Former Buffalo Flats drug addict on mission to make good

Shaun Thompson’s support groups lend helping hand

Shaun Thompson of Vergenoeg who is in a process of turning a dumpsite into a lush garden that will beautify and help kids in the neighbourhood with the space to play.
Shaun Thompson of Vergenoeg who is in a process of turning a dumpsite into a lush garden that will beautify and help kids in the neighbourhood with the space to play.
Image: MICHAEL PINYANA

Shaun Thompson realised in 2013 that drugs were destroying him and his family.

Now a recovering drug addict, Thompson, born and raised in Buffalo Flats, said he put much thought into how he would manage his recovery, and how to go back to his community.

“There was no help available and nowhere to go for support in the area. Our families never really understood addiction.

"That is where I thought of starting support groups in the Buffalo Flats area.

“The support group started running in 2014, after getting help from the local branch of the SA National Council on Alcoholism in Southernwoood.”

Thompson recently started a non-profit group, Restoration Community Movement, which helps recovering addicts to find a positive reference point and support.

“We have a successful feeding scheme that takes place every second Wednesday in Egoli.

“It has been running successfully since the start of 2020.

“This programme is headed by Markum Lewis and his wife, Carmen.

“We have been very blessed to have secured donors for most of our feeding needs. Every second week we feed close to 200 people.”

He said the passion that motivated the organisation had been gained from life's hard lessons.

We see the pain and suffering daily and would like a chance to expand and grow this fellowship to reach more people in our community

“We see the pain and suffering daily and would like a chance to expand and grow this fellowship to reach more people in our community.

“The support group has helped many addicts, be it just for attending meetings daily at the various venues as well as assisting families with getting their loved ones into rehab centres.”

As part of giving back, the group does clean-ups and attends to calls from members of the community for assistance.

“With assistance from BCM we managed to clean up dumping spots in the Vergenoeg area and received donations of trees and plants and have since planted these at the spots that were cleaned up.

“We aim to assist with whatever we can where we can and with the help of my team we have been very successful in everything that we have taken on,” said Thompson.

His nominator, Lameez Kariem, said: “Coming from a background of being a recovering drug addict, helping other addicts still suffering is a great part of his recovery.

“His support group was one of the first in the Buffalo Flats area and since then three other support groups have been established."

Kariem said Thompson often joined up with other organisations to assist with outreach programmes and feeding schemes in the community.

“With the passion he has for helping others comes the need to uplift the rest of the community and that is when he started with the feeding projects and also cleaning up litter in the area,” Kariem said.

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