New Building Highlights Expanding Church Drug Treatment Service
August 15 2006
The Church drug rehabilitation center that pioneered drug-addiction treatment in Bangladesh marked its 18th anniversary by completing construction of a new building to better serve its patients.
On Aug. 11, Archbishop Paulinus Costa of Dhaka inaugurated the new building at Savar, 30 kilometers northwest of Dhaka, and explained how it came to be.
"The new building of Bangladesh Rehabilitation and Assistance Center for Addicts (BARACA) is built, and its facilities have been increased through funding by the German government and the cooperation of Caritas Germany and Caritas Bangladesh," he said during the inauguration ceremony. "Therefore, BARACA moves forward one step to achieve its goal of serving more patients."
About 600 recovered and recovering addicts joined bishops, Religious, and local government and social leaders for the program at BARACA´s premises.
The new 1,115-square-meter one-story building can serve 70-80 recovering addicts, significantly more than BARACA´s previous maximum of 50. The new facility also provides living quarters and more classrooms.
On that "happy day for BARACA," Archbishop Costa, president of Catholic Bishops´ Conference of Bangladesh, noted that "the drug addiction problem leads the country´s youth towards disaster," with negative consequences for not just their families, but for society and the state as well.
Archbishop Paul Tschang In-Nam, apostolic nuncio to Bangladesh, told the gathering, "I understand BARACA is the first organization in Bangladesh to serve victims of drug addiction. I extend my gratitude and appreciation for the valuable services it has been rendering since its foundation in 1988."
Archbishop In-Nam, chief guest at the ceremony, also said the Church has always shown keen interest in afflicted, neglected and deprived people. "I am particularly impressed that the Church in Bangladesh has fully cooperated with the project since the beginning through its Religious and lay collaborators. The Church´s intervention was very timely," the nuncio added.
Benedict Alo D´Rozario, executive director of Caritas Bangladesh, the social and humanitarian development wing of Bangladesh´s bishops, also attended the ceremony as a special guest. "Drug addiction is not a natural disaster, it is a socially created problem," he told the gathering. "The time has come to think again and find out its main source." He also explained that BARACA had to overcome many barriers during the last 18 years to strengthen its base.
Holy Cross Brother Robi T. Purification, BARACA´s acting director, thanked all "predecessors, managing committee members, different organizations, local people, staff members, former and present clients and government officials for their support and cooperation," and said he hopes such support will continue.
The 12-step Narcotics Anonymous treatment program that BARACA uses involves regular joint meetings of cured and recovering addicts to share their sufferings, frustrations, hope and joys. According to Zakiul Alam Milton, a BARACA educator, the meetings try to develop personal stability and send the message of cure to others.
The types of treatment through which the addicts go during their four-month, live-in rehabilitation are varied -- personal counseling, family counseling, group therapy, educational classes, occupational therapy, relaxation therapy, recreational therapy, family anonymous meetings, home visits, family visits, self-help support groups, follow-up and aftercare. After successfully completing the rehabilitation course, "graduates" strive to maintain "clean birthdays," anniversaries marking each year they continue to be drug-free.
Other BARACA activities include an awareness program, networking among drug-addict centers, running a drop-in-center in Dhaka, vocational training and activities designed to prevent the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that leads to the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), as well as sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and sexually transmitted infections (STI).
The anniversary´s souvenir program included the personal account of an anonymous rehabilitated man who settled down after graduating from BARACA. He wrote that his poor relationship with his stepmother prompted him to leave home as a child and look for work. But he became addicted to marijuana as a street child and resorted to stealing, robbery and other crimes.
His low point came, he said, when his stepbrother refused to lend him 100 taka (US$1.45), saying he would rather buy bread for dogs than give money to an addict. The young man asked his father to support his treatment or hand him over to the police. The father eventually chose the latter, and the police gave them BARACA´s address. After graduating from BARACA, the young man reunited with his birth mother, and she arranged his marriage five years later.
After 16 drug-free years, he wrote: "With my wife and daughter, I am happy. I sincerely thank God and BARACA because there was no hope of survival. I am cured today through a miracle of God."
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