The Vatican Ambassador to Seychelles visited the island nation recently pledging more support and cooperation in the fight against drugs, responding to President Wavel Ramkalawan's request for support following his accreditation earlier this year.
In March, the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Tomasz Grysa, held discussions with the head of state, which revolved around addressing social ills such as drug abuse and drug trafficking.
"It was he himself who asked the Church if something could be done. So, I told him that I already have experiences in other countries that I can present to the Seychelles. It is for this reason that we presented the idea to the local church and we will also speak with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other ministries," explained Grysa.
The Roman Catholic Apostolic Nuncio did exactly this during his second visit to Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, in August. Grysa shared their experiences in relation to drug addiction and recovery by presenting a strategy being used for rehabilitation mainly "The Farm of Hope."
This method, which has proven to be effective and successful, was initiated by the Roman Catholic mission in the Diocese of Brazil, in the early 1980s, helping many addicts to recover from addiction and to be reintegrated into society.
During his visit Grysa also met and presented this concept with Seychelles' Minister of Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Sylvestre Radegonde, who reiterated that the fight against drugs and the rehabilitation of addicts is at the heart of national priorities and requires the support of all partners, a press release from the ministry stated.
Grysa, who was accompanied by the Bishop Emeritus of Porto Nacional of Brazil, Romualdo Kujawskihe, who is well experienced in the field, said that "The Farm of Hope" offers an experience that changes the whole person.
The bishop added that "through the meetings and consultations we had with the various organisations concerned, we can conclude that we had a good reception to start this cooperation."
Radegonde said: "When we manage to overcome this challenge of consumption and addiction and ensure integration by means other than drugs, it will be a great message that we will send to the rest of the world to tell them that change is possible."
In a meeting at the Saint Esprit Church of the Perseverance district, Grysa said "The Farm of Hope" is a therapeutic community "for all those who have problems with drug addiction. It is a community founded in Brazil and that is why we have Bishop Romualdo Kujawski, the collaborating bishop, to share his experience."
Bishop Grysa added that there are already 150 such communities in the world and in the region, including in Mozambique, Kenya and South Africa.
According to the Division for Substance Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation in Seychelles, in October 2022, there were 4,267 clients on the various programmes it offers. Around 99 have successfully completed the programmes and 2,771 are still active - meaning they are maintaining their appointments and treatment - while the rest have defaulted and are irregular.
SNA spoke to the Head of the Catholic Church Diocese of Seychelles, Bishop Alain Harel, who said that the concept of "The Farm of Hope" and its feasibility here is yet to be fully presented and discussed with the clergy of the diocese. This is expected to be done later in September.
If implemented, the programme will target people from 18 to 59 years of age who need to willingly join the 12-month programme. Working on the farm is also part of the rehabilitation, which is based on three pillars: coexistence, work and spirituality.
Coexistence; where love and unity are experienced as a family; the work where each member of the community works for the food they consume daily to empower the project; and the spirituality that gives meaning and direction to their lives moving forward on the path of healing.