Reachout Center – Mombasa

December 2019

Valvisions Foundation, in partnership with Reachout Center Trust, conducted a workshop in their Mombasa offices targeting those that are recovering from drug addiction, those that have already recovered and are now peer educators, and members of the community that help the Center recruit the youth found to be using drugs. There was a very positive turn out. We had a total of 80 participants attend the 3-day seminar.

The first day we had a group discussion with those who are recovering as well as the recovered addicts. The ones on recovery are given methadone which helps reduce the effects of heroin. Methadone eases the withdrawal symptoms and helps maintain the addict during recovery. It is sad to see what drug addiction can do to negatively impact lives. During the meeting, the addicts kept falling asleep due to the effects of the drugs. When they were awake, the substance abusers greatly contributed to the discussion; they are very knowledgeable, some have brilliant minds that have just wasted away. They get a lot of love and support from the Reachout Center counselors. The counselors know each one of the recruits by name, and it was interesting to see how well they responded to the peer counselors and the Director of the Center. Addressing the addicts by name gives them a sense of belonging; they are not just shadows in the corridors. They are recognized and appreciated.

When listening to the individuals share the tribulations they go through on the street as a result of their drug use, we wondered how they managed to survive. They will go to any length to get money for their next ‘fix.’ They have been beaten, sexually abused, imprisoned, chased away from their homes- all the results of drug and substance abuse. One female addict explained that she feels like she’s in a prison where she can’t get out. Drug addiction, it seems, is the only prison where one is locked up, but the keys are on the inside.  Unlocking the door and getting out is a decision only the addict can only make, with a lot of support.

Those that have recovered are definitely in a good place. They are, however, cautious of a relapse. They know how fast that can happen as most have relapsed many times. Those in recovery speak with pride of where they are now as opposed to where they used to be. They are very vocal; they speak their mind and caution those that have not used drugs to keep away. They have lost a lot of valuable time due to drug abuse.

The second group we met with were women and girls from the community who act as peer educators. They have been trained by ReachOut Center to identify the users, approach them with love and care, and finally convince them to come to the Center for treatment. The Center has a clinic that gives free medical care to the addicts. They are monitored in-house for a period of 6 months and then released to go back home under supervision. The Center has weekly meetings with the recovering addicts where they are given a platform to speak about their lives, and the struggles they may be going through. One of the biggest challenges is the environment they come from. When they finish the 6-month in-house program, they generally return to the same community that initially introduced them to the drugs. They find the same friends, family and environment that they have been living in; staying sober is difficult. Each user must have a very strong will and drive to survive.

The peer counselors do a marvelous job; their work is difficult, but they are very persistent. They go door to door, neighborhood to neighborhood educating the community on the dangers of drug and substance abuse. It was extremely impressive to note that they even have sign language interpreters. Some of the peer counselors are deaf, and they help in reaching out to the users who are deaf.

We discussed many topics for the duration of the conference. Valvisions Foundation offered topics on FGM, physical and mental health, self-esteem, and women and finances. The ladies were horrified to hear and see pictures of what FGM does to the woman’s anatomy; they have heard of the practice but seeing pictures brought the message home hard. They all said they know or have heard of young girls being cut, but they did not want to interfere with people’s culture.

After the talk, the peer counselors (addicts in recovery) promised to include the message of anti-FGM in their campaigns. We spoke about the need to stay healthy both physically and mentally, so they can perform their duties well. The peer educators take in a lot of information from the patients they work with, so they have to be careful not to get depressed by what they hear. Some of the women in the group joined the counseling sessions because their children had become drug addicts; the fight for these women is very close to their hearts. Self-esteem is an issue that affects women a lot; most of them come from homes where they are to be seen but not heard. They have so much to say, but they are taught that a woman should not complain; she must find a way to manage her issues quietly. They lose their self-esteem in the process and depression often sets in.

The need for women to be financially stable cannot be over emphasized. Financial independence means that a woman can take care of herself and her children if married, in case of divorce, or loss of a spouse. Most women suffer a great deal when they are left by the men in their lives. They do not have the financial means to take care of themselves, and they often get taken advantage of by the male relatives. This is especially true in the case of wife inheritance- a situation in which a woman is inherited by a male relative of her dead husband which is still a very common practice in some communities.

We shared meals with the ladies during the conference, we distributed sanitary towels, and a cake was shared with each group of participants; they felt loved and appreciated.

Mr. Taib the Director of Reachout Center was very grateful for the support from Valvisions Foundation. He has requested that we help him next year by setting up mentoring programs in some of the schools like we do with the Choice Club activities, so they can reach out to students on the dangers of drug and substance abuse before it is too late. He was impressed with our school mentorship program and believes that by improvising such programs, they will be able to save many children.

Attached are some pictures from the workshop. We cannot share pictures of the recovering and recovered patients for their own privacy. The pictures shared are of the peer counselors during the training.

A facilitator from Reachout Center Trust teaching on menstrual hygiene     

Grace of Valvisions Foundation and Mr.Taib Director at Reachout Center

A facilitator from Outreach Center Trust discussing cervical cancer

Grace from Valvisions Foundation discussing FGM

Grace of Valvisions Foundation with facilitators from Reachout Center Trust

Facilitators from Reachout Center Trust  

Sharing a meal at the conference provided by Valvisions Foundation

Sharing cake with the participants.

Mohamed of Reachout Center Trust enjoying the cake

Meeting the peer educators from Reachout Center Trust

Mr. Taib, Director at Reachout Center Trust introducing Valvisions Foundation to the peer educators

Issuing pads donated by Valvisions Foundation. All the 40 participants received a month’s supply

Meeting with Peer Educators from Reachout Center Trust

Grace of Valvisions Foundation teaching on Mental and Physical Health, self-esteem and women and finances

Distribution of food to the second group provided by Valvisions Foundation

Closing remarks by Grace of Valvisions Foundation

Cutting cake with the participants

Group photo with staff from Reachout Center Trust

Celebrating a successful conference between Reachout Center Trust and Valvisions Foundation

 

 

 

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