Dec 1, 2020
Kachin Rebirth and Rehabilitation Center for Women
The Rebirth Rehab Center for Women with addictions is being proposed by Columban Father Eamon Sheridan. It will be the first of its kind in Kachin State - Photo: Fr Eamon Sheridan
For Catholics and Christians of all denominations, This is a wonderful time to pause and give thanks for all of the gifts we have received from our loving God. As we look forward to the beginning of Advent, we begin to spiritually prepare for the birth of the Christ child at Christmas.
I am reminded that there is great suffering and hardship throughout the world, and in our missions. The situation in Myanmar is only one example. Columban Fr Eamon Sheridan has been a missionary in Myanmar for many years and says, “We are doing 'ok' here. All Masses have been cancelled. The effect on the local economy has been disastrous. Most people have little or no income. Relief agencies and churches are providing assistance to the neediest. If you came to Myitkyina you would think on the surface everything is somewhat normal. But scratch a little bit beneath the surface and many people are suffering. One of the things that often strikes me is if someone gets sick, the choice is between food or medication. Of course, they choose food, and so many die young.
"Drug and alcohol addiction is endemic in Kachin and Shan states where I work. It is tearing society apart, and it is no exaggeration to say that every family has somebody addicted to drugs (mostly heroin and amphetamines). Although drug addiction is rife across all strata of society, for cultural and social reasons the epidemic among women is hidden. There is no facilities in Kachin state to offer recovery programs to women. In response to this fundamental human rights and health void, the Columban Rebirth and Recovery Center (RRC) offers a program for women, which began in the middle of the global pandemic. This may seem foolhardy to some, but I am heartened and inspired that our co-founder, Bishop Edward Galvin started our missionary Society during equally difficult times back in 1918.
"This will be a first in Kachin state. Women will have an opportunity to engage in a program that offers them a return to long-term sobriety, a release from the exploitative conditions (including sexual exploitation and human trafficking) and regaining their health, quality of life, and a sense of dignity and self-worth".
"We provide a client-focused recovery program for women, based on the program we have for men. We will incorporate Daily Mass, adoration, Prayer, Meditation, Faith Sharing and Bible Reading.
Columban Fr. Eamon Sheridan with a graduate of his 12-step program for men. He hopes to do the same for women - Photo: Fr Eamon Sheridan
"This will be a first in Kachin state. Women will have an opportunity to engage in a program that offers them a return to long-term sobriety, a release from the exploitative conditions including sexual exploitation and human trafficking and regaining their health, quality of life, and a sense of dignity and self-worth. The long-term goal is that the women will be reintegrate into their families and communities and bring with them the message of hope that a path for recovery is available to those who want to start that journey. These recovering women will be examples to other women and men in their communities that recovery is possible. The building up of a group of sober women who can then help others who suffer from addiction will be a fundamental change of immeasurable value in Kachin state.
"I have been a Columban priest for 33 years, and I have never been more passionate about a project. I am firmly convinced this is God's work and the work of our benefactors."
Fr. Eamon's faith and conviction in doing God's work no matter what the circumstances is what your dedicated support makes possible. It is only in partnership with friends like you that Columban missionaries can bring the Light and Love of Christ to the poor, the incarcerated, and those suffering with addiction. Now more than ever, the assistance of our benefactors helps us to support those most in need. You can be assured that when Columban missionaries pause and give thanks this year, we give thanks to our benefactors for their faithful support so our Columbans can continue God's work.
Columban Fr. John Burger is the Director of the U.S. Region.