1997-06-10 00:00:00

Local people call it "angrezjo goth" (foreigner´s village), but the farm and center run by American-born De La Salle Brother Norman Wray is where many Pakistanis find their way home.

There they learn to live without abusing drugs, not through taking medicine but through group therapy, meditation and a daily regimen of physical work.

The Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre for Drug Rehabilitation (MALC) stands on about 40 hectares of farmland donated by a wealthy Muslim landlord in the middle of Sindh province, at Sanjero, 250 kilometers north of Karachi.

Brother Norman, now 73, has been running it for 18 years.

Patients come from all over Pakistan and from all walks of life. The center is meant for 25 persons, but due to the rise in drug abuse, larger numbers have often been accommodated for treatment.

For the three to six months that patients usually stay, they get up early in the morning for physical exercise followed by meditation and group therapy during which they share experiences. Sometimes they discuss moral topics.

After breakfast, they go to work the fields, the produce of which finances the upkeep of the center.

After lunch they take a little rest, tea and again exercise and attend group therapy. They alternate at cooking and various other chores.

Recently a group of De La Salle Brothers and teachers from Faisalabad, in Punjab province to the north of Sindh, visited the MALC.

Brother Christie Dorus told UCA News afterwards, "I was amazed to see how lively and punctual they were. As soon as the whistle went they ran and did their duties. It was difficult to keep in mind that these were drug addicts!"

Patients have been profuse in expressing praise for Brother Norman. Some say that through him they got a new life. "We got a second birth," said one, "because due to drugs we were like dead men."

Another said, "This is brother´s greatness and kindness. We live like a family and help each other in washing clothes and doing all the other household work."

Still, the center is no Eden. There are patients who suffer from severe depression. Some even attempt to escape and return to drugs.

Furthermore, Brother Norman makes no compromises when it comes to drugs, and has at times put a few users in chains. Not even people suffering severe withdrawal symptoms are allowed the smallest amount of the drug they crave.

Otherwise, he is known as a "kind and simple" person. Patients appreciate that he sits and eats with them from an earthen pot.

He jokes with them as well.

Once he announced, "One of the group has run off. Let´s go and find him!" They all ran into the fields to look for the missing person.

After their fruitless effort, Brother Norman grinned and said, "That was just a game, to see if you were alert or not!"

Originally head of St. Patrick´s Technical School in Karachi, Brother Norman later became known for his special charism and ability to care for drug-affected people.

During one group therapy session at the center, a patient related, "My child had to pay the school fees. My wife gave me the money, but instead of paying the fees I bought a shot of drugs.

"Next day the child came crying because he got a scolding. I also cried, and my wife borrowed money from somebody. Still I did not feel shame. The next day I did the same thing again!"

Brother Norman told the center´s visitors that drug addicts "want people to understand them. They want to be free." He feels that 90 percent of people are addicted to some kind of evil and need liberation from their addictions.


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