Drugs and Prostitution Non Governmental Organization/Women Rehab Centre and Women’s Rights

Situated on the west coast of Mauritius in the town of Bambous, Chrysalide is working for a better future and for those matter better prospects for women with drug and alcoholism addiction issues. Largely and fore mostly a rehabilitation centre for women and their children who have in most part suffered from substance abuse whether it is drugs or alcohol.

The centre, which calls the victims of substance abuse “residents” have in some cases been engaged in prostitution. Some residents at the same time are HIV positive, a symptom which is all too common and repeated worldwide with women engaged in the sex working trade, specifically when drugs are combined.

Chrysalide mainly focuses on the human development of its residents, through identifying the distinct problems facing the residents in terms of alcoholism and drugs. Their field of work lies in gender related issues that come with the “baggage” of substance abuse as with the overall prevention of its residents falling into more rapid and sustainable abuse of drugs and alcohol.

Care, treatment and support is provided to achieve detoxification of their residents, which for most part is an end result of what Chrysalide is objectively and persistently trying vigorously to achieve.

Largely seen as a “growing epidemic” in Mauritius when it comes to women from less affluent or poverty stricken areas of Mauritian society, drugs, alcoholism and prostitution are the social malaise of poor women in the country. It is for this very reason that Chrysalide openly accepts women and their children who are adversely affected by drugs and alcohol and who may fall into prostitution.

The organization provides counselling, vocational education and social rehabilitation. One way Chrysalide does this is by a program called the Genogram, also known as McGoldrick-Gerson study, this program is widely used at Chysalide as a tool to map past or historic personal issues in reference to their residents on a psychological level.

Chrysalide uses this study theory to act as a visualization tool for hereditary patterns and psychological factors that hinder the state of mind or perceptions of its residents. It also helps the residents realise where they are, where they are going and also to show them where the problems may lie in accordance to  not just substance abuse and alcoholism, but in their life holistically.

The Genogram is ultimately a implemented measure to create awareness amongst the residents. It goes further to say that Chrysalide is actively involved in helping the residents in problems of the psychological human state in reference to drugs and alcoholism and yet at the same time, for Chysalide and its staff, the Genogram is a measure of progress in which the ruler is the Genogram.

Chrysalide was formed in 2003 and for the past seven years has been combating drug addiction, alcoholism and women’s rights in Mauritian society, a society which largely frowns upon these issues. The centre employs over seven people fulltime and part time with a list of volunteers on their roster. The organization receives considerable funding from the European Union and also a program, which is enacted by law by the
Mauritian government, called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Through Mauritian government policy the (CSR) program enlists specific obligations by law on the Mauritian private sector businesses to pay two per cent of their annual profit to non –governmental organizations engaged in social development or social work like that of Chrysalide.

Simultaneously the Corporate Social Responsibility Program is fostering links between the corporate world and social advocacy in some way, certainly for the future of women’s rights and issues. The organization has received various awards, notably one that was received from UNDP-United Nations Development Program, the Red Ribbon Award a joint consortium of UN agencies working on social change internationally.

Chrysalide also endeavours to teach their residents at a vocational level in various subjects. Computer lessons are given, gardening, farming activities and occupational activities or chores are undertaken at the centre. Coupled with excursions, this indeed gives the residents a sense of belonging within  community, that of being part of society in a normal and practical way, whether that may be in the “working world” or in terms of employment and re-integration in Mauritian society.

The organization focuses on group therapy and workshops that are run on every week, they do this with the diligent assistance of their dedicated staff and volunteers, in which they meet either objectives to eradicate substance abuse among there residents.

The Head of Chrysalide, Marlene Ladine, stated that “traditionally drugs and alcoholism was a men’s issue, but that has all changed now. In Mauritius there is a growing problem of drug addiction amongst women in due part related to societal pressures”. She explains that for women especially in the poorer sections of society in Mauritius it is a problem.

She further goes on to state “it is a combination of problems that contribute to women’s social issues”. Marlene says that in terms of drugs and alcoholism and the residents who seek help from Chrysalide “education is important and that of the cycle of education, awareness has to be created first, these drug and alcohol problems just make the situation worse as they compound the existing issues”.

She points out that human development of women is first and foremost, human development is essential for the women residents. She adds that “society’s competitions make these even worse for women”.

Marlene indicates that the issues surrounding women in accordance to substance abuse solely do not lie in just drug addiction and the infliction it creates, there is a state of mind behind the causes of it.

