In October 2015 we had journeyed with George and Diana Franklin to Mbale, Eastern Uganda and over the border to Kitale, Western Kenya to teach and set up addiction recovery groups in seven communities.
Now, three years later in October 2018, there was opportunity to return; to re-visit the groups with Pastors Johnstone Kapa and Stephen Nambako, as well as to start new ones!
Recovery and Growth
- The groups were found to have increased both in size and in numbers. In Mayenze, for example, the two original groups had become five.
- Wonderful testimonies were given of lives that had been changed and of healing of family relationships
- Recovery was not restricted to alcohol abuse, but also of heroin users. A group of 16 young people who through use of this drug had become involved in fights with other gangs, sometimes with the police, had formed a church which meets three times a week; they now give dramas at schools and churches to raise awareness and warn of the problem. They had not been present at our first visit, which shows how the message can roll out and transform.
- Pastor Johnstone has been elected to the County Alcohol Committee and has formed a relationship with the District Officer who accompanied us on our visit to Tongaren Vocational Training Institute that Johnstone has founded, as well as to other projects.
- Many projects have been started by the recovery groups, e.g. keeping poultry, sheep, bees, as well as horticulture; “table banking” was a common enterprise, but is not without problems.
- Groups of spouses – those living with the problem – were also continuing to meet.
Groups were started both for those having the problem and for their spouses in four communities in Uganda: Bunasimolo, Tororo, Bugabero and Mgale – the latter is a village spread over a large area where there are already groups functioning; this was fresh teaching to “Mgale II”.
In Tororo there was a group of 15 young problem drinkers who joined to form their own group separate from the older people.
Reviewing the established groups the overall picture was very encouraging. However, there were a few issues which needed a remedy:
- Groups were tending to become too large; perhaps as many as 27, rather than limiting numbers to 12 or so.
- People who wanted to become sober were then told to go away to form their own group.
- Group projects were the dominant topic of discussion in meetings rather than the 12 Step program and spiritual growth.
- Table banking was something of a failure as borrowers tended not to repay loans, and in some cases were never seen again.
- Money raised was being used for funerals and school fees rather than investment to generate wealth.
- The discipline of following the program and achieving sobriety with spiritual growth must be the Number One issue.
- To this end “Step Meetings” should be kept separate from “Business Meetings”.
- Business meetings could then be optional for those who wish to invest money into projects, distinct from the small sums of money gathered merely for refreshments.
- New groups must be formed for healthy functioning. These should comprise old as well as new members.
The essential role of the pastors – Johnstone Kapa and Stephen Nambako – in maintaining the proper running and development of the recovery groups is very evident.