The headquarter of 'Betania' in Mstów is not a big estate with two houses, situated at Leśna street. And, indeed, a forest is looking into it at the distance of a small asphalt road. Two houses further and there are big fields. Life is bustling behind a wooden fence. Autumn wind rises leaves off the ground, raked by young men, in fact boys. On the last days of the autumn warmth, one can hear talks, clatter of plates and pots through open windows. In the kitchen there are preparations for dinner. On higher floors floor is being swept, dishes are being washed and washing machines are working. The area is disposed with a folia tunnel, in which the last lettuces are getting green. Vegetable beds take some free space in the middle of the centre.

The Catholic Rehabilitation and Re-adaptation Centre 'Betania' serves to people addicted to drugs, regardless of their age and sex. From the age of 18 upwards, but there are most young people: pupils, students, workers. A wide social and professional range, from a doctor of two specialization to an unemployed. Among them there are people artistically, musically, theatrically talented (theatre classes are run by a psychologist Rafał Kowalski). Proteges get here not only a piece of their life, but also their works. In the space of the garden sculptured masks draw attention made by a protege of 'Betania' - a student of Fine Art Academy, a chapel of Pensive Jesus - also a work of a member of 'Betania'. A portrait of the Pope and the figure of Merciful Jesus, being in the chapel, were embroidered by mum of one of the proteges of the centre. In the living room a picture of St. Sebastian draws attention as well as monumental piano, used during the community meetings. A stained glass with a pigeon symbolizing the Holy Spirit in the window of the chapel was made by the Pośpieszalscy family being in friendship with the centre. It was because of this beautiful stained glass that the chapel is the only room which has not got a changed window, because there were fears of damaging it.

Małgorzata Praszczyk, a specialist of therapy for addicted people, working in 'Betania' for 16 years, is showing us the centre. Our walk is being interrupted by several phone calls. Applications for the centre are coming from whole Poland. The last ones were from Szczecin. Already three people are waiting for the therapy for addicted people. They can come only when there is a vacant place or when somebody finishes therapy. During our presence such a situation took place. One of the protégés of the centre resigned from her therapy after two months. - Stay in our centre is voluntary. We do not keep protégés by force. After all, it is seen that the centre is open, there is a small fence, there is a forest behind the fence, so if they want they can leave the centre whenever they want to.

However, motivation for therapy in the centre is rarely voluntary. - Parents force their children for therapy, as well as a hopeless situation or a court, when somebody has committed a crime. They have a choice: therapy in the centre or a prison - says the director of the centre Kazimierz Jarzębski. - They are scared of imprisonment, so they come to us - he adds. The program of therapy is realized during 12-15 months. Therapy is a decision that somebody wants to reject his addiction. Unfortunately, these motivations are often dubious. Therapy is finished by 25-40 percent of patients. - But every motivation is good when somebody stops taking - says Mr. Kazimierz. - Every motivation can be reformulated: from by force into a decision. If it is possible, people come out of their addictions - he emphasizes. An aspect of reduction damages is also important. Time spent in the centre allows for prolonging life. After all it is a break in taking - he adds.

A nice smell leads to a kitchen. Two girls and a chef Oktawian are preparing a meal in the kitchen. - Every day different people cook, shifts are written out. Everyone must wash, tidy up, cook, and do this all for 28 people - explains Małgorzata. When we are eating pancakes with chocolate-jam filling, Oktawian receives our thanks with a wide smile. Today, on three frying pans 90 pancakes, plus a few extra, are going to be fried. - Among protégés once there were real cooks and what dinners there were! - Małgorzata is laughing. In the kitchen more and more people are appearing. I am wondering if it is us who draw their attention or the smell coming out of the kitchen, indeed it is dinner time.

The Catholic Rehabilitation -Readaptation Centre for Addicted People 'Betania' was the first one to be established in Poland. Its founders are, among the others, Piotr Pieczewski, Fr. Antoni Długosz, Dr. Marek Sternalski. It was established thanks to determination of some people, including Fr. Antoni Długosz then, who is the current auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Częstochowa now. Proteges of 'Betania' call him Bibunia, because the Priest Bishop addresses all members of the 'Betania' so. - If it had not been for him, there would not be 'Betania' - emphasizes Kazimierz Jarzębski. Even today bishop Długosz celebrates his nameday with protégés of 'Betania', comes to Christmas Eve dinner here and also before the Easter. Delegated by the Polish Episcopal, he has a function of the national pastor of the youth who are not socially adapted. - The Christmas Eve dinner is attended by lots of people. At the table there are not only protégés of the centre, but also ex-proteges who arrive from whole Poland. Many of them were just born in the centre anew, many of them owe their life to 'Betania'- says the director of the centre.

In therapy educators refer to Christian values. Everyday prayer, Holy Mass celebrated once a week by the priest of the center - Fr. Zbigniew Zalejski, as well as retreats and festive meetings give a religious character to the centre, although there are people here who are far away from God. In the group they try to create a community because only people who experienced being addicted can help themselves and others. The base are meetings of the therapeutic community which in 'Betania' are called sharing. This community of experiences united the group and helps survive the worst period. Educators complement the group therapy with individual meetings with protégés and also their families.

Having finished therapy, protégés move to a hostel. The centre has recently established a hostel in the whole house in Stradom in Częstochowa. In order to stay in hostel, one must work. How to find work in the town where there is 20- percent unemployment? - It concerns not people who want to work - emphasizes Mr. Kazimierz. - When after the first weeks of stay in the hostel only two people were working, I told the others that they had two weeks to find work. Otherwise they had to leave the hotel. After a week everybody had work. Professionals - even well -paid work.

The Hostel does not have a contract with the National Health Fund. It is maintained itself. Its protégés, 10 people have to earn money for themselves and to maintain the hostel. - Educators work as volunteers - emphasizes Mr. Kazimierz and, paraphrasing a song of Stanisław Soyka, adds that work with addicted people is not a profession, but life which is not only to take, but in order to live one has to give oneself to others. Therefore, in the centre people of special features and preferences work. - Here one does not work only for eight hours and goes home. Here everyone carries work in themselves - emphasize protégés.

This nice visit in 'Betania' will not deceive a careful observer. Here there is a fight for health and life and not many people win it. They return to their addictions and undertake another fight, strengthening their will to exist in abstinence with help of therapists and testimonies of their colleagues. Bishop Długosz calls this attitude heroism. Unfortunately, the problem of drug-addiction is growing. Drugs are available everywhere. - A pupil of high junior school does not have to wait for a drug-dealer at school. Drugs are available already on the way to school - says Kazimierz Jarzębski. - In summer evenings in Alleys of Blessed Mary the Virgin in Częstochowa sometimes one can smell smoked marijuana.

The culture of drug-taking is spread by idols of mass culture, who thoughtlessly speak about non-harmlessness of smoking marijuana and mock at the Polish law, taking a pack of drugs addressed to their dog. A mature adult can say that marijuana will not bring him harm. Little will bring them harm at their age, but 12-13 year-olds listening to them are killed by marijuana - emphasizes the director of the centre. It works differently in the organism of an adult and in the organism of a child. A young organism can be easily ruined by drugs or alcohol. Drug-taking by younger and younger people raises much anxiety among educators of 'Betania' who see the consequences of addictions every day.


"Niedziela" 50/2013

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl