When Church, academe, and drug users become friends
DAVAO City, Feb. 7, 2017 —Theirs was an offer of friendship, an invitation to get to know each other better, and to help one another in their shared desire to curb the drug menace.
Instead of condemning them for being drug users, the local church of Davao and a state university here have offered hands of friendship to those many consider to be problems of society.
Through the Sagop Kinabuhi Program 2 Fun Day, drug users have experienced new hope, that they too can become productive citizens of the country. The Archdiocese of Davao, the University of Southeastern Philippines, and different partners joined in the fun to foster friendship.
Different sports activities, parlor games, team-building activities, moments of reflection were organized to strengthen the bond of camaraderie among the partner agencies and the drug users who voluntarily submitted themselves for reformation and participated in the two-day event from Jan. 27 to 28 at Eden Nature Resort in Toril, Davao City, headed by the University of the Southeastern Philippines (USeP) and the Archdiocesan Social Action Center of Davao.
Every life is sacred
ASAC director Fr. Leonardo Dublan, Jr. said every life is “a gift of God” and is sacred.
According to the priest, like the mustard seed that falls to the ground, every life is bound to undergo a process before it can bear fruit, and the same is true for everyone, regardless if one is a drug user, a priest or a religious.
“No one is bound for waste. Walang pa-tapon,” Dublan said in his homily during the opening Mass, adding that every endeavor can succeed, but it becomes more fruitful with the help of God.
This same reason also prompted USeP to finance the SKP 2, knowing that drug abuse has become a major problem in the country. Sagop Kinabuhi is a Cebuano term which means “save lives”.
Dr. Danilo Pacoy, vice president of the Research Division Extension of USeP, said the academe wants to volunteer its expertise to help address the drug crisis.
Helping them are heads and representatives from the Davao City Police Office, Philippine National Police Talomo, City Social Services Development Office, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Education, barangays and their officials who accompanied the drug users, as well as other partners who also believe that drug users deserve a chance to reform themselves through different activities.
Change starts within
Perry (not his real name), one of the participants during the SKP 2 Fun Day, said though society wants them to change for the better, it is only they who can decide for their future and whether or not they will get killed in one of the police’s anti-drug operations.
“I did not promise to others that I will change. I promised to myself, only to myself, that I will have to change for my own good,” Perry said.
ASAC coordinator Sr. Ma. Marissa Arado, TDM said the activities lined up for the drug users have just begun as they are expecting to run SKP 2 in the parishes and in their respective barangays.
Mervin Gascon, SKP 2 project director said the program can only push through with the cooperation of the reformists and the help of the different partners.
He said he also looks forward to the fruits of SKP 2, which will run for three years, and how it could help former drug users recover and become more productive. (John Frances C. Fuentes / CBCP News)