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Bain & Grants Town Urban Renewal Project: Prevention, Intervention, Education and Demand Elimination
By Joseph Darville Co-Chairman, Bahamas National Drug Council
Sep 27, 2012 - 11:38:57 AM

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The following are remarks made by Joseph Darville, Co-Chairman, Bahamas National Drug Council on
Tuesday, September 25, 2012:

Prevention, Intervention, Education and Demand Elimination - These four corner stones of the drug use and abuse fortification, namely prevention, intervention, education and demand reduction,  have had minimal success over the past thirty-three years.  One can deduce this fact from the multitude of teens now involved in the drug market as users, carriers and dealers.  Of course the related drug wars, turf wars, guns and murders speak clearly to the losing battle in this small nation in which many of our youth have perished.

The only option we now seem to have is to make every attempt to fortify our youth, beginning at a very early age against this fertile epidemic.  Older teens and adults are virtually unapproachable, or difficult to reach or treat, and thus we continue to lose numerous individuals to the ravages of drug use and abuse, and the associated violence, which comes with it.

Beginning at infancy and continuing through high school years, we have a very captive audience to whom we can get our message across. However, the scholastic curriculum is already overburdened, and it would be unreasonable to demand or expect teachers to deal with this escalating societal tragedy of drug use,  and the addiction that so often results. It is the task of the family, community, church and intervention entities, like the Urban Renewal which will fortify and preserve our children; and, therefore,  allow teachers to do what they do best, teach.

Alcohol and marijuana are the drugs of choice and they are now infiltrating into the lower levels of our schools, even at the primary.  We all know and have witnessed that our youth are readily influenced by their peers; and it is for this very reason that all of us, parents, teachers, friends and family, must act as responsible role models to the youth of our nation. If we hope, then. to ever get the message across that drugs and crime are not only a waste of time, but a denial of our God-shared divinity, we must have trained ambassadors among the young to become the main influential messengers on this journey back to a drug free nation.  While I realize that no nation will ever be drug free, certainly we can take the appropriate steps to reduce the alarmingly high rate of usage. One less teen on drugs is still a victory in my eyes.

Just this past June, the Bahamas National Drug Council,  Ministry of Health, and the United States Embassy sponsored a Peer Leadership camp for over thirty junior high students at the Defense Force Base here in Nassau, under the theme: Drugs and Crime Are a Waste of Time. The camp which was held between June 23 and 30, was one of the most impressive I have ever had the privilege in which to assist.  Over the years I have experienced on many occasions the versatility of young people, a group which seems to be endowed with special wisdom and free and open intelligence. Their special  gifts are indicative of the new and dynamic expression of the rapid evolution of the human kind, especially coming to light through our youth.  Their level of creativity and swiftness of comprehension, along with their ability to access amazing and apt expressions ‘on the fly’ (effortlessly),  can leave one in total awe and admiration.

Undoubtedly they and others to join them are the ones who will recalibrate our society and return it to a nation of peace and serenity, where drugs, crime and violence will no longer be the order of the day. These young persons, whom we now signify as Peer Ambassadors, possess all the necessary tools, mental, spiritual, psychological and social, to welcome the Kingdom of God on Earth in every level of our society. They will now enter the schools, communities and churches to do what children do best, influence others, and they will do so in a very positive way. In every constituency, we must train the best in every generation to be standard bearers.

In recent times, the Bahamas National Drug Council has been apparently mistreated by successive government administrations, whether intentionally or not.  On the one hand it has been charged with and has accepted mammoth tasks involving education, prevention, intervention and demand reduction, as they relate to the use and abuse of illegal substances; and, on the other hand it has been drastically underfunded by the government, even having  its already insufficient budget recently reduced  to an inappropriate level. Consequently, the vast number of necessary programs which are presently in place  are nearly close to being discontinued due to inadequate funding.  And were it not for the good graces of the United States Embassy, we would be in even more dire straits.

In recent times, in spite of the policies which are outlined in the Bahamas National Anti-Drug Plan, the government has been inclined to place much greater  emphasis on interdiction and law-enforcement, to the extent that education, prevention, demand reduction and intervention on the personal level have suffered tremendously, and have lagged dreadfully behind.  The Bahamas National Drug Council, by virtue of its mandate, is effectively responsible for dealing with these areas.  But  these critical areas do not appear to be in the forefront of political importance historically, and so, by and large, they have been by-passed.

Obviously, we are more concerned with pleasing our neighbors to the north, rather than attempting to make our populace drug free. This is a serious indictment on our nation; and even our friends to the north pick up on our attitude in this regard; and this is reflected in their greater interest to assist in generous monetary allocation   for interdiction and law-enforcement, as opposed to supporting the work of the BNDC to a much more significant degree.  The priority of the US is to stop drugs from entering their borders and one cannot blame them for this; but at the same time we become the residual victims of the demand of their populace for the drugs which are trans-shipped through our borders. And we often bear the blame and are then subsequently downgraded if our efforts do not match their critical expectations.

Collaterally, with the scourge of drugs and its consequential infliction on our people, we experience a higher importation of weapons and ammunition from the same neighbor which we are attempting to protect from drugs coming in from the south.  Funny isn’t it, or rather tragic, we don’t produce the drugs  and we don’t manufacture the weapons and ammunition, yet here we are dealing with an unacceptable level of drug use and abuse, as well as a rapidly increasing death rate of our citizenry related to these factors, and, as Bishop Simeon Hall recently stated, “It seems to me that the drug trade in this region would be cut in half if more energy and funding was spent on reducing America’s appetite for these demonic destructive substances.”  I dare say ours will be almost eliminated, murders will significantly decrease, and the importation of guns and ammunition would practically dry up. However, all in all, we cannot blame our seduction by death bearing instruments on any other nation, or attribute our greed for ill-gotten goods and filthy lucre to others.

