Thursday, May 22, 2014

“Reach for the stars because success is limitless!”: Mr. Balwan Ji’s 14th Recovery birthday...

                On 20th May 2014, SHAFA graduate and highly respected recovering addict, Mr. Balwan Ji celebrated his 14th recovery birthday amongst our family and staff members at SHAFA HOME, Delhi.
       He was accompanied with his friend, Mr. Hanif Ji of 12 years recovery. For any recovering addict, his recovery birthday heralds a time of victory over his destructive demons and liberation from his tumultuous past. Another year has passed without him compromising his inner-strength and wisdom by caving into the ruinous temptation of a drink or a drug. Today, he stands tall in the face of adversity and declares to himself; “come what may, I am clean and serene living a life free from substances”.      
       Balwan Ji was met with a sea of warm wishes and congratulations from residents and staff as he descended upon the eagerly waiting gathering. He sat before our residents with guest of honour, Mr. Ranjan Dhar, to share his story of hope and courage. Everybody attentively listened to his tale of personal transformation, from a once stormy and unpredictable drug-addicted existence and the transition into a optimistic and fruitful life.
       Our staff and residents listened closely to Balwan Ji’s sharing and drew many connections from his charismatic story. It was apparent in the wide-eyes of many residents how similar their previous lives were to his. He shared how addiction grabbed and consumed him voraciously. How with the progression of the disease, his future aspirations and dreams had vanished and finally, how his family and outer society viewed him as a parasite and shunned him from their vicinity. All of us could honestly say we had also experienced this during our active using period.      
However, as Mr. Balwan Ji met with the outstretched hands of SHAFA HOME, he found his light at the end of the dark tunnel. He expressed how through completing treatment at SHAFA, his outlook on life completely changed when entered the outside society. He became determined to live a disciplined, dynamic and drug-free life. 14 years down the road, today goes to show he has achieved just that! Despite life’s inevitable ups and downs, his willingness to remain clean and sober has remained unfettered. He went on to talk about his regained self-respect, dignity and confidence. This ignited a blazing beacon of motivation and reassurance within the hearts and minds of our recovering residents.  
       As his sharing wound to a close, the hall was filled with applause and sincere commendation of his shining success story. His dynamic sharing had a few of our members left with questions. One younger resident asked Mr. Balwan Ji “How is it that you have managed to not pick up substances despite life’s inevitable problems? Balwan Ji’s response was that he has always kept in touch with Mr. Ranjan Dhar without fail, come rain or shine. After all “a problem shared is a problem halved”.
 The resounding message was; if he could achieve 14 years without a drug or a drink, so could we! Residents sung a hearty chorus of "Happy Birthday" and our younger residents then presented him a hand-made birthday card to commemorate his special day.   

       This occasion is an example of how through grit-determination, a fighting spirit and unconditional positive thinking, any addict can break free from the shackles of his substance-ridden past. It is a matter of dedication, discipline and patience. Like Mr. Balwan Ji, our SHAFA residents have been presented with a beautiful chance to start their lives afresh on the road of recovery. 

To view more pic's click on the link below :-

Monday, May 19, 2014

Morning ‘Energisers’ with Maheshwari Jani: Fun and Games within Therapy.

Over the last 3 weeks, Ms. Maheshwari Jani; a behaviour analyst and master in neuro-linguistic programming has presented 3 sessions at SHAFA HOME, Delhi dedicated to self-exploration, confidence building and personality development. These sessions have been attended by all residents and staff members. Ms. Maheshwari Ji hosts her sessions on Sunday mornings. When the mood is slightly flat we know we can rely on Maheshwari Ji to infuse vivacity and energy into the dreariness!
When residents assemble in the ‘Asha Greh’ hall, their expressions radiate both wonder and anticipation of the forthcoming event. Finally, Ms. Mahi Ji enters and is met with a sea of applause. On her first visit, she greeted the residents and explained her credentials. We came to know she was self-esteem and confidence coach with extensive training experience.
During her first session, she fronted the residents with a poignant question. “Had we ever felt our positive skills & qualities fell invisible to the world?” From the glimmers of agreement in members’ eyes it was clear to see the answer was a resonant “yes” We were intrigued to see where this was leading…In this session we played a game designed at improving our self-expression skills, elocution and utilise our brain power. Residents split into 9 teams and were instructed to consider each letter in our name and attribute a positive quality we felt we possessed to that letter. As our residents got into the swing of things, the atmosphere buzzed with excitement! Creative juices were flowing as our minds were set to the task. As the session as everyone shared their contributions to their attentive audience, smiles beamed from our resident’s faces as they unlocked their tightly-bolted doors to greet their long-forgotten companions – their worthwhile and charming selves!
Maheshwari Ji’s second session was dedicated to peer-relationship establishment. Her bright and bubbly personality captivated us as she exuberantly explained the aim of this visit. In this session, we would play “hot-seat”, wherein one member would sit in front of his peers and answer their rapid-fire questions. The “hot seat” setup would test each member’s willingness to open up to their past, as well as assess their dynamic communication skills. There was a little ‘head-scratching’ and nervous laughter as each family member took it in turns to grace the “hot seat” Their fellow brothers and sisters asked them about their past, their present feelings, fears and hopes for the future. It was evident to see this pushed the answerer outside of their comfort shell, but this tested their eagerness to release their emotional baggage. This “letting-go” is deeply crucial for a successful recovery.      
The third session had the residents participating in a continuation of the peer-relation strengthening game. However, this session’s setting took on a more intimate format. Rather than the residents collectively throwing their questions to the individual, members split into pairs. After initial hesitation, everybody overcame their apprehensions and confidently gave their emotional insights to their partner. Residents had their adaptability skills and flexibility to new situations tested perfectly. Polishing these skills would be integral to ensure a smooth recovery in the future.
So far these sessions have been a resounding success! Both staff and residents alike enthuse that Ms. Jani’s activities have been a valuable chance to investigate ourselves. At SHAFA HOME, we believe in “expecting the unexpected”. These sessions have proved this statement beautifully since our residents are overcoming their negative self-image and are learning to appreciate how their past actions and behaviour have shaped them into the person they are today – and consequently who they envisage to be in the future.

