Mother of five, 36-year-old Aneeqah Rademeyer was caught in a spiral of drug abuse that caused decay in her life. Today, on the mend, and dedicated to turning her life around, Aneeqah tells us how learning to be a better parent through the Family Affairs intervention has made her journey to recovery that much sweeter.
Living in Manenberg on the Cape Flats, an area notorious for gang violence and drug abuse, Aneeqah has always seen how drugs destroy lives. Unfortunately for the graduated sports’ scientist the lure of drugs and the pressures of work and being a young mother was too much - she succumbed but kept her habit a secret for a decade.
“I felt the drugs helped me to cope. At the beginning no one knew I was using, but after a while it started affecting my everyday life, my work, the way I parent - so things at home got worse. My children were afraid of me, they wanted to leave and my husband left.”
Aneeqah says her wakeup call came with the birth of her youngest child. “The moment that led me to look for help was when I was in labour, alone at home with my two kids - six and two at the time – I was high and drunk. My children were scared of me and wanted to go to their grandmother. That got through to me.”
Aneeqah’s mom was a community worker and knew about the Matrix rehabilitation centre in Manenberg and took Aneeqah there to get help. It was here that Aneeqah managed to break free from the cycle of drug abuse.
The first time Aneeqah heard about Salesian Life Choices was during a group session at the rehabilitation centre. Life Choices runs the Family Affairs intervention that comprises of parental skills workshops, one-on-one sessions with a therapist and job search counsellor. Parents are given tools and educated around the topics of self-motivation, children's developmental stages, communication, risk behaviour and children's rights and responsibilities among other things.
When Anneqah heard about the program she thought, “Let me go see what this “Parenting Skills” was all about. I knew I needed help. I didn’t know how to talk to my kids and I wanted to heal my relationship with them.”
“Before I joined the program I used to slap my kids a lot, but I came to learn to discipline them differently. I’ve learned that the way I treated them was scaring and traumatising them. I thought that is how it should be, that is how I grew up - if you don't hit a child you are not a real mom. Today I know that’s not true. Before I would scream and swear at them when I needed help at home, but now I can calmly ask them to help with the dishes or any other thing.”
“The modules that helped me most were communication and rights and responsibilities. It opened my eyes to the rights of my kids. They have rights and their opinions should be heard, I didn’t know this before.”
Anneeqah says that she is making progress in her life and that changing her behaviour and making better choices has led to a closer relationship with her children. “I am a different mother to my children, I have learnt how to compromise, how to talk and how to listen to them.”
“The biggest change I can see in my children since changing the way I talk to them is that they are not afraid of me anymore, they trust me,” says Aneeqah just as her second youngest Mohammed climbs on her lap.
Things with her husband are also improving. “My relationship with my husband is better than ever; we are closer and will remarry soon. We want to start again by renewing our vows.”
In addition to the parenting workshops, Aneeqah also received job search counselling which help prepare candidates for employment. This is done through assisting parents to develop their CV, improve interview skills and links parents to employment agencies or study opportunities. . This assisted Aneeqah in finding a job in the butchery section at a major retailer, the first step in realizing her dream of opening her own restaurant. “I have always loved cooking and I want the place I open to be a top-notch place.”
“I need this job; I need it as a practice for my sober life. I am excited. This will be the first time I will do something clean as I was always high while I worked. For the first time, my salary is used for the benefit of my family. To other parents I can say that it is never too late for someone to turn their life around for themselves and their children.”