This cycle of inappropriate attention being paid to our own people, resulting in more and more becoming drug users and addicts, mostly which is due to the lack of sufficient funding for education, prevention and demand reduction programs, has to be broken.  After almost nine million dollars, some in the know say forty, having been confiscated over recent times from drug related charges, not one penny has been invested in these programs for which the BNDC is responsible. I would deem that a colossal mistake, as we are now reaping the consequences.

Hopefully, the  small amount remaining, which is estimated at just under one hundred thousand dollars, will be allocated by the present administration to assist with one of the greatest social issues facing our country, illegal drug use and its vicious results.  This well deserving project of yours is an excellent place to start.

Either by coercion or voluntarily, we have expended enormous sums of money and employed hundreds of our disciplined forces to safeguard the integrity of our neighbours to the north, to the detriment of bolstering our own sovereign domain. But it is satisfying to see this shift taking place.

The priorities are now being reassessed, with the mission to save future generations from total decay from drugs, drug abuse and addiction.  What you are doing today through the auspices of Urban Renewal is absolutely critical to the salvation of our nation and its youth.  Concentration on our “Little Darlings,” a term coined by Mr. Algernon Allen, a former minister of social services, and now co-director of  Urban Renewal, is where we should start, and must concentrate substantial amount of our resources.   We should not presume to call them Our Little Darlings until we as adults, and the entire nation, for that matter, have done everything in our power to safeguard the sanctity of their angelic nature in our land.  They are the rebirth of our godly nation, and in spite of our having failed them miserably, on this issue, and in others as well, we are still responsible to nurture them and elevate them to their supreme human dignity; that quality we should always be proud of in them and in ourselves.

These young persons are more than special; they are the recognized citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, admonition given by no less a supreme being than…Jesus Christ. They may not be able to comprehend the intricate details of drugs and their nefarious effects; but they will absorb, cherish, feel and remember all those aspects shared with them pertaining to their rights and privileges as citizens of God’s Kingdom, thus fortifying them against any insult or invasion of their sacred creation.

Wisdom will flow in through these young people, as we allow them to step with both feet into the ocean of profound experiences , and be re-baptized into the glorious beauty of life, fully embodied in their heart, minds and souls.  They, along with us, must rediscover the outrageous and awesome beauty of life, given to us by our creator and which can be lived moment by moment without any induction of invasive and destructive chemicals. Life so filled with depth and meaning, beauty and joy: this is our natural inheritance.

Your efforts are guaranteed to succeed, for when you begin with the little ones, your intentions are pure and the light, wisdom, knowledge and knowingness of divine and open, creative intelligence will be your armour and fortress.  Your goal will be not just drug education, information, prevention and demand reduction, but total elimination of the scourge from our beautiful Bahamaland.

With unending patience and forbearance, some of us have labored in this field since the late seventies, over 33 years ago. On many occasions we have been tempted to relinquish our efforts, but only God knows where we would be today had we not stuck it out in spite of the numerous challenges, lack of recognition of the magnitude of the problems, and failure by administration after administration to support our efforts with commensurate funding, personnel and resources.

My hope is that the enormity of the situation has now touched the hearts, nerves and conscience of our government and our people, which will result in the necessary measures to reclaim the dignity of our nation and re-establish a totally drug-free society. Narrow-minded  and self-serving political expediency must now give way to the sacred mission to save our future generations. where our children are the most precious natural resource.

Look around you, chances are there maybe  individuals in this audience who may be addicted to or struggling with the effects of legal and illegal substances. Do not underestimate the power of the family in this constant fight. We can provide the serum to what many refer to as a disease, but it is YOU, the father or the mother or the guardian who must administer  the medication, through love and understanding, and by….

Ensuring you do their homework with them each night

Attend as many of their school functions as possible

Same goes for their sporting events, whether within the school system or in a non-scholastic sponsored league

If only you knew how many times I have heard teens whom I have counseled tell me, Mr. Darville, my father was never at any of my basketball games or at PTA, or came to see me at sports day in school.

Children are so impressionable.  They only want to do good in our eyes, to make us proud of them. But that is hard to do sometimes, when a young one’s mother, while standing in line at the bank, is telling her five year old: ‘shut up, before I give you something to cry about’,  and proceeds to do exactly that which creates even more drama.  Then that same child dies a tragic death and she screams and hollers about her ‘good’ child like an opera diva performing her Aria.  My point here, which is maybe a little hard for some, is to spend time with your children in a positive and loving manner.  Always tell them that they can come and speak to you about anything that is on their mind.  Read to them, read with them, have them read to you.  Enable their imaginations.  Reinforce in them that they can achieve their dreams with hard work, perseverance and desire.

You and I are not the future of this country.  Our little darlings are. Never ever forget that .  They are the truly innocent ones.  It is us the adults who are  the real ‘sinners.’  The time has come for all of us to stop being hypocrites, look in the mirror, and ask ourselves, have I done all that I can do to ensure that my child will grow to be a good, loving, respectful and respectable person?

I highly commend and bless your efforts here today and pray that nothing  will be spared in your mission to safeguard the sacredness of our little darlings, our precious angels, so it would be eternally very easy for them to always sing from their hearts:  “BE SMART DON’T START.” WoodCock Primary, Mable Walker Primary and Albury Sayles Primary…. Police officers, Guidance Counselors, and Members from the community, and Church leaders….

…….may you be the lighthouses to brightly show the way for all our citizens   through the treacherous shoals to a bright and glorious future, forward, onward and upward together into the Kingdom of God come on Earth, right here in our beloved Bahamaland.

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