Edutainment Mix: In the art of rehabilitation, charity and hope

Archbishop Alex Thomas with young adults and youth and Father Sonny Xavier

The topic of drug abuse is now becoming cliché as some may think, but it is something topical as it addresses the reality of the pain and the suffering that many of the youth and even young adults experience.

We cannot be silent about the scourge of drug abuse and how it has affected many youths and has culminated in very serious mental health repurcations. Many of us artists and creatives do advocate against drug abuse and the issues of mental health which  is good and very commendable.

But there is a “but”, it means that many are aware of the theoretical reality of drug abuse which stems from what we hear and learn from different experts. The rhetoric is that many are not aware of the lived experience of people who have succumbed to drug abuse who are in a rehabilitation center.

An important privilege was to have the experience of joining the Holy Family Catholic Church young adults and youth from Nketa in their recent visit to Ingutsheni Central Hospital which is one of the biggest mental health institutions in Zimbabwe.

I got to learn that Ingutsheni also has a drug rehabilitation centre which caters for those who have been addicted to the scourge of drugs and drugged up behaviour.

It is of note that much of the artistic-related community drug abuse advocacy has a bias towards more of the causes and the effects, but it overlooks the need for a more solution-based approach.

The solution-based approach is also using referral services and professional intervention from institutions such as Ingutsheni Central Hospital.

What sparked my interest was that together with the youth and young adults we had a full tour and edutaining experience on the visit to Ingutsheni  which also gave us all a new insight and also reality check.

Another mention of honour was the presence of the Archbishop of the Bulawayo Archdiocese Alex Thomas (SVD) who took his time to come with the youth and young adults to have the experience of seeing the reality of drug abuse and the challenge of mental health.

The visit was also embodied an edutaining workshop which was facilitated by the health officer at Ingutsheni Ms. Anesu which put focus on the causes, effects and ways to handle issues that surround drug use and abuse.

The aspect of edutainment in this workshop was the use of a vivid and well explained power point presentation and seeing some real time samples of the differently abused drugs.

One thing I learnt was the question of inventiveness on the youth as they can now manufacture drugs using home made products.

A question that came into my mind was that of the level of vulnerability and risk which many of the youth in our generation are facing but also having to consider the causative elements that lead to the abuse of drugs.

As we had a tour of the different wards one point of note was the issue of the need for a solution based approach to address the root cause of drug abuse.

In as much as rehabilitation of drug abusers has a meaning there is more deeper pain that of again returning or regressing  back to drugs because of the lack of progression.

Rehabilitation is a solution and a need but is it practical as the needed solution in Zimbabwe.

One thing I learnt was the importance of charity to those in institutions as they are a vulnerable group who are enclosed and do not have visitors.

Artists are critical in charity, the charity is not supposed to be for the “clout” that is to be seen but a cause that  is needed in a quest for the promotion of ubuntu.

It is also driven by sacrifice and self-giving of time and heart to have an appreciation of the challenges those in institutions such as Ingutsheni face.

In the past months the institution has put out an SOS with regard to a shortage of food, warm clothing, blankets and many other necessities such as syringes and medication, it is in response to such needs that charity becomes requisite.

The chair of the Holy Family Parish (Nketa) young adults association Nyasha Moyo explained: “As young adults we felt the need to come and learn about the issues that relate to drug use and abuse which continually affects many of us as young adults and youth. We also saw it rightful to donate a few goods in a spirit of charity which is something that we are encouraged to do as Christians and also in the Catholic Social teachings which we follow”.

The visit by the yadults saw the donation of food stuffs such as mealie meal, rice, flour, cooking oil among a few necessities and clothes which would be of use as during the winter season. As an artist this act by the youth also reminded of the reality of how often the people in society who are in need are the most overlooked such as those within institutions like Ingutsheni which houses patients with mental problems.

One reality check from this visit to Ingutsheni was also premised on the need to recognise how society and governments aren't set up to protect everyone who needs help and hence that is why charity and compassion as the values of ubuntu fill the gaps and provide dedicated resources to help the most vulnerable such as the patients with mental problems and the victims of drug abuse.

In his remarks the Parish priest Fr. Sonny Xavier (SVD) outlined the importance of the visit to Ingutsheni as it was a trip  that reminded him of his days as a seminarian  in the heart of his native India when he worked in a drug rehabilitation center for a year.

“When I was a seminarian in India I was assigned to work in a drug rehabilitation center and we would witness a lot of addicts who had a real struggle. Some would try and smuggle the drugs into the institution so as to not remain sober. The pain of addiction was seeing some even mixing acid which they believed enhanced the high and leaving many in a state of health risk and death. Issues of drug abuse are universal but it is important that youth from my parish also get to have a practical experience and also learn the importance of charity and giving”. Fr. Sonny (SVD)  said.

The workshop also had a poetry presentation from myself which was a poem titled “drugged up”. In the poetry I addressed the reality of the drug culture which has affected many youth.

We have seen many of our brothers and peers die and our sisters losing themselves. The reality of drug abuse is a pain that destroys the future of many youth and has left them in a state of devastation with their futures lost.

Artists especially remain at the risk of drug abuse and in the visit to one of wards one of the inmates highlighted how he was an artist who had succumbed to the effects of drugs and how he had abused them a lot and he ended up in the street.

In using poetry I saw it as a critical tool that can be used to reach a youthful audience and also accentuate the message of drug use and abuse and its effect within the community.

Speaking to the animator of the Young adults, Bernadette Ndlovu said, “ drugs are taking lives and our society is losing the youth and young adults the now of our generation as we should not think of the future but the now. If the now dies then there is no future”.

Jenea Magugu the advisor for the junior youth said, “truancy because of drugs is a problem as many youths are becoming school drop outs more has to be done especially in schools with regard to gangs, violence and issues of teen pregnancies. The common denominator are the drugs which are sold in our communities and so there is a need to fight againt drug abuse.”

There is need to engrave the youth in a culture of charity but in the process embrace the need to understand the effects and the problems of drug abuse and also so rehabilitation as a deep solution to issues of drug abuse.

  • Raymond Millagre Langa is a musician, poet, orator and independent researcher. He is also the founder of Indebo edutainment Trust. Follow Raymond Millagre Langa @Millagre Ray Langa on Facebook, @Millagre Langa on twitter and email or [email protected]

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