The Old City Counseling Centre (OCCC), a project of Caritas Jerusalem combating drug abuse in the Holy Land, celebrated the occasion of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking last Tuesday, at the Jerusalem YWCA with a conference promoting a drug-free lifestyle. This event drew more than 400 participants including young people, social workers, educational, civic, and governmental leaders and OCCC staff and volunteers. All in attendance addressed the conference with individual speeches pointing to the importance of working together to fight this societal disease. The discussions ranged from general comments on the rising drug problem in Palestinian society to the need to decrease drug use by spreading awareness, especially in the youth sector. Of particular concern was the fact that drug use is now finding a foothold among younger groups of children and this is causing serious social and psychological problems to them and their families. For those who were already involved in drugs and seeking a way out, a number of people commented on the importance of treatment, follow-up and rehabilitation. In this regard, our own OCCC Outreach officer spoke on behalf of all the recovery addicts that our centre has helped and the role that the OCCC has played in assisting them before, during and after completing their rehabilitative drug treatment program. Representing the governmental sector position, a representative from the Ministry of High Education mentioned the role that the ministry takes in providing education to help prevent young people from starting to use drugs and the role of education and counseling against drug use in schools. The need for cooperation and coordination between the various non-governmental institutions as well as the government bodies to work together and fight this problem was highlighted. It was seen that a collective effort in this regard was essential to any successful program. All of the speakers present commended the OCCC for the role it is playing and for the constructive actions taken by the center to help address this growing problem. During the event, OCCC opened an exhibition documenting what our educational programs against drug use have achieved. This exhibition especially highlighted the work on the OCCC's staff and its volunteers. Performances and songs were presented by children and volunteers. At the end of the event, the OCCC's director, Charlie Jabaji, gave certificates of completion for those who took part in one of the center's group activities such as group therapy; leadership groups; and women's groups. Source: Caritas
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