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There’s life after drugs, rehabilitated addicts show

/ 01:33 AM January 08, 2017
Surrenderees reach out to Tagle after the Mass at theManila Cathedral. —MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

Surrenderees reach out to Tagle after the Mass at the Manila Cathedral. —MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

There is life after one’s addiction to illegal drugs, no matter how long and hard the battle is—and this is what these rehabilitated drug dependents are here to prove.

Reformed drug addicts will attend a Mass to be celebrated by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle today to show that there is still hope for society’s least, lost and the last.

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The ex-dependents managed to change with the help of a Catholic drug rehabilitation farm, the Fazenda da Esperanca (Farms of Hope) from Brazil, which set up an extension program in Masbate.

“The event also intends to show people that there is really hope and people with addiction can have a new life without their vices,” said Fr. Anton Pascual, executive director of Caritas Manila.

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Pascual said 150 representatives from the Fazenda community in Barangay Bangad, Milagros in Masbate will take part in the Mass at the Manila Cathedral.

Among the representatives are current residents of the Fazenda community in Masbate, as well as its “graduates”—former drug dependents who managed to reform themselves from their addiction.

“The Holy Mass will serve as a special thanksgiving for the life given by God and the hope that the Church wishes to share to all especially to the drug surrenderers and those who have reformed from drug dependence,” Pascual said in a statement.

President Duterte, interior secretary Ismael Sueno and undersecretary John Castriciones were also invited to attend the event.

Caritas Manila is the social action arm of the Archdiocese of Manila, which will sign a partnership with the Fazenda organization from Brazil after the Mass.

The partnership aims to strengthen the archdiocese’s own parish-based, drug rehabilitation program dubbed “Sanlakbay,” run by Caritas Manila.

Launched last October 2016, “Sanlakbay” aims to help thousands of drug surrenderers resulting from the government’s intense campaign against illegal drugs.

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“Sanlakbay” also offers paralegal assistance, religious studies, livelihood training, education, advocacy, services for social action, and medical assistance to surrenderers.

Pascual noted that the Fazenda community in Masbate has helped 300 drug addicts recover from their substance abuse in the past 13 years, with an 80-percent success rate.

“The one-year therapeutic and healing program has three components: community life, spiritual formation and work at the farm,” he explained.

The Fazenda organization originated in Brazil in the 1980s and was founded by Fr. Hans Stapel, eventually expanding to 120 farms in 18 other countries including the Philippines.

Stapel is also expected to attend the thanksgiving Mass.

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TAGS: Caritas Manila, drug addicts, Illegal drugs, Ismael Sueno, John Castriciones, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, mass, President Duterte
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