Motivational writer, William Arthur Ward, left this beautiful quote “Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.”
For Jimbo (not his real name), however, curiosity did not lead him to learning, but took him down the path of drug use. This wrong path that he took brought him and his family pain – before he learned his lesson.
“May nakilala ako na isang pusher na nagbebenta ng shabu. Bumili ako sa kanya dahil sa curiosity kung ano ba magiging epekto sa akin ng paggamit ng shabu” (I met a pusher who peddles shabu. I bought from him out of curiosity about the illegal drug’s effects), Jimbo shared.
For Jimbo, everything went downhill after that simple try at taking illegal drugs.
Jimbo’s sister recounted the worst times their family experienced when Jimbo became a person who used drugs (PWUD). Accordingly, Jimbo started stealing from their parents. He even went as far as pretending to be studying but his tuition fee just went to illegal drugs.
She shared that, at first, community members who knew Jimbo was into drugs were hesitant to tell their father, who was then the barangay captain in their village of Pangyan, Davao City.
Jimbo affirmed her sister’s story. He went on to say that being under the influence of illegal drugs brought out the worst in him. He also lost several of his material possessions.
“Nalugi ang negosyo ko at iyong mga naipundar kong gamit at mga alahas ay isa-isang nawala. Nawala rin ang relasyon ko sa pamilya ko. Nasira noong gumagamit ako ng droga” (I lost my business, jewelry, and other material things which I bought. I also lost my good relationship with my family as a result of my drug use), he recalled.
He narrated that he noticed his behavior changed, especially at times when he wanted to use illegal drugs, but had no money to buy some.
“Kapag wala na akong makuhanan ng pera, humihingi na ako sa kapatid ko at sa mama ko. Tapos, ‘pag hindi [sila] nagbigay ay magagalit ako agad” (When I have no more money, I will ask from my sister and mother, and I will get mad if they do not give me anything), he continued.
He was in this deplorable situation for a long time until he started hearing about the anti-illegal drugs campaign of the government. Jimbo started thinking about taking the first step towards change.
Yakap Bayan Program paves the way for change
Jimbo finally decided to stop using illegal drugs.
“Na-realize ko [na] hanggang ganito na lang ba ang kaya kong gawin sa buhay? Paano na lang kaya ang kinabukasan ko?” (I realized my situation and asked myself if this is what I want for my life? What will be my future?), he stated.
When he learned about the Yakap Bayan Program for recovering persons who used drugs (RPWUDs) like him, he took the opportunity to help him reintegrate with his family and community.
“Pinakamahalaga kong natutunan sa Yakap Bayan [Program] ay kung paano pahalagahan ang buhay ng isang tao at hindi natin [ito] dapat aksayahin” (The most important lesson I got from Yakap Bayan Program was to give importance to life and not to waste it), Jimbo said.
YBP is a holistic intervention to assist RPWUDs in their recovery journey from surrendering to aftercare, and social reintegration to their families and communities. It entails the provision of aftercare services, such as relapse prevention sessions, counselling sessions, health and fitness therapy, spiritual interventions, and skills training, among others, to improve the well-being and social functioning of RPWUDs.
Pangyan Barangay Captain, Bartolome Carillo, shared that the RPWUDs were at first scared of undergoing government’s intervention program, but they now see the positive effects of the program on their lives and their families.
From an illegal drug user to a public servant
Pangyan Barangay Kagawad Rogelio Gumban, on the other hand, pointed out that the Yakap Bayan Program was a big help in regaining the trust and confidence of community members for RPWUDs. With the transformative help of the program, RPWUDs, like Jimbo, were given the chance to become respected and active members of the community.
Jimbo was elected as one of the Barangay Councilors in their village, and his advice to stay away from all forms of illegal drugs is primarily for the youth as his advocacy is focused on the prevention of substance use.
Through the Yakap Bayan Program, DSWD envisions a better nation where the communities are free from the influence of illegal drugs.
Further, DSWD emphasizes that the Yakap Bayan Program provides a transformative chance to the RPWUDs, and also ensures a system of interventions to keep the future generation away from illegal drugs, in line with the vision of President Rodrigo Duterte of a drug-free nation.