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Saving T&T’s female addicts
After a six-year waiting period, and a $5.5 million bill, Women in Action for the Needy and Destitute (Wand) is preparing to open the country’s first fully-equipped women’s drug rehab centre to treat with the upsurge of female substance addiction. “There is no such modern-day drug rehab facility for women in the country and the wider region, particularly one with vocational training,” said Simone de la Bastide, chair of Wand.
“Women are currently being incarcerated for drug use and addiction rather than entering a substance abuse recovery programme.” One of 11 women on the Wand board, de la Bastide spoke about the many “hurricanes and tornadoes” the team experienced to get to this point: the bureaucracy involved in acquiring the land and relevant approvals, sourcing funding, and getting to the stage of formally opening the centre.
“We are happy and indeed proud to be able to contribute where there is a void in our society, by assisting women and young girls in Trinidad and Tobago suffering from substance abuse and addiction. Many of us either know someone, or of someone, who is addicted to drugs.”
The Wand Centre will focus on the substance abuse challenges faced by women, and vocational training will also be offered for the residents of the centre to provide them with an opportunity to change their lives while contributing to their families and society as a whole.
New Life Ministries to run centre
The impressive two-storey centre in Palo Seco will house up to 30 women at a time. “We eagerly look forward to the Government granting a significant monthly subvention for the operational costs of the Wand centre, as well as the transition home in Coora Camp.”
Wand will license both facilities to New Life Ministries (NLM), which is run by the Living Water Community, and has worked in drug rehabilitation for 25 years. NLM will run the rehabilitation programme at the Wand Centre where women can be treated from three months up to a year, during which they will also receive vocational training. After their time at the centre, the women will have the chance, via Wand, to be assigned to the transition home at the Coora Camp estate in Siparia for final preparations to return to society.
In existence since 1986, NLM runs its own rehabilitation centre located at Mount St Benedict, which offers rehabilitation through a comprehensive residential programme for both men and women. This is further supported by an extensive after-care programme for clients with the disease of addiction. They also provide drug awareness and education at schools.
The opening and handing-over ceremony for the Wand Centre will take place on June 5. A grand occasion is being planned, in recognition of the hard work and dedication that have gone into this project. “The Wand board members, in particular, have dedicated a lot of time, effort and commitment in the Wand Centre, as well as Ellis and Associates, our quantity surveyors, and Muiznecks Architects, who offered their services free of charge.
“There are too many corporate and individual donors to name but their contributions have been crucial, particularly a foundation from the UK that donated several million dollars,” said de la Bastide. “We sincerely thank them all, the Government and Palo Seco Agricultural Estates Ltd and recognise their commitment to this project.”
In its 14 years, Wand has become a trusted organisation that is known for its sold-out fund-raisers. De la Bastide credits this to “the Wand team, their work ethic and dedication to absolute transparency and accountability in all their activities.”
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