Freeway Ministries rehabilitation centre faces an uncertain reality at the end of this month, should they fail to find new premises to home the recovering addicts in their programmes currently.
The centre provides homes, meals and gym facilities for rehabilitating addicts who reside at the premises for the full six-month duration of their treatment, a programme which also takes place at the house on Joe Marks Boulevard in Retreat.
“Our programme competes with those that charge R60 000 to R100 000. We want to give people a good programme. Just because we are a non-profit, doesn’t mean we want to give people a second class living. We do a very good programme here,” says head of marketing and fundraising at the centre, Toto Jordan, who is also a recovered addict.
The non-profit organisation (NPO) allegedly entered into a lease agreement with the owner of the house, Mervyn Philander, with the intention to buy the house and continue the programmes where they rehabilitate addicts from many parts of the world, and especially those suffering dire circumstances in Retreat and Lavender Hill.
“Many of these men come from the streets; some have come straight from jail into the programme. The drug problem is the issue here and if the addicts stop buying from these guys, hopefully they will go out of business and just stop selling.
“We’re hoping we can just help fight the problem,” he says.
The NPO have refurbished the property they are currently using since they moved in, in 2017, but failing to raise the stipulated R1,3 million for purchase, have forfeited the money they put into the property.
“We got in donations of about R227 000, some of which we put in to renovate the place and make it fit for human occupation.” The agreement states that all modifications made at the cost of the tenant will not be reimbursed by the owner who says, as a pensioner, he cannot afford to reimburse the NPO.
“This has left us between a rock and a hard place now – we don’t know what to do. We’ve got boys here in the middle of their six-month programme and we can’t shut down while we do what we need to do,” says Jordan.
He says they are hopeful that a kind citizen will have a space available at low cost for the centre to use for its programme, as they rely largely on donations to operate.
“We have 19 guys who have finished the programme, and nine of them have celebrated one year clean. We can’t just put our guys in treatment back on the streets where they’re exposed to drugs every day,” he says.
As part of the programme, the recovering addicts assist with a soup kitchen, supported by Shoprite, where they feed people in Lavender Hill, Retreat and wherever they find the need, two or three times a week.
The centre was invited by a Century City-based company to talk about addiction last week, as part of their Mental Health Awareness Month activities this October.
They hope to continue their programmes and assist substance addicts.
Philander told People’s Post in a telephonic interview that he did not want to comment further on the matter between himself and the NPO.