NADA Philippines Goes to Fazenda da Esperanҫa-Masbate

Last July 29, 2014, a group of five Acupuncture Detoxification Specialists (ADSes) from NADA-Philippines travelled to a rehabilitation facility in the island of Masbate to give treatment to the recovering substance users currently housed there. They stayed for four days and treated a total of forty patients, which is composed of the substance users and the volunteers in the facility.

The rehabilitation facility, the Fazenda da Esperanҫa or Farm of Hope, is run by Brazilian missionaries. It was first established in 1983 at Guaratatinguá, Sao Paulo, Brazil, when a man named Nelson took to heart gospel that was read during Mass one day: “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” At first, he invited some of the drug addicts that he passed by on his way to work to a meditation group. But as the number swelled, they moved to a house donated by the parish priest, Fr. Hans Staple, and then to a huge tract of land donated by a generous landowner, living together as a community as they found a new way of living.

In 1988, the first Fazenda outside Brazil was established in Germany. Soon, other Fazenda centers were established in other countries like Paraguay, Russia, Mexico and Guatemala, Mozambique. Currently, there are Fazenda centers in over ten countries, with 2,000 boys and girls undergoing rehabilitation, and 20,000 graduates worldwide.

The first Fazenda in Asia was inaugurated in 2003 in the Philippines, in a small town of Bangad, Milagros in the island of Masbate, through the efforts of a parish priest, Fr. Pierino Rogliardi. The Fazenda da Esperanҫa-Masbate houses up to 42 boys at a time. In 2008, a separate house for girls was set up in the area, which can accommodate up to 20 girls at a time. The boys and girls who come to the Fazenda for rehabilitation aren’t charged for anything. They are nevertheless required to surrender their personal belongings, save for their clothes, as they embark on a year-long communal living in the farm. They are also required to undergo a process of detoxification prior to entry.

In Fazenda da Esperanҫa, the boys and girls are guided by three pillars: manual work, community life and spirituality. Manual work is divided into different sectors, such as vegetable gardening, the milking of the cows, the production of mozzarella cheese and bottled flavoured milk, the bakery, etc., and there is a regular rotation of tasks. The boys and girls practice community living through their daily interactions in and out of work, in their sharing of experiences and realizations in the evenings, and in their accounting of the fruits of their labor, as this finances the whole operations in the Fazenda. The emphasis in spirituality, which takes the form of regular Mass attendance, the reading, and understanding, living and sharing the words of the gospel, has been noted by the facilitators and the Fazenda boys and girls as the thing that sets Fazenda da Esperanҫa apart from other rehabilitation facilities.

Through the talks with Mr. Macoy dela Cruz, one of the facilitators in the Fazenda, and with some of the boys, it became apparent that the pillar of spirituality, as well as the promotion of openness and trust among the boys, girls and the facilitators, shared similarities with the NADA Spirit. Both acknowledge that the recovery or the realization of the potential of a person is a deeply personal affair, which can be assisted by rebuilding the connection with other people in the form of mutual trust and the desire to help each other in the journey, and also the connection with nature and spirituality.

At the time when the NADA team came to Fazenda-Masbate, there were twenty-two boys and twelve girls being rehabilitated. The team gave four treatments to the boys, and three treatments to the girls, and also to the six caretakers/volunteers in the houses. Nine of the boys had been at the Fazenda for three months or less, while most of the girls were nearing the end of the one-year rehabilitation.

The 22 boys with histories of substance abuse (commonly shabu, marijuana and alcohol), had ages ranging from 18-54, with the majority of them in their 30s/40s. Almost half of them (10) came from Cebu. During the course of the four-day treatment, many reported a decrease in frequency of night-time urination (which had often disturbed their sleep). Some have reported the resurgence of bad memories (e.g. the time when they had been using drugs, family problems, etc.) in the form of bad dreams. A patient who had been admitted to Fazenda just 3 days prior reported a “hastening of the withdrawal process,” and less seizures. Most reported better sleep, increase in appetite and the easing of pains and aches. Some also reported becoming more energized, to the point of doing laundry during midnight.

The 12 girls with histories of substance abuse (commonly cigarette, alcohol, marijuana, shabu and rugby), had ages ranging from 16-26, with the majority of them in their teenage years. More than half of them (7) came from Cebu. Most of the girls have had a history of sexual abuse, and were generally more somber than the Fazenda boys. Their common complaints were UTI and ulcer. During the course of the three-day treatment, most reported better sleep and the feeling of warmth in the body. Two reported their urine has changed from orange/yellow to clear. Other reported effects were better bowel movement and the easing of aches and pains.

After the last treatment, the Fazenda girls expressed their gratitude by singing songs and presenting a letter to the NADA team.

On the last day, the NADA team was able to speak with Mr. Richardson Pereira, one of the Brazilian missionaries in-charge of Fazenda-Philippines. Mr. Pereira has expressed openness in incorporating the NADA protocol in their rehabilitation program, and to have some of their volunteers trained.

The NADA team was led by Janet Paredes, and composed of Miren Sun, JJ Posadas, Trisha Sanijon and Ace Babasa.

Fazenda da Esperanҫa-Philippines and NADA-Philippines are now partners.

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