Alcohol, Drugs, Tobacco – Turning Point in Kenya
Today I came to Kenya again arriving at 5.30 am. I soon felt a sense of excitement, vitality and movement that I don’t feel in other places. Everyone seems to be on the move. There are new roads, more buildings, young people everywhere, people with plans and lively discussions about how to improve Kenya.
After negotiating immigration and customs who were all friendly and seemed glad to see me again, I exited the airport but without my baggage – it was held up in Dubai, Pushing that worry aside I was whisked away with Pastor/Doctor John Macharia and Florence to visit the WCTU and Turning Point Rehabilitation House set in Ongata Rongai, a large sprawling slum outside Nairobi. This was a ministry initiated by Pastor John some years ago, along with many other portfolios he carries.
Here I was warmly received by Douglas Onsando, the manager and counsellor of the eight beautiful young people there to be helped escape from the ravages of alcohol and drugs. Pastor John, Florence and Douglas make a marvellous team with their dedication and animated friendly personalities blessing the growing number of youth who come for help. The three are totally committed to helping change the lives of those who ask for help in this country where the concerns about the use of mariguana is growing and has become a menace to contend with. Their friendliness and positive attitude was contagious for me and the residents. They are entirely suited for this ministry.
We enjoyed a hearty breakfast of boiled eggs, wholemeal bread, maize and beans, oranges and hot chocolate. We were a family of parents and young people seated around the table. The six young men were all handsome, strong and well educated, most of them with degrees from university and had been working in prestigious jobs before succumbing to the DAT poisons and finding themselves unable to function properly. One was a bio-chemist, another a musician with plans to be an anthropologist. Yet another had enjoyed a thriving yoghurt making business following his university education. The one young woman, now 26 years old, was beautiful and self assured although feeling ashamed because of her addiction to mariguana. She had been introduced to it by an older student at university and had used it for the past 7 years. Her degree was in business with two more post graduate degrees, one in criminology. I was amazed and impressed.
They had all come by word-of-mouth and their parents or themselves were endeavouring to pay the fees required. They stay in the small compound for 90 days straight where Douglas and other professional people come each day to teach, instruct, train, pray and care for them while they begin a new life without the mind destroying substances. Already some have begun their new lives and become Christians or recommitted their lives to Christ. One is now training to be a minister.
Pastor John reminded them that this was only a ‘comma’ in their lives and they were now going to move on and up even into eternity. The atmosphere was charged with love, compassion and positive attitudes. I was privileged to tell them more about WCTU and its history and current position in the world. The young men wanted to know if it was only for women. They wanted to be part of such a vibrant organisation.
Douglas, now 35 and unmarried, is paid a stipend but never enough for a man such as himself. Other counsellors and helpers who come from time to time are offered stipends only. The facilities are sparse and the needs are many but they use what they have wisely. Florence, the treasurer, together with Douglas, is working towards having the Rehabilitation centre accredited by the government which will help with insurance and help to lower the costs for the residents.
After continued prayer for sometime the centre has recently been able to acquire a rental house right next door to the existing men’s house for young women. They firmly believe this is God’s leading. Maureen is the first to benefit from this facility. The women’s house needs some dressing-up with curtains, a mat, some cushions and pictures. The centre needs a keyboard and an oven. Often a resident is musical. There are plans to make bread and sell it.
Thanks to donors from USA and Australia, this centre has become a reality although there is much to be done yet. Some gymnastic and fitness equipment has been purchased with donations from WCTU in West Australia. The young men are delighted with a treadmill, a full gym machine and a punch bag.
To see how this ministry has grown from a room in a dusty slum town where counselling happened a few days a week to a dynamic small Rehabilitation centre, blessing the lives of many, is utterly gratifying and exciting. It is the only one of its kind in Kenya where the Gospel, together with a message of absolute abstinence from alcohol, other drugs and tobacco, is taught.
This gives me and those who see it, great cause for rejoicing. We shall continue to talk about it wherever possible and teach parents, teachers and carers that addiction is a disease and needs proper treatment. This can be found at WCTU Turning Point House in Ongata Rongai, Nairobi, Kenya.