Drug Rehab Needs Funds to Stay Open
In the heart of Observatory, cheek by jowl with narcotics dealers, is a drug rehabilitation centre that has been helping addicts kick their habits for 10 years. But a lack of funding could mean that Beth Rapha, meaning House of Mercy in Hebrew, will be forced to close its doors.
Established in 2000, Beth Rapha Drug Rehabilitation Centre is a non-profit, Christian-based centre for men struggling to overcome drug addiction. The house is run by former clients turned peer counsellors. Their programme is based on Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous.
The halfway house is a mere 30-second walk from the nearest drug merchants, unlike many rehabilitation centres which operate in areas far from city streets.
With the history of drug merchants operating in the area, Beth Rapha is a beacon of hope. It has also helped make Observatory a safer place by helping addicts who might otherwise have robbed people for their next fix. Close to 300 men have been through their doors in the past decade. One of them is drug peer counsellor Craig Duke, who describes himself as a former career criminal and hardened drug addict.
He said he was rescued and taken in, sick and destitute, by the rehabilitation centre. After a near fatal overdose, his wife left him, taking their children with her. He put eight Wellcanol tablets, schedule-six prescription painkillers, in a syringe and shot up. He was left down and out on the streets.
"I so badly wanted to come right but I had nowhere to go. The centre saved my life. It has given me the opportunity to make something of my life and be a productive member of society again."
Now, eight years later, he runs his own company, Stromboli Catering. He sometimes employs recovering drug addicts from the centre.
Duke said the centre needs about R25 000 to R30 000 a month to operate. Previously they had received funding from the Lotto, Community Chest and from donations. While the Lotto has indicated that it would give the rehab funds, this money usually takes 12 to 18 months to come through.
Duke said to keep their doors open they had even started charging the men who came to them for help between R2 500 and R5 000. "But this is not ideal because many are homeless and really down and out when they turn to the centre for help."
They had the capacity to house 14 people at a time and currently have six men living there. "But if we run out of funds these guys will be forced back on the street and risk turning back to drugs." The rehab's director, Heine Preuss, said Cape Town, like many other cities, was gripped by a drug culture.
But men at the centre had the opportunity to live there for between two and nine months and were able to deal with the issues and struggles in their lives which had driven them to seek refuge in substance abuse.
The centre had a holistic approach to rehabilitation and looked at the links between the spiritual, emotional, psychological, social and physical aspects of these men and how they all tie together.
"The essence of Beth Rapha Drug Rehabilitation Centre is to provide a safe environment where these men can, from a place of utter hopelessness and desperation in their lives, restore their dignity, regain their confidence and sense of purpose and be integrated back into society as meaningful, whole and valuable individuals.
"Substance abuse is a growing concern to an alarming amount of families in Cape Town and there is an urgent need for centres like Beth Rapha to provide a lifeline for those whose family members have been exposed to its vices."
Treasurer Bruce Maxwell said if they could get 10 companies to donate R10 000 each for periods of six months until the Lotto money came in, that would be ideal. This week Western Cape Premier Helen Zille announced an ambitious new anti-drug and alcohol plan, including random tests at schools, closing down the city's 3 0000 illegal shebeens and training more social workers.
According to drug-related crime statistics, the province has some of the highest drug and alcohol abuse rates in the country. A total of 98 percent of the tik addicts in the country seeking treatment come from this province.
Zille said there would be no increase in the budget dealing with substance abuse but there were plans to recruit another 800 social workers, review treatment services provided by NGOs and move funds from ineffectual initiatives to those that were effective