While I walk with Pauline heading to her meetings and different activities, she tells me about her project. When she arrived in Argentina in 2014 she didn’t speak a word of Spanish and no one was expecting her in the diocese. Not only she had to learn a new language but she also had to adapt her ways of working and communicating to Argentina. And step by step she found her place within a church rather sexist . Her strength? Her passion for her project, her perseverance with her ideas and her experience at the European parliament. Thanks to her professional experience she is used to work and communicate in a political way, which is a real advantage in her mission of coordination of the Teams of Addictions Prevention (Equipos de Prevencion de Addictiones): EPA.
The listening groups
With Pauline I attend different listening and support groups for the relatives to young
people affected by drug addiction. It is essentially mums and wives who are joining. These women experience a tough daily life and sometimes don’t know how to support hers partners or sons facing addiction issues. In these groups they realise they are not alone in this situation, they can learn from others experiences and above all release a bit their emotional burden. Listening and supporting is an art: we don’t judge, we don’t take initiatives and we advise when the situation is really serious, when not doing it would be same as failure to assist a person in danger. When a woman asks for advices, then Pauline can offer solutions: to register her son in a professional training at Don Bosco (Salesian community of Formosa diocese), ask for some psychological support for her son and sometimes for her as well. But there is a long way for these women to reach those steps and it takes quite some time! Pauline keeps anyway her motivation up and always offers to come with them for the different procedures: « My door remains open you know these options exist. Call me and we will go together. » It is a long-term job where patience is required with women who often have a poor self-esteem level limiting them in their initiatives.
A key meeting
It is Wednesday afternoon, we are going to the hospital of « Circuito 5 » district, in the psychiatry section. Pauline has an appointment with her friend Vanesa,
psychiatrist doctor and the psychologist team of the hospital. On the way, Luisa join us. She is one of the most dynamic volunteer of the prevention teams. Luisa is teacher and she recently left her catechises groups to dedicate more time to prevention of drug addiction. At the hospital we meet 4 other professionals of health care: psychiatrists and psychologists. Each person arrives one after another during the meeting. At first the atmosphere is a bit perplex: what do this French woman and this teacher want? The thing is the hospital doesn’t have a lot of resources. The team is already overloaded and there is only 2 psychiatrists with one being part-time. However, as one goes along the atmosphere gets more relaxed and the enthusiasm grows.
Indeed Pauline came to seek for information and ways of linking her listening groups to the next step of the process: the psychological support for the families of persons with addictions. And the doctors they don’t want to stick to treatments for people in situation of addictions: they want to be proactive and act more in prevention. Therefore when one of the psychologist offers to join on regular basis the listening groups, the objectives of the meetings are over-archived. I admire the involvement and the efficiency of these volunteers and professionals. At the end of the meeting it is decided to work in collaboration. They already have a concrete action plan and a date to meet again the following week. I don’t remember attending such a productive meeting before!
EPA, EPA ! Hablemos del tema! Hey EPA ! We have to talk about the issue !
Thursday morning the alarm rings at 6 am, at 7 am we are on the bus and at 8 am we reach the Manantial, a local radio. Today it is a big day: it is the day of the first radio program about the addictions prevention. An idea that Pauline is supporting since many months to the different members of the prevention network and she has finally obtained the green light! The objective of this program is not only to promote the actions already existing on the ground but also to offer a space of expression to a larger public within the city. Drug is a problem of society and talking about it on the local radio is a great way to encourage people to fight to get out of it. At the mic Sergio, a radio journalist is presenting with a calm voice, in tandem with Norma who brings her optimism and enthusiasm. They introduce the Diocese Commission of fight against Drug Addiction (Comision Diocesana de Drogadependencia) and the EPA : teams of Addiction Prevention and its radio program EPA, EPA ! Hablemos del tema (Hey EPA! We have to talk about the issue). To do so they interview a priest and a volunteer. In the control room Viviana is super motivated by this new program and found at the last minute a great jingle. At the end of the program the ideas are flowing: « we need a facebook page so people can easily ask questions and share testimonies ». The initiative of this program is great and its development promises to be really interesting!
Sergio & Norma Pauline & Viviana
In a window time of 2 years Pauline has fully fulfil her mission: she has set a true network of support and prevention against addiction in Formosa capital. She work not only with families touch by drug and health professionals but she also succeed to open the debate to the public at a city level. And the prevention wouldn’t be prevention if it wouldn’t include children too. This is why Pauline has set some drama workshops for children every Sunday morning. After the workshop they have access to a free meal prepared by volunteers. For the project next steps, Pauline has recruited her successor: Niels. She was looking for a social worker in order to be more performant on the ground. And she also looked for a male in order to make the work easier for this person in the EPA network…Asi ès ! This is how the ground reality is!