Safe-haven risks eviction, need funds

Addicts in recovery celebrate their successes in Cape Town.
Addicts in recovery celebrate their successes in Cape Town.

A safe-haven for drug and alcohol addicts in recovery may lose its space to help rehabilitate Retreat residents at the end of September.

The Freeway Recovery Centre recently celebrated two years of helping addicts recover from their vices by hosting an auction of paintings and sculptures made by the beneficiaries of their recovery programmes, and a raffle to raise funds to run the centre. But celebrations were short-lived after they were only able to raise R33 000 of the near R2 million they would need to purchase the property they use, which is being sold.

Toto Kusensela, marketing and fundraising manager at the centre, is passionate about the work they do and says it is a vital service they provide to the community which suffers from poverty and substance abuse. “If we look at our beneficiaries, we can see that we’ve had a good succession rate. We’ve had 29 to 33 boys that have gone through our programme and 13 are celebrating their one year milestone. Some of them have definitely stumbled, but we’re there for them and they’ve managed to pick themselves back up.”

He says he and the director of the organisation, Gregory Craig, are best equipped to help people suffering from substance abuse, engaging in prostitution, gang violence, theft, house burglaries and robberies because of their own experiences as former addicts.

The non-profit organisation aims to help as many people in the Lavender Hill, Steenberg, Retreat and Seawinds areas by spreading the message of recovery as widely as possible, through multiple initiatives and programmes.

“We feed about a 1 000 people a week through Shoprite’s mobile kitchen. We use it as a tool to attract people, to talk to them about the effects of drugs. We share a good message with them.”

Collaboration aids the operation of this initiative, with the NPO connecting with area-based organisation to determine where to feed people each week. They also host a schools programme where they allow ex-addicts, recovering addicts and even convicted criminals to speak to learners at schools. “Some of them have gone to prison, some have almost died. They tell the kids that they started off just like them. Drugs affects lots of people in the community,” he adds.

Their road to recovery is made up of a 12-step recovery programme that runs from three to six months and equips them with the skills to become contributing members of society once again.

“We want them to get jobs. We don’t want them to sit in limbo once they’re done here,” he says.

The NPO still needs a significant amount of help to keep their property or find a new space and are still appealing to the community donate, enter the raffle for their prizes that are still up for grabs; which includes a R24 000 yacht cruise.

Exhibiting his fighting spirit, Kusensela says: “Part of recovery is not giving up.”

V To assist Freeway Recovery Centre, call 021 712 1794, email toto@freewayrecovery.org or visit the centre at 18 Crest Way, Retreat.

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