PRETORIA, South Africa, Dec. 16, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Drug-Free World Africa Coordinator Maurithus Meiring was acknowledged as a runner-up at the South African Men of the Year Awards Banquet at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg for his relentless campaign to reach African youth before the pushers do.
Over the past two years, Meiring and his volunteers have distributed 500,000 Drug-Free World booklets, delivered more than 700 lectures and events and built a network of 34 drug education teams in South Africa. They also reach more than 100,000 people with their drug prevention message through social media each month.
Honored by the award, Meiring is well aware that what his group has done so far "is not enough…Much more work needs to be done to reach more people, and to reach African youth faster," he said.
Since beginning their drug prevention campaign, Drug-Free World Africa has seen a 7 – 9 percent drop in drug-related statistics in the South African provinces of Gauteng, Western Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga. And in Gauteng, where Drug-Free World Africa conducted some 50 drug education lectures, training sessions and community events over the past year, the province has seen a 10 percent decrease in drug-related crime and DUI arrests.
"Education is the most effective tool against drugs and substance abuse," says Meiring.
It was Meiring's own experience with drugs and drug education that inspired him to take on this issue. Raised in an Afrikaans middle class family, he turned to drugs and alcohol when his parents divorced. He began with alcohol and was soon taking Ecstasy and cocaine. His 15-year battle with alcohol ended the day a friend introduced him to the Drug-Free World campaign with a copy of The Truth About Drugs booklet that spelled out in detail the long-term effects of drug and alcohol abuse. "I quit from one day to the next," he said.
Meiring, who is also Director of Public Affairs for the Church of Scientology of Pretoria, says the difference between the Drug-Free World campaign and other programs is "it does not moralize or preach—it simply presents the cold, hard facts."
The Drug-Free World Africa team has achieved some impressive results from its effort. Meiring describes their work with Bisho High School in South Africa's Eastern Cape Province where 42 percent of the students were on illicit drugs when they began their campaign—drugs such as heroin, the deadly new cocktail known as "nyaope," and crystal methamphetamine (known locally as "tik"). "Within a year, the drug use in the school had fallen to 5 percent—and by the second year it was completely drug-free," Meiring says.
At the South African Men of the Year Awards, Meiring spoke on behalf of all Drug-Free World Africa volunteers and the many groups and organizations with whom they work, promising to use this honor to accelerate the momentum of his crusade to spread the truth about drugs throughout South Africa and the African continent as a whole.
The South African Men of the Year Awards was established to celebrate South African men as part of a drive to create "an environment that is conducive to the development, recognition, talent and inspiration of modern South African men making a difference in their communities," giving them greater opportunity "to continue their good work while challenging others to follow suit."
The Scientology religion was founded by author and philosopher L. Ron Hubbard. The first Church of Scientology was formed in Los Angeles in 1954 and the religion has expanded to more than 11,000 Churches, Missions and affiliated groups, with millions of members in 167 countries.
SOURCE Maurithus Meiring