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Covid 19 Relief efforts in action

Rata assisting in Covid-19 Relief Efforts at El Shaddai Church

El Shaddai Church became the safe haven for 21 drug addicts during lockdown. 

Before the lockdown the Church provided for the needy by way of a daily soup kitchen, run by volunteers. 

The Department of Health is also involved at the Church by sponsoring medicine to help the drug abusers cope with their withdrawal symptoms.

The Department of Social Development became involved to assist with material needs and psychosocial support.

The Department of Social Development invited Rata Social Services and two other NGO’s to assist with the relief efforts at the Church.  Food parcels, supplied by the Department of Social Development, were distributed and the clients were interviewed.

The following findings were made after the interviews were conducted:

  • They all acknowledged that they are substance abusers and would all like to attend rehabilitation centres and get their lives back on track;
  • They would all like to be employed and earn a living in a honest way;
  • Some are skilled and would like to pursue a career with the skills they have, others would like to receive skills development training;
  • Some have been taking drugs for a long time and are very grateful that lockdown has forced them out of the evil environment of drug abuse and has given them hope for the future;
  • Most spoke about traumatic childhoods, having to fend for themselves, often abused by parents or other people, living without the guidance, support and supervision of parents and being accepted by gangs that are either drug dealers of drug abusers;
  • Their lives revolved around feeding their habit, from the moment they wake up in the morning till they go to sleep at night;
  • They operate in gangs, just like the gangs found in prisons, with numbers tattooed on their forearms to indicate which gang they belong to and which method they use to obtain items, for instance petty theft without harming anybody or steal handbags or cars;
  • Some gangs would even go as far as violence and killing others if necessary;
  • They do beg for food, but will instead use the money to buy drugs;
  • The gangs have a certain pecking order and the more successful one are the higher you move up in the pecking order and the more authority and power you gain;
  • Religion doesn’t play a role in the life of a substance abuser but they apparently practice Christianity at El Shaddai Church.
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René Erasmus
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