Re­cov­er­ing ad­dicts’ movie nights steer oth­ers from drugs

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - China - XIN­HUA XIN­HUA

By show­ing movies in com­mu­ni­ties, the Sun­flower cinema team hopes to com­mu­ni­cate a sim­ple mes­sage: Drugs de­stroy lives. Most of the vol­un­teers, them­selves re­cov­er­ing ad­dicts, can at­test to this first­hand.

The out­door screen­ings, which reg­u­larly at­tract au­di­ences of over 300, are held at parks, schools, bas­ket­ball courts and other pub­lic spa­ces through­out Zhong­shan, Guang­dong prov­ince, on week­ends.

Part of the city’s anti-drug cam­paign, the non­profit Sun­flower project was started in Septem­ber 2014 and has or­ga­nized about 130 free movie nights.

Vol­un­teers are made up of ad­dicts on the road to re­cov­ery. Most have steady in­comes and help out part time.

One of the ear­li­est par­tic­i­pants, Feng, who spoke on con­di­tion of us­ing a pseu­do­nym, said he had been strug­gling to stay clean and healthy be­fore he joined the pro­gram.

“I’d failed more than 30 drug treat­ments, and my criminal record had be­come a ma­jor ob­sta­cle,” he said.

To­day, Feng looks and be­haves com­pletely dif­fer­ently com­pared with when he en­tered the city’s drug as­sis­tance pro­gram, which aims to help ad­dicts rein­te­grate with so­ci­ety.

Huang Jing­wen, a so­cial worker who helps re­cov­er­ing drug ad­dicts, said: “Feng was in­dif­fer­ent to re-en­ter­ing so­ci­ety dur­ing his first two or three months at the so­cial ser­vices cen­ter. But a year later, he be­gan gain­ing con­fi­dence thanks to con­tin­u­ous as­sis­tance and guid­ance.”

Feng cred­its Huang and the other so­cial work­ers with get­ting him back on the right path, adding that their self­less sup­port en­cour­aged him to give back to so­ci­ety.

He signed up for the Sun­flower project when it was only an idea, mak­ing him one of the first four reg­u­lar team mem­bers.

Later, he was ap­pointed the team’s leader.

“I’ve got­ten great plea­sure and ful­fill­ment from my vol­un­tary work,” Feng said, adding that he shares a close bond with his team­mates.

The project ini­tially re­ceived fi­nan­cial sup­port from the city, but over the years, com­pa­nies and cham­bers of com­merce have be­gun pro­vid­ing funds, too.

The Sun­flower team is now com­pletely self-gov­erned, with 25 reg­u­lar vol­un­teers and sta­ble spon­sor­ship from the pri­vate sec­tor, ac­cord­ing to Wu Yong­guang, the po­lice drug squad of­fi­cer who ini­ti­ated the project.

He said the project pro­vides a plat­form for re­cov­er­ing ad­dicts like Feng who are ea­ger to get more in­volved in their com­mu­nity and are will­ing to con­trib­ute to so­ci­ety.

The free movie nights are held two to three times a month, with four or five vol­un­teers tak­ing turns to help out.

Vol­un­teers of­ten share their ex­pe­ri­ences with the au­di­ence af­ter the screen­ings. Their strug­gles are a warn­ing to oth­ers to stay away from drugs, they say.

Feng, who makes a liv­ing run­ning a mu­sic stu­dio, said when each movie be­gins, he sits be­hind the au­di­ence to en­joy sev­eral hours of in­ner peace.

“Dur­ing this time, I feel like a glow­worm, shim­mer­ing and bring­ing warmth as the dark­ness ar­rives,” he said.

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