Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Tough love at Church-run center for Myanmar heroin addicts
Uncompromising methods do not find great support
Picture: Reuters/Damir Sagolj
- Naung Chein for Reuters
- July 12, 2013
A year ago, Wun Naung Lay left his village in northern Myanmar to look for work and found heroin instead. Today, the skeletal 25-year-old is locked up and going cold turkey beneath a filthy blanket in a bamboo cell.
Wun Naung Lay is one of more than 600 young men who have undergone primitive drug rehabilitation at the Youth for Christ Centre, a collection of tin-roofed shacks on a riverbank in Kachin State.
Myanmar is the world's second-largest producer of opium after Afghanistan and use of its derivative, heroin, is widespread. The center's popularity is a testament both to the severity of Myanmar's drug problem and the lack of options for users in a poor country where modern treatment programs are rare.
It offers a 40-day "course" of prayer, Bible study and devotional singing, with football and weightlifting for those strong enough.
Detox begins in the Special Prayer Room, as the bamboo cell is called. New arrivals are locked in around the clock for seven to ten days.
"At first I just wanted to go home, but now I'm feeling a bit better," said Wun Naung Lay, whose forearms are perforated with needle holes.
The Youth for Christ Centre is the brainchild of Ndingi Laja, 45, a former convict and folk singer better known by his stage name Ahja.
A wiry and intense figure, Ahja believes his devotion to God helped him kick heroin while serving a nine-year sentence for drug use. Founded in 2009, a year after his release, the center is an attempt at faith-based abstinence on a larger scale.
His methods find little support among global health experts, who say voluntary drug treatment is not only more humane but also more effective.