DARE Network (Drug and Alcohol Recovery and Education Network)

DARE (Drug & Alcohol Recovery & Education) Network is a grassroots national NGO. DARE Network provides culturally appropriate non-medical treatment & prevention education to reduce substance abuse & associated social issues within the communities of displaced ethnic people from Burma, along the Thai/Burma border. DARE Network envisions the strength of ethnic people from Burma to use the power of recovery from addiction as a non-violent means to resist oppression. A Free Mind Cannot Be Destroyed.
Oct 2, 2015

Youth Prevention Activities in Our Migrant Center

Migrant youth learning computer skills
Migrant youth learning computer skills

 

 DARE Network serves to provide addiction prevention education programs across five refugee camps and one migrant community along the Thai-Burma border. Much of this work is youth-focused, aimed at preventing kids and teenagers from engaging in substance abuse and developing addiction issues that could impact them for the rest of their lives. This work is as engaging and dynamic as the young people DARE works with, no more so than within the migrant DARE Network Center in Proprah District. This community faces unique challenges, very different to those faced by camp-based refugees, and so in response to distinctive needs, DARE Network here is markedly different to other locations.

 

Yee S., age 26, has been an Addiction Worker for eight years in DARE Network’s Proprah District Migrant Centre. Yee explained this to me when I visited the DARE migrant centre for the first time.

 

Youth work is a major focus of this DARE Centre – prevention-education activities and peer support groups regularly are held in the evenings, and older teenagers are encouraged to lead these activities alongside Yee, giving them experience in leadership, addiction work, and the opportunity to take responsibility for younger teenagers and children.

 

Yee explains how DARE’s work here is youth-focused and relies on building organic relationships with teenagers. Though specific prevention-education campaigns are conducted three times per month within the Centre itself, building relationships of trust between teenagers and the addiction workers, including Yee, is an important route into being able to talk about addiction and substance abuse. Young people come to the Centre in the evenings to learn to use computers, develop textile skills with DARE’s sewing machines, and take guitar lessons. Rabbits, Frisbees, and volleyballs are available to play with – though it’s recommended not to play with all at once – for the sake of rabbit welfare (for example, ultimate-Frisbee tournaments just don’t mix well with docile furry friends).

 

Other ways DARE has been able to support the migrant community here include support for teachers within schools for migrant children, which are entirely donor-dependent, and so can shut down at any time. Due to lack of funding, teachers are routinely underpaid, so Yee has previously worked to source funding to supplement salaries, again as an important way of meeting the needs of youth within this community. DARE addiction workers also visit four migrant schools to offer computer training, and addiction prevention-education workshops.

 

Proprah District Migrant Centre works within ethnic migrant communities from Burma living in this area. Most of these people are day labourers in the farms surrounding this area, often illegally. Due to the nature of this work, DARE’s addiction treatment would be inappropriate and is not compatible with people’s lives. Yee explained that here people work everyday: to come in for treatment would mean stopping work, which is not possible for most.

 

Instead, Yee and other DARE Addiction Workers here start prevention-education activities at 5pm everyday to fit around work timetables. Addicted people come here and can receive support and prevention-education information, and though treatment is not accessible to this community, Yee explained that DARE’s philosophy of addiction recovery is that 20% comes from treatment, 30% comes from a person’s community support for their recovery, and 50% is an internal process within a person themselves. By supporting people to invest in themselves and learn about the addiction issues they have and how to recover, recovery from addiction is still possible.

 

The Migrant Centre is also different to camp DARE Centres as it responds to the specific needs of migrant workers, by focusing not only on provision of addiction prevention-education but also focusing on issues of labour rights and healthcare. To be an effective and responsive community organisation, DARE’s work here cannot be limited to a focus on only drugs and alcohol. In collaboration with health and labour rights – focused organisations, DARE Centre is able to facilitate the meeting of migrant community interests and needs.

 

Following the horrendous 2012 flooding within Burma, DARE Migrant Centre functioned as not only a place where migrant community members could receive support and help, but also as a facilitator of this group of people reaching out to those in more dire need than themselves. Together, migrants collected clothes to send to communities that were severely impacted by these floods, coordinating this from the DARE Centre. Through being able to provide a collection point and base for organisation to take place, Yee and others working within DARE here, have been part of tangible community building efforts, as well as help mitigate societal issues surrounding addiction that affect these communities.

 

The generous and on-going support from Global Giving donors for our work to provide Youth Addiction Prevention-Education makes possible DARE Network’s involvement in this community. Thank you for helping to empower our passionate and creative team to conduct this work, building communities that are free from addiction.

Prevention education starts early
Prevention education starts early
Keeping teens off the streets
Keeping teens off the streets
Yee S. - DARE Network Addiction staff member
Yee S. - DARE Network Addiction staff member
Ultimate frisbee - fun and team building
Ultimate frisbee - fun and team building
Music makes the people come together
Music makes the people come together
Jul 15, 2015

The Opening Ceremony

Step Back to Burma team stands together!
Step Back to Burma team stands together!

