Sahara House, New Delhi, India
In response to your challenge about posting ‘moreponderings’ Age, and Darrens worries about me being in rehab (lol), here’s a post that’s been circling, like a goldfish in my head for a little while.’It’s long, but i hope you enjoy!
I call it, ‘some ponderings from the foot of the tree that was once a mustard seed??’ (hehe)
O.K. for those of you who are followers of the life and career of Dave Andrews (Christianarchy) Sahara House in New Delhi, India probably rings a few bells.
It’s ‘therapeutic community’ for intravenous drug users and individuals with HIV / AIDS. It started out with a group of Christians, 30 years ago, inviting a handful of IV drug users to their home for a family dinner.
They got personally involved with marganilised people, and everything changed.
What evolved became known as ?Sahara House? and is now run almost entirely by ex (and current!) drug users who have found rehabilitation through the Sahara community.
The center doesn?t emphasize getting off drugs to go back to a nice peaceful life or secure job – it emphasizes getting off drugs to take your part in changing the world!Likewise, Sahara doesn?t run dry, public-health-MA-designed programs, it runs stuff thought up by users themselves.
And this is where the stories of inspiration start flowing.
Take for instance the band. Sahara is arguably the only rehab center in India with it’s own rock band! The Doors, Roses, Beatles, U2, Nirvana ? you can find it all next week at a united nations convention on HIV/AIDS where the band has regular gigs.
On the aids awareness front, they have just cut their first cd featuring a love song they wrote about ‘Jane and ‘John’ and the need to use condoms, to be distributed at a gig they had at a New Delhi University.
They are also the only rehab center with their own semi-professional soccer team who have taken out national titles in their category and play in a league that promotes aids awareness.
In house, there are the Friday night rooftop coffee nights to ?sweat out? the drugs (through dancing) and the house tradition of entrusting the daily money for food and provisions to a current rehab patient to go out and get the supplies of for the day. A friend who is now Sahara ?program co-coordinator? describes the moment when he was trusted with Rs.400 to go and buy vegetables and rice for lunch for everyone at the center, as a breakthrough moment in his rehab and his life.
Of course some days, the community members have gone hungry, but it’s a risk deemed worth taking.
Then there are the programs to help those in the community outside the rehab doors.
One of the most touching mornings recently, was rocking up at the front door of the rehab center, only to see one of the current ?patients? I knew well, walking out.
He was carrying a plastic bag with some clothes in it and I was worried he had given up.
In reality, he had been drafted to be on the Sahara ?drama team? performing street theatre that educates people who don’t understand basic health concepts about HIV/AIDS and safe injecting practices in the outside community.
The plastic bag contained his costume.
His first morning out of rehab and this guy was back on the streets with the outreach workers!
The last anecdote I will share is a personal story that has kept me awake at night and given Christ a new face for me.
Recently (monday) one of the guys who is just completing his (3 month) rehab, started working as a care worker encouraging and supporting other addicts. He had originally intended to look for a job in the outside community (this is a professional, guy from a rich family, etc) but chose, instead to work for Sahara as a way of paying back some of the money spent on him.
You see he is HIV positive and the drugs that he needs to prolong his life (Anti retro-viral drugs or ARV?s) are fucking expensive. The Indian government has promised to provide them free (and been given grants to do so) but hasn?t as yet, come through on that promise, and so, other than the ultra rich, most positive Indians suffer and die of AIDS, long before their time.
Through his family, connections, etc, this guy probably could have afforded ARV, but as, as he explained to me, majority of HIV positive India do not have access to these drugs, and until the government changes the situation, he is forfeiting his right to take them.
Forfeiting his right?..!
He has been positive for 9 years and most of the people who contracted HIV in the same year as him in India, are dead.
Friends and family have been pleading with him for years to take ARV, but he has refused, up until now, at which point he has found out that his physical condition has deteriorated to such an extent that he needs a different type of ARV which are stronger (and of course more expensive) to live.
He has decided to start taking the stronger drugs and Sahara has offered to sponsor him for as long as he needs to be on them (until he dies).
And so, after refusing treatment to stand in solidarity with those who don?t have a choice, now in the worst physical condition he has ever been in, he is ?going back to work? full time, with addicts and other positive guys, to pay off his own treatment.
?Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for a friend???
Yesterday, in my diary I wrote;
?…sometimes i am so overwhelmed by the strength and courage and inspiration that surrounds me that i forget i am in a drug rehab center, then i go to the toilet and realise someone has stolen the taps……..?
pretty much sums it up really!!!
In answer to your question Age, I?m not here to nurse or help or anything, just to build relationships and share experiences and get involved (in the spirit, I hope, of those who started Sahara).
And Darren, your question about rehab.
Yeah, I’m in rehab. All those around me are getting rehabilitated from heroin and deep rooted feelings of loveless ness and worthlessness. I am being rehabilitated from cynicism, bitterness and a line of thinking that says God gave up around the same time that Hillsongs opened their new convention center.
I was wrong.??
Hope this blog isn’t too massive, love to hear your thoughts. Signing out for now!!
Inspired Young Thing!