Marlene openly suggests that the root causes that underlie and undermine for that matter women’s social progression in today’s society is not enough women’s empowerment and education, certainly in the poorer regions of the country, this hinders the progress of women. With the fact that the background of the resident is important in a historical sense.

She states “parents do not understand fully in the poorer communities and they are unaware of children’s development”. This inevitably may led to the unfortunate fact that as these female children grow up and become older and become women, there is a lack of awareness within them individually in what they are doing in life, with no direction or “life map” and with the absence of education in a social sense are then thrown into the direction of substance abuse.

Marlene goes on further to state “confidence and the real human experience together with the empowerment of women are very important to tackle the issues of drugs and alcoholism in Mauritius. She outlines as well in a “contrast of sorts” that mere poverty alone is not the full reason why drugs and alcohol are prevalent among women here.

Certainly there may be a link between poverty and drugs but as Marlene points out in a conversation about the links of poverty and substance abuse in Mauritius she says “there is no difference between rich and poor apart from the financial issues”. She does believe that the main issues are in the psychological and that of the human development of the resident.

Money is not the fundamental cause or the “root of evil” here but money or financial issues magnify the existing problem in residents; put this together with drugs and alcohol and to some extent prostitution, give you an unfavourable result so to speak.

Marlene states further about the subject by saying “there is a poverty problem, but there is no human development”, it’s in this that problems do occur, for the reason that the lack or absence of human development is contributing to women’s poverty and/or social degradation of women, and most certainly personality degradation.

Through Marlene’s work at Chrysalisde and that of here staffs work, she expressed concerns about the Mauritian society as a whole in terms of it being quite materialistic in view and of perception, with the burgeoning fact that it is quite consumer driven society now and as that as Mauritius “grows” economically, social issues like that of drugs, alcoholism and prostitution may take a “back seat”or be left behind when it comes to women’s rights and issues.

She stated “people are conscious of the drug and alcoholism problem, but are distracted by economic and henceforth material gain”. She further makes a point in question and says “the society of Mauritius is more preoccupied, it is a new society being formed and Mauritius is in a period of transition”. Marlene adds that “there is a contradiction of financial gain opposed to social values”.

Chrysalide’s mission and philosophy is to help and empower women who are trapped in the vicious cycle of substance abuse outlining their trademark philosophy which is to “to open up the silence and suffering of the individual residents and to help them rebuild their personal lives for the better and give them back a sense of social dignity”.

The centre was the first of its kind in Mauritius to offer rehabilitation for women with drug related alcohol problems and inflictions. The organization is seen to be quite unique and progressive in the treatment of women’s substance abuse issues and that the organization concentrates on the grassroots or foundation of social issues instead of the symptoms of drug abuse alone, they are largely preventative in an objective way.

The work that is taken out by Chrysalide and by its staff is a very crucial one indeed. Identifying the distinct problems facing the residents and coming to a solution through mediation and that of therapy via the aid of workshops within groups of affected residents. It is through this that Chrysalide forges one on one contact with the residents inflicted by drugs and alcoholism.

The workshops, largely centering on discussion of topics such as values, family, stresses of daily life and drugs to name a few. The workshops also provide a consultation to the residents. They discuss the various difficulties they may have in their lives, giving moral support and giving feedback in a subjective manner but at the same time being objective in helping the residents cope with their challenges.

The Chrysalide staff, who act as the group leaders give timely support and remediate through a consultative process. In affect the group leaders empower and give confidence back as to also restore dignity and self-belief to change the residents “ways” or lifestyle choices, but not just their behavioral patterns towards drugs and alcohol but in some ways to bring back there sense of self and that of being a women.

It is through their group leaders that the centre fosters awareness and to re-install resident’s lives affected by substance abuse and alcoholism. They certainly have a real genuine interest in not just helping them in a generic way, but changing and transforming the residents lives for the better. Field work and outreach programs are held at the centre as well.

In addition Chrysalide actively involves the University of Mauritius in a voluntary role. The university students and residents to come together in doing various activities, like that of dancing and singing and to find out what the organization is all about, and to a large extent create awareness of what goes on at Chrysalide.

Participation of the university students together with the centre’s residents gives understanding for the students through advocacy and awareness for them. For the students it gives and provides both real world experience and presents them with the social issues present today in Mauritian society.  For the residents of Chrysalide it gives them a sense of community and the feeling of belonging, not just at the centre but belonging to society as well and not an “outsider”.

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