Building work resumes at the Myitkyina addiction recovery centre

In a tweet by Columban missionary Fr. Eamon Sheridan recently, he announced that building work has resumed on the women’s dormitory at the Rebirth Rehabilitation Centre in Myanmar. When completed, it will be the first residential centre for women grappling with addiction in Kachin state.

Construction work on a new building
Building work has commenced on the dormitory at the Rebirth Rehabilitation Centre in Myitkyina in Myanmar.

“After a 4 month pause for obvious reasons (if you follow the news) we are able to continue the building of our Dorm for women who suffer from addiction. The 1st residential centre for women in Kachin state. Thanks to our donors,” Fr. Eamon tweeted.

The building project began on 1 November 2020. The building is only the first step, staff have also to be employed to work there.

The Rebirth Rehabilitation Centre (RRC) was founded in 2015 by the Catholic Diocese of Myitkyina. This diocese was founded and staffed by Columbans from 1936 until 1978 when all Columbans had to leave.

The RRC offers a programme that treats addiction as a disease not a moral failing. “We have a holistic, client centred approach that treats the physical, spiritual and mental nature of the disease. We are the only drug rehab centre with this approach. We introduce our clients to the 12-step spirituality of Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous,” Fr. Eamon explains.

“Following the example of Catholic social teaching we recognise the dignity of each human being made in the image and likeness of God and loved unconditionally. Thank God we have a growing number of people who are finding long term sobriety.”

Kachin Land is a remote area of north eastern Myanmar. The Kachin people are a warm, generous welcoming people. They are mostly Christian in this predominantly Buddhist country.

They are victims of the world’s longest civil conflict, almost 70 years, between the Kachin Independence Army and the Burmese Military.  It flared up again in 2011 driving 130,000 people from their homes and villages into camps for internally displaced people.

Kachin Land is rich in natural resources that are harvested for others while the local people remain very poor. Most Kachins live in very remote areas and survive on subsistence farming. This area is the second biggest producer of heroin and the biggest producer of meta-amphetamines in the world. With no prospect of meaningful work many young people are easy prey for the drug pushers.

Heroin, known as No 4 here, is the drug of choice and is easily and cheaply available. Thousands are dying, families are being torn apart and the culture destroyed by addiction. It is of epidemic proportions. It is not an exaggeration to say that every family has at least one or more people addicted to Heroin. The majority of our clients also test positive for HIV and/or Hepatitis C.

“At the RRC we talked about how we could help women and in consultation with the Bishop we decided to fundraise to build a dormitory for women.”

The Bishop donated land just beside the main centre. “This means the women who come will be able to attend the sessions in the main centre. However, they will also need their own classroom so that they can have classes that are specific to women.”

The total cost of the building, to accommodate 30 female clients, with a living area and bathroom facilities along with a classroom and fencing around the site, is approximately $72,000. “It will not be easy to raise this money in these difficult times, but I believe that God wants these women to come out of the shadows and to find recovery, and so a way will be found.”

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