July 1st, 2015 marked the official opening ceremony of DARE Network’s Step Back to Burma training program! After months of preparation, the first DARE team to work in Burma have begun their 6-month long training in Mae La camp. 

These 15 trainees will form a mobile Addiction Worker team that will work in Hpa’an District of Karen State. Here they will become equipped to provide pioneering addiction treatment and prevention education programs to 20 rural villages where such services are vitally needed.

The Opening Ceremony was a day of celebration and a show of the strength of community support for DARE Network’s expansion into Burma. Conducted in both Karen and Burmese languages, and attended by camp leaders, former clients, their families, religious leaders of three faiths - Buddhism, Islam and Christianity, core staff, trainees, trainers, and the wider community of Mae La, the day was colored by a tangible sense of support and encouragement for the new trainees. Thanks in part to your generous donations, the fruits of "The Amazing Project – Stepping Back to Burma” are being realized in a substantial way.

Many leaders spoke a message of hope for freedom from addiction and the vital importance of solidarity. An uplifting and harmonious song performed by the trainees served as a sign of the strength of the team’s collective spirit and support for one another in this brave harbinger project of DARE’s. To solidify this, in one of the oldest shows of community, the Opening Ceremony closed with a shared meal. 

After the ceremony some trainees spoke up about why they had personally felt moved to join this training, and to work as part of DARE’s new Addiction Worker team. Stories of how addiction has affected their communities, their families, and themselves were shared in this new extension of the DARE family. Most of the trainees come from Thai border camps, and desire to return and contribute to their homeland.

The Opening Ceremony took place in the context of recent flairs of conflict in Karen State, which has led to increased instability and displacement of many more people. For as long as narcotics remain a political tool used to fuel and fund conflict, rural villages within Karen State will remain at high risk of suffering from the negative impacts of substance abuse. Proof of this can be seen in the 20-80% addiction rates found across rural villages in the region.

This conflict simultaneously has increased demands for DARE’s camp-based services, as more people seek refuge in the camps from bursts of conflict, whilst donors decrease services provided in camps as they shift funding into Burma to focus on in-country development instead. Addiction rates soar in camps and in rural villages in Karen State.

The Amazing Project – Stepping Back to Burma, marks the beginning of DARE Network beginning to reach out to those communities afflicted by addiction within Karen State, without reducing camp-based operations.

The next 6-months of training for these 15 new Addiction Workers has now commenced, with the promise of hope for real change amongst ethnic communities in Burma.

Religious leaders spoke of the value of community.
Religious leaders spoke of the value of community.
Camp leaders encouraged trainees to do their best.
Camp leaders encouraged trainees to do their best.
Trainees sing together
Trainees sing together
We share a meal, as family and community.
We share a meal, as family and community.
Jul 6, 2015

DARE Community Manual - Mission Accomplished!

Law La Say, Chau Su and Major with the manual
Law La Say, Chau Su and Major with the manual

The DARE All Burma Community Addiction Manual is now complete! A huge success for the team that opens up many opportunities and will strengthen our future programs.  

The manual contains instructions and details of our entire program. From detox massage to community prevention education. It has been developed by our local staff, in only local languages – Karen and Burmese.

DARE’s mission is to build the capacity and strength of the local people to support other community members to recover from addiction. The completion of this manual is very rewarding for the team, who have worked extremely hard on it for many yearsl. It will be a key tool in the spread of addiction awareness, education and recovery along the borderline, in Burma and overseas in third countries.

It will enable people in remote areas to begin to provide awareness, education and basic treatment. It will enable more people to be trained as Addiction Workers, and those trainers we already have to use their skills to train more people in more places.

Law La Say our Program Coordinator was the lead on this project from start to finish.  He directed what was to go in, how the program was to be explained and completed the translation into Burmese.

He said about the completion of the manual:

”In 2002 and 2004 we started to create a manual, we used this for a few years but needed to add more after developing extra modules and feedback from the community. Since then we have been hoping for an opportunity to put all the knowledge together. We have so much knowledge from our time that we have learned and shared, that we decided that if we can put all the information together it will be so useful and much easier for our program, it will be our gift to the program. If ever DARE is gone, or we cannot reach somewhere, the manual will live on as a gift to the community.”

Major, our Assistant Program Coordinator learnt a lot from the process of developing the manual, another huge benefit from the process. He was the main formatter, editor and also did Karen translations. He said about the manual:

”We have support from the other people in the team who can help when something is not correct, so together with my increased skills and the team support I feel more confident to do more things for DARE”

The internal and external gain from the process and actual manual itself are almost immeasurable. We look forward to implementing it here and seeing it be used to help others around the world.

We would like to thank our funders for the manual project; Refugees International Japan and the Dave and Kerry Foundation for their generosity and continued support of our project.

 

Until next time,

The DARE Team. 

 
   

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