“The effect of drug and alcohol abuse has a vast negative impact not only to those using it, [but also] to [the people] close them,” says Salter, a qualified social worker.
The self-funded centre, established in 2015 in Westernburg outside Polokwane, looks after 50 vulnerable children from impoverished families, including those who suffered brain damaged due to their mothers abusing drugs and alcohol during their pregnancies.
“The centre was established four years ago. I fund it myself with the aim to assist children who are affected [because of] the scourge of alcohol and drug abuse in parents. We offer educational and health assistance.
“We [teach them to] read and write. We give educational prevention programmes so that they won’t start using drugs themselves.”
“Our biggest challenges right now in our area are poverty and access to education for these children with special needs. Some are in need of special care and they can’t go to ordinary schools in the area,” says Salter.
She says due to lack of special schools, many children are placed in schools that don’t suit their needs.
“They are forced to attend nearby schools and they aren’t coping,” she says. “There is only one school to assist them and that is in town.” She says they take care of at least 50 children and the centre is based in her home.
“I’m trying to acquire land. I hope the government will offer me land and hopefully I’ll get funding somewhere to build a proper facility for these children,” she adds.
It’s a war, not a battle
Salter, who also serves on the Central Drug Authority of South Africa, says the war against drugs and substance abuse could be won if government changed its approach. “We can fight alcohol and drug abuse through educational programmes, to teach children in primary school… how dangerous drugs are.”
“Talking about substance abuse only during campaigns should come to an end. It’s expensive and useless. They should use that money to fund educational drug programmes,” she says.
– Health-e News
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