The Salvation Army’s Drug Rehabilitation/Men’s Social Service Centre can now accommodate 45 residential addicts undergoing treatment for substance abuse with its newly constructed wing, which was commissioned yesterday.
At a dedication ceremony held at the Water Street, Kingston facility, it was noted that it previously only accommodated 25 residents and that the addition to the building cost $16.5 million. Construction began in May of last year and was completed earlier this month.
Minister of Finance Dr Ashni Singh commissioned the wing and later handed over a cheque for $5 million, noting that $5 million had been handed over earlier, fulfilling government’s promise to provide $10 million per annum to the institution.
Before the unveiling of the plaque, the minister took to the podium to say that he was very impressed with the institution’s progress over the years and that the government is privileged to join forces with the Salvation Army to construct the new wing. He also noted that substance abuse was not confined to any specific strata of population, but it is a scourge, that the world is fighting. He said that no one should be castigated or condemned because, everybody wants a second chance and deserves to have one.
According to Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Salvation Army, Edward Boyer, the construction came as a joint effort with the government. He added that the Army’s input cannot be measured because of the volume of voluntary work that was done.
Administrator of the facility Major Ulrick Thibaud expressed gratitude to Food for the Poor Guyana Incorporated for its donation of furniture for the new wing.
Thibaud became emotional as he told the gathering that since he took up duties as administrator he was asked by an individual about his plans for the institution and his reply was that he wanted a new facility. Because of the generosity of the government, he said, his dream came through.
He stressed the importance of the facility and the impact it has on the lives of people who left there and went on to “bigger things” in life. He also spoke about persons who received help from the institute and in turn, became counsellors at the other ten branches around the country.
Chief Counsellor Amarnauth Persad said addicts are taken to the facility by family members or other means and they receive six months of treatment which includes counselling and therapy. He explained that the clients are then taken to a half-way house where they are monitored.
“They stay at the half-way house [until] … they are ready to re-enter into society…. We monitor them even after they leave. We keep in touch with them just to see how they are doing” Persad said.
The Salvation Army is currently present in 126 countries, running charity shops, operating shelters for the homeless, providing relief and humanitarian aid.