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LEADING byEXAMPLE Author: Daleen Schoeman Born and bred in the Northwest of South Africa in a small town community, I was just an ordinary single child with plenty of love to go around - Daleen is the name. When meeting the love of my life while only in high school, I knew from the get-go that we would have no ordinary life. After studying Travel and Tourism after school, Kobus and myself travelled the world, and our lives became rich with culture and life stories. From collecting pheasant eggs, to being childhood educators, working as estate agents and even joining the corporate world, we worked our way through these jobs. We often joke that all our experience led us to this one point. The point where everything started intertwining. After a few learning curves, and shortly after the Concourt ruling, Die Boomhuis, situated at 60 Baron Van Rheede, Oudtshoorn, came into existence. After decriminalisation in 2018, we knew that cannabis could be a spearhead for many things - from employment opportunities to land reparation and restoration, we knew that a place would be needed for the cannabis community to gather and to practice what they preach. That is how Die Boomhuis came to be. We had much help from the community and friends and family who offered us support. The social club structure offers their members many benefits, not necessarily just a place where they can gather to consume cannabis, but it is also a place of support, understanding and no judgement. It’s where cultures fuse and people can be comfortable to be exactly who they are.
The journey so far has been absolutely amazing. Not without troubles and turmoil. We’ve had a few incidents, but with the support of the community, we were able to work through things surprisingly smoothly. The club journey has been amazing. I’ve seen hermits come out of their caves. Big egos being humbled. One of the benefits of the club that I’ve particularly noticed, is that it offers people coming off chronic medication a place to openly discuss their treatment and decide for themselves on the self-medication route they’d like to follow. The demographics in Oudtshoorn are quite astonishing. It’s not a big town but it is very diverse. We have members of all age groups and cultures come in, have a good time and just connect with each other. People giving each other advice. There’s a lovely story of an older Afrikaans ‘Tannie’ who walked into the club where a few Rastafari members were standing discussing some things with me. She asked me a few questions, and after a bit of discussion, it was beautiful to see the Rasta members giving her advice and talking to her as if she was their own Ouma.
The Oudtshoorn community’s reaction to Die Boomhuis has been amazing. We’ve been welcomed open-armed, in such a heart-warming way. Obviously, just like in any community, not everyone will always agree with what you do, but the stigma surrounding cannabis is definitely weakening. Die Boomhuis is also very involved in community work. We are especially involved in assisting Die Oratorium van St. Filip Neri, our local church, with the development of a vegetable garden for their soup kitchen, as well as helping with groceries and assistance when possible. We are also currently working with the Oudtshoorn SAPS in creating a drug awareness and youth education campaign which we’ll be rolling out to rural primary schools in the area in October. This is especially important after the most recent High Court ruling, which decriminalised the possession of cannabis by a minor. Now more than ever, it is vital that youngsters are given the correct information on cannabis use. We do not want children under the age of 18 whose brains are still developing, to consume THC.
An interesting story involving the SAPS in Oudtshoorn. I had some cannabis plants stolen out of the garden. We had a suspicion on who had stolen them. The police came to do regular patrols. After the third week, they walked into Die Boomhuis and everyone in the club just scrambled into the corners and under desks. They walked up to me and simply said, “Mam, you need to work on better security. I think your fences are too low.” Working with the SAPS in Oudtshoorn has been a very pleasant journey. Opening a cannabis social club has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life. Also, one of the most challenging. But nothing that is worth it, is easy. Luckily in a community like ours, it has been a breeze most of the time. I think the turmoil lies within myself, but that is a personal journey. It is something that I hope everyone reading this article will do - to embrace their own personal journey with life, with community and upliftment, with self-care and with plants in general, not necessarily only cannabis. Eat your veggies. Pick that rose and smell it. And… puff puff pass. Happy Dayz.