Tears flowed at a Hout Bay church last week as people who have battled drug dependency and alcoholism spoke of their struggles on the path to sobriety.
Their families also described what it was like being swept up on a hellish ride, watching addiction ravage their loved ones.
The emotional “storytelling” evening was hosted by non-profit Hout Bay Cares at the Anglican Church of
St Peter The Fisherman on Wednesday August 29.
Hout Bay Cares – which is based at the Hangberg clinic – runs addiction recovery programmes. It is open Monday to Friday and there is a 24-hour helpline for those going through the programme.
While a family education and reinforcement session is held every Thursday, the reality is that the centre still struggles for support, according to Hout Bay Cares project manager, Zulfa October.
At the church, she told how important it was for the community to rally behind those battling addict-
“Recovery is possible, but the miracle is in the doing,” she said.
Cathleen Jack spoke of the pain she endured, watching her daughters, Melissa Links and Shireen Cornelius, battled their demons.
“I went through a hard time with my kids. They stole everything from my house. Everything I bought disappeared. I bought fruit and vegetables and toiletries to sell. All gone,” she said.
“After I threw them out, I even called the police to make sure they wouldn’t come into my house. One day, I was in the mall and one of my kids saw me. I immediately called security and told them not to let her near me because she would rob me.”
She said the children she reared were born in the house of God, but the devil had come into their lives.
“It was when I opened my heart and admitted that my kids had a problem that things changed. God came into our lives through Cares. To-
day they are the best kids in the world.”
The evening doubled as a graduation ceremony for Keith Sapto’s daughter, Roxanne, who entered the Hout Bay Cares programme in May.
“My kids were reared in the church. I wanted to be a role model for my family, but my daughter became a drug addict. I blamed myself for what happened,” he said.
“I had Kraaifontein SAPS throw her out of my house. But that was the same day she ended up at Hout Bay Cares. I don’t think words can describe what Zulfa and Florence (Clark) have done for her. They made me understand that it was not the end of the road. I relinquished control to Zulfa to sort out this mess, and now I can embrace my daughter again.”
Speaking through tears, Roxanne said the four months she had been away from her children had been “hell”, but she was eternally grateful for what the organisation had done for her.
“You guys,” she said, addressing both Cares staff and others in the programme, “have become my brothers and sisters, but I am so excited to be going home.”
Naeemah Moses spoke about how drugs had almost cost her her
She said those caught in addiction’s thrall should learn to forgive themselves for their past. “Don’t get stuck on what you did wrong,” she said.
Jurgens Smit, the chief executive of Faces and Voices of Recovery (Favor) South Africa, the mother organisation for Hout Bay Cares, said it was always a struggle to find sponsorship for an “unpopular area”.
“But we always tell them that we can’t change what we do because it’s so important. Our problem is around stigma, and I believe we need to start changing the language.
“We call people alcoholics and drug addicts. But people don’t abuse drugs; they misuse or overuse drugs. I used drugs myself until I went into recovery. I liked drugs. It was a love affair. But we should not label people. That’s for jars and cars. This is the kind of thing that stops people from coming for treatment.”
He said he told those going through the programme that their story ended when they said it end-
“I am the author of my story. You can change your story whenever you want.”