REWA (a Dzongkha word meaning “Hope”) is a non–profit centre established under the umbrella of the Youth Development Fund, Thimphu to assist people with chemically dependency problems recover since December, 2004.
In the beginning of the year 2004, one concerned citizen of Bhutan along with her friend, an expatriate of Belgian descent living in Bhutan [who later became members of the Advisory committee of REWA met two recovering addicts. They shared between themselves a deep concern and anguish over the growing Alcohol and Drug abuse scenario especially amongst the youth, in the beautiful small country of Bhutan. They were highly motivated to act and come up with a service for the people getting caught in the web of addiction. However as they lacked the experience, funds and the knowledge to tackle the problems adequately, they approached the Youth Development Fund for help. The YDF kindly agreed to support REWA financially for two years, provide the necessary trainings for the workers and also help in setting up a network with professionals.
On 22 December 2004, REWA funded by YDF was officially opened as a two room drop in centre for the Alcohol and/or Drug dependent people.
In the beginning it was difficult for REWA to make an impact on the lives of chemically dependent people as the services in the centre were too limited. Since May 2005 three hardcore addicts started sleeping over in REWA as their relationship with their family was strained. They started showing improvement which in turn motivated other dependents to stay in REWA day and night. By the end of June, the 3 people grew into 8 with the blessing from YDF and the Advisory Committee members. This then resulted in a new program, Sleepover. But for 8 people to live in a two room flat was getting increasingly difficult for everyone concerned.
REWA has since then shifted into a proper apartment, continuing with its sleepover programs, with daily and regular sessions for the in–house clients. The sessions are adapted mostly from the Kripa foundation module of a multidisciplinary approach, with adjustments made to suit the local conditions through personal experience of the people working in REWA and with inputs from professionals in this field from other Countries contacted through the help of Youth Development Fund.
It now functions as a small rehabilitation centre, offering programs borrowed from the multi–disciplinary approach, with a blend of the 12X12 steps of Alcoholic Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous and therapeutic community model, and adjustments made to suit the local conditions. Combining both the Western and Eastern discipline, a more friendly and effective treatment for the chemically dependents in Bhutan is made a priority. We also emphasize on the physical condition of our clients, and outdoor games are thus an important component of our treatment program. Moreover, we provide them with entertainment programmes with the aim of having the clients experience the feeling of enjoying life without chemicals. The center also holds a Family Group Session once a week with the parents and/or relatives of its clients. REWA has now been providing these facilities for over a year.
REWA has been catering to male clients mostly from middle and low income groups; some of them have been outcast by their family members, some of them come from very poor families while yet some others have no family at all . Besides the rent of the premises and its recurring expenses being covered under the project funded by YDF, the centre currently receives Nu. 3,000 (roughly USD. 67.5) per month from the YDF as a welfare fund for the clients who do not have family support. For those clients with family support, REWA is charging their parents a total of Nu. 1,000 per month for fooding and Nu. 500 for other expenses (medical, conveyance, communication & entertainment). However, we have kept it flexible as some parents cannot afford to pay, and thus they contribute how much they can. The financial situation of the centre remains therefore a precarious one, and always an issue of concern.
Some of the other activities of REWA namely outreach, awareness–raising, and even the in house facilities for physical exercise have been put on hold due to lack of funds, space and manpower.
Although the centre has been able to make an impact in the lives of some individuals – (as of 21/03/2007, the records show a total of 11 clients who have been clean and sober for a year or more, another 11 who have been clean for more than 6 months to less than a year), REWA is facing increasing challenges given the setting and situation in which it has to operate. At present, REWA’s premises are located in an apartment that consists of 3 rooms, 1 kitchen and 1 hall. In this apartment, REWA is filling in the roles of a Counseling Centre, a Rehabilitation Centre (with an average of 16 clients undergo the programme at any time) and is also providing shelter for those who are unable to go home even after the completion of their courses. The family sessions are also held on REWA’s premises, which are used besides for the other projects that REWA is a part of. This situation is causing a lot of tension, undesired distractions for the clients thus creating an unhealthy environment. The setting also has a negative impact on the level of individual and special attention that is required for the clients. Sometimes having former clients living in with the new clients backfire as a change in the identity and reality of the present situation of these individuals creates friction. The reasons why we have had to keep some of our clients even after completion of their courses are the following: 1. They have no family; 2. They have a family but the family members don’t want them, 3. The family members are themselves alcoholics or drug dependents, 4. The family members are too poor to take them back.
Moreover, most of the clients lack the skills required to find employment, although the support of YDF in this respect has been exemplary, in that it made ad–hoc arrangements for employment/education for some clients. Nevertheless, there are still those who have no skills whatsoever, and some who need attention and support to enable them to go back into the mainstream society in phases. The present centre has been trying to provide all the required facilities within one setting. effects.
- To create public awareness that alcohol & chemical dependency can and is being treated
- To reach out to the alcohol and/or drug dependent people and their families
- To provide support for such people
- To motivate treatment and rehabilitation for substance dependent persons.
Initially, at the centre, there were three types of programmes:
- Counselling: Referred to people who were in the initial stage of using; this could include experimenting, fun–based use etc.
- Drop in: Indicated people who would visit the centre for a cup of coffee and have a chat or play games.
- Day–program: Was for people who attended a set of activities in REWA.
- At the moment REWA functions as a Rehabilitation centre catering to different range of people.