A new generation of drug and alcohol abuse fighters has risen in the Vaal. Unemployed township youths are using drama and peer education to appeal directly at grass-roots level to tackle the region’s out-of-control drug and alcohol epidemic.
Vukuzakhe! – Let the youth empower others! – is the call to action of this National Lottery Trust-funded project by SANCA VAAL launched last week in Vanderbijlpark. Vukuzakhe members were professionally trained in drama for three months by Bloemfontein playwright Gertjan Holtzhausen of Lion Hearts Productions.
No-one is more passionate about the persuasion power of drama than Vukuzakhe co-ordinator Mthunzi Mthimkulu (33), who completed an intensive 3-month course with Holtzhausen in Sebokeng starting in December 2014. “We want to give back to our communities through Vukuzakhe,” he said.
About 70% of patients treated by SANCA VAAL are ‘nyaope’ (dagga and heroin) addicts, and of these, 70 % are children and youth, according to Magriet Botha, SANCA VAAL director.
“Live performance has a unique capacity to stimulate and engage the mind, feelings and imaginations as well as to confront in a non-judgmental way,” Botha added. This is echoed by project leader Mthunzi, bringing a message of love and hope to the community. “The training programme was very challenging but brought a massive change to all of us. Those who wander (use alcohol and drugs) are not necessarily lost,” said Mthimkulu.
Vukuzakhe can be booked for performances, which are about 10-30 minutes long. Call (016) 933 2055 or firstname.lastname@example.org.