On Friday, 1 December, the MARC Youth Centre had an open day to provide the community with more information as to the work done to help teenagers across Mpumalanga who are addicted to various substances.
MARC Youth Centre is a non-profitable, Christian-based organisation that helps numerous individuals suffering from addiction. The centre consists of an Outpatient Centre, a Centre for Adults as well as the Youth Centre. The MARC Youth Inpatient Centre can accommodate seventeen children between the ages of 12 and 18, for a treatment period of twelve weeks (three months).
The children receive support from numerous individuals, including a social worker, teacher, pastor, professional nurse, house mother and care-officers. The following sessions form part of the daily programme designed to help the children recover: informational sessions, group therapy sessions, individual therapy sessions, work therapy, sport and exercise, drama and talent groups, arts and crafts, recreation and relaxation.
Within the first 24 hours after admission, the nurse sees the child to determine if he/she might need any medication or other medical attention. The Piet Retief Hospital works with the centre and provides the medication needed by the children. Medical staff are on 24-hour standby in case of an emergency.
As many of the children are involved in Satanism when they enter the centre, the pastor offers spiritual support to help the children break free from this. The centre also communicates with the children’s schools to help keep them up to date academically. If children are expelled from school, the centre helps to make an arrangement for the child to return again after rehabilitation.
When necessary, the centre also helps children to attend a new school, away from their old friends and bad influences. For the children, the most difficult part of remaining sober after rehabilitation, is avoiding their old friends. Children who previously attended the centre spoke at the open day and shared their experiences with the attendees.
The children told those currently in the centre that it is important to keep yourself busy with healthy activities once you return home. Starting a small garden or reading novels can help keep your mind off using drugs. It also helps to set a goal towards which you can work. It is crucial to remain motivated if you want to be successful. The centre also has a parent day once a month.
The children are also taken to the local Correctional Services once a month to show them what life in jail is like. The children visit the Mondi Career Science Centre on a monthly basis to help them find an occupation they can follow one day. A dietician at the Piet Retief Hospital helps the centre to provide a healthy and balanced diet for the children. Once the children stop using drugs, their appetite increases and it is easy for them to overeat.
The Youth Centre depend on donations to keep the centre running, as the government grant that they receive is not enough to ensure a healthy environment for the children or to provide all the support they need. Members of the community are asked to become involved with the centre to help them continue doing their good work.
A boxing bag was recently installed for the boys in the centre, but they do not have boxing gloves yet. The employees at the centre would like to ask the support of the community to provide boxing gloves for the use of the boys. For more information on the centre, please contact them at 017 200 0073 or 082 802 1487.