WHAT started out as a Uitenhage’s student’s project to obtain her honours degree in social work turned out to be a tool to help fight drug abuse in schools in her community.
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University student Dorothea van Tonder recruited recovering drug addicts from the Shepherd’s Field Rehabilitation Centre in St Albans and trained them to mentor the youth to say no to drugs.
Her project, which started this year, helps pupils from her alma mater, Gamble Street High School, as well as surrounding schools and centres for children be becoming involved with drugs.
“Studies show that if you step in at the age of 14, there is a good chance that you can stop kids’ drug habits,” Van Tonder said.
“I’ve been mentoring this group of guys and they are an intelligent, inspiring bunch who have so much to give. The idea is to have kids that are hooked on drugs mentored by people who have walked the path and lost everything.”
Hoping to make a difference, recovering addict Neil Vonallemann, 32, took up the challenge.
“If I was mentored by someone like myself whose seen it all through a life of drugs, my life would have turned out differently. It took me 13 rehabs and a hell of a lot of mistakes and pain to come clean,” he said.
“Our hearts are set on showing the youth who experiment the truth about drugs, but at the same time, establish friendships with them to help them through when it gets tough,” he said.
Paul Daniels, 31, of Gelvandale,hopes to expose children to the threat of tik.
Van Tonder said: “To me, it’s a win-win situation.” – Alvené du Plessis