In our last blog, we heard from one of the Lighthouse Resource Center case managers. This week, Claudia, one of the therapists working with the New Dawn Residential Program shares what is has been like to accompany the boys virtually through their addiction recovery process.
The residents of the New Dawn Residential Program have many meaningful rituals and one of those is an anthem that they recite each morning. This anthem closes with a cry of “NEW LIFE” shouted out with much enthusiasm and strength to start the day. Well now, that phrase came to mind in those moments when they had to return to their homes because of COVID-19 and comply with the home quarantine like everyone else in the country.
I remember the day that we met with them and gave them the news that they had to return home since we needed to prioritize their lives and health. It was a difficult moment, believe it or not, after they had thrown tantrums wanting to quit the program! But on this occasion, they did not want to leave the program at all. In that moment, God put a promise in my heart from Genesis 28:15, “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” As a team and as the New Dawn program we are definitely united in the promise not to abandon these boys, and to continue with them in their recovery process.
We all started a “new life” when the virtual world took over our interactions with other people. As a program, we were not excluded but instead we had to adapt and continue through the rehabilitation process with the boys virtually. From that moment on all of their emotional and drug dependency therapies, as well as their family check-ins have been done by video calls via various virtual platforms.
It has been an adventure where we have discovered new talents from these young men, and we have also been able to see the fruits of the work we did in the residential program in the months before the quarantine. After four months of doing the program virtually, none of the boys have relapsed and they all continue to hold to their convictions of wanting to change. They remain engaged in receiving all of their therapies, and they participate in all of the video calls. The majority of the time they are completing all of their assigned tasks as part of the program because they know otherwise there will be consequences as we have worked to maintain a similar routine to our face-to-face format, and completing these tasks helps them to continue to foster a growing level of responsibility. We have also held “community” sessions where we celebrate birthdays of either one of the boys or one of our staff members, do exercise routines, or simply connect for the afternoon to play games like the family we have committed to create together inside the program.
However, like on any new journey there will be bumps in the road. We have faced challenges like poor internet connections, or a lack of privacy for therapy sessions since Salvadoran homes are often filled with extended families living together in small spaces and our residents’ homes are no exception. There are more complex challenges as well including the social realities of the communities where our residents live where drugs are right in front of them out in the open. Despite these difficulties, we are so proud of our boys who have overcome every challenge in this “new life,” and we trust that soon they will return in person to the program and after this stage that has brought a bit more darkness to everyone, we will truly see a “New Dawn.”