients are treated confidentially for those who are scared of being stigmatised,” she said.

Hout Bay police’s Warrant Officer Tania Lesch addressed the group on the topic of domestic violence.

“Domestic violence affect both men and women. If you are being abused at home, you have options to get help. Reach out to the police – you can open a criminal case, or get a protection order from Wynberg court. The police have a responsibility to keep you safe, they cannot refuse to help you. If you feel uncomfortable speaking to a certain officer, ask for a different officer until someone helps you.”

Other presenters at the transversal programme gathering were Ahim’ SA Yoga and Healing Hands.

Ahim’SA promotes non-violence and peace through yoga. They also offer free classes at the Imizamo Yethu Community Centre, on Tuesday mornings, from 10am to 11am for the elderly, and prenatal yoga classes on Thursday, from 8am to noon, at the Hout Bay clinic.

Their regular free-for-all sessions are held at the Hout Bay library, on Wednesdays, from 8.30am, and on Saturdays, at 8am.

Victoria Fearon, one of Ahim’ SA‘s senior teachers, shared breathing and alternative techniques to keep your cool in stressful situations. Ms Fearon told attendees “yoga isn’t about religion, it’s about being the best person you can be”.

Ms Fearon demonstrated relaxation techniques and positive affirmations with a group.

Rebecca Hahlani, a travelling masseuse with her own business, Healing Hands, treated attendees to massages, and told the Sentinel News that massage can act as an alternative to mainstream healthcare. “Many times when you have a headache or migraine, it’s because your blood isn’t circulating normally, or you have a pinched spinal cord. Sometimes you don’t need aspirin, you just need a massage.”

Noluvuyo Sobekwa, 32, from
IY, who attended the morning’s activities, said it was marvellous.

“The massage and yoga was relaxing and healing. This was my first time getting a massage, and I’d definitely go again if I could. I used to suffer from depression, and things like yoga
and massages can definitely help you cope better.

”Stewart Cloete from Hangberg had a big smile on his face after his massage, and said he “needed the massage and really enjoyed the yoga”.