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'Prevention is better than cure...'

Brother Joe Gilleece with young abstainers after a meeting in Bolgatanga.
Brother James Debuo-Der with enthusiastic young people in Bolgatanga.

Date: 19 Apr 2014

Brother Joe Gilleece, a Presentation Brother missionary in Ghana, has sent us this account of how the Brothers in Bolgatanga are offering some hope to young people this Easter.

"One of the serious problems in Bolgatanga in northern Ghana is alcoholism. One parish priest told me that in the last year 12 young people died in his parish as a result of alcohol. It is more than speculation to say that the same is true of 13 other parishes in the diocese.  Local beer known as pito is brewed in the homes, so children have easy access to alcohol at a tender age, but pito is not the worst! It is the home made spirit drink, apatashie, that is more destructive. It is destructive of the liver: it is highly addictive and is relatively cheap.

Our Brothers here in the Tom O’Connor Community in Bolgatanga have tried to establish Alcoholics Anonymous. We have only been relatively successful, as there is a lot of relapsing. At one AA meeting we decided to take the advice of the ancient adage “Prevention is better than cure.” The strategy we chose was to establish Total Abstinence Clubs in the schools, targeting teenagers. Br. James Debuo Der is the founder of this Club and the brain behind the initiative: he has written a constitution for the club. The Club so far is relatively successful.  He has established the Club in the Teachers Training College. 50 students have taken the lifelong pledge to refrain from alcohol, to wear the Total Abstinence badge in public and to recite the heroic offering twice daily. He has had similar success in the minor seminary and other schools.

Brother James has spoken on the local radio three times about the need for the club and its objectives and has had very favourable reaction from listeners, indeed some promising donations to help the cause."