From all of us at SHAFA HOME, we send our sincere gratitude and thanks to Ms. Maheshwari Jain for her time, dedication and effort with our residents. 

To view more pic's click on the link below :-   

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mother’s Day 2014: Cherishing the women of unwavering faith

“I said I’m sorry Mama, I never meant to hurt you, I never meant to make you cry but tonight I’m cleaning out my closet”
On Sunday 11th May 2014, billions of people worldwide celebrated ‘Mother’s Day’. Even our SHAFA residents did not miss out on the chance to commemorate the special event. The evening was dedicated to a Mother’s Day programme in which a series of activities engaged our residents to reflect, recognise and remember their unconditionally loving mothers. These resilient women have lived through the destructive tornado that their sons and daughters had ripped through their lives while in active substance addiction. Despite this, our mothers have never given up hope that their once sweet and good-hearted children would reform their wayward behaviour.
Our celebratory evening commenced with our residents watching a short video entitled “A Letter from Mom and Dad’. It was an emotional plea of understanding and compassion from an elderly person’s point of view requesting their child not to abuse them or forget them as they grew older and more senile. The video pulled at our residents’ heartstrings as many were reduced to silent tears.  
The heavy atmosphere lightened considerably when our Staff On Duty: Mr. Balbir Sir Ji cheerfully instructed to us that we would be given the opportunity to design cards for our mums. Our residents eagerly put pen to paper to make delightfully beautiful and unique creations. It was obvious to see that our residents had taken time, effort and dedication to complete the task. Not only was it a marvelous salute to their mothers, it had also been a fantastic chance for them to express their creativity.
In the evening’s ‘family gathering’ session, our residents were assigned to present their card to the rest of the family members. Turn-by-turn, all residents showed their card and gave a short explanation of the emotions that they felt during the creating period. From their sharing, we encountered how honestly and bravely they were able to identify the true extent as to how much undue strain they had placed on the relationship they had with their mothers. They then enthusiastically commented that with ongoing recovery, they would become able to repair and rebuild that damaged bond.
Despite being selfish and often inconsiderate sons and daughters in our previous, substance-riddled existence, residents expressed their full and sincere intentions to reform their behaviour. One day, they would once again become their mum’s pride and joy – like they did in the golden, uncomplicated days of childhood.
As the evening’s events wound to a close, Balbir Sir Ji took us by surprise as he serenaded us with an impromptu song dedicated to the spirit of motherhood. Residents’ faces were alight with smiles and warm murmurs of appreciation filled the ‘Asha Grah’.
Mother’s Day 2014 was a incredibly emotionally-charged but resounding success of a day. Not only did it offer our SHAFA residents with a necessary period of genuine, inner reflection of their former uncaring selves, it gave them a boost of motivation to continue living a clean and serene life.

As long as we allow that beacon of hope to continue shining brightly, the relationship we have with our mother’s can never be extinguished. 
To view more pic's click on the link below :-             

Thursday, May 8, 2014

"A self-made Super Hero celebrates his 21st recovery birthday"

                For any recovering addict, it is fair to proclaim that his recovery birthday has greater importance and significance than his biological date of birth. His recovery birthday signals his emancipation and triumph over his substance-ridden past. This is the day which heralds his nascent entrance into a new, fresh and dazzlingly hopeful dimension of existence! Armed with the memories of his murky past, the ex-addicts recovery birthday marks his tremendous effort, will-power and strength to successfully evade the destructive distractions thrown into his path. Today he celebrates the impenetrable defence he has created against those harmful temptations. That prior cacophony of never-ending abuse has finally, silenced.
        When our residents came to hear that our founder and CEO of SHAFA HOME Mr. Ranjan Dhar was entering his 21st year in recovery on the 24th April 2014, jaws dropped in sheer amazement and awe. The words on everyone’s lips were “WOW...and how??!” Many were mesmerized and starstruck that anyone could pursue and sustain a substance-free life for such an impressive period of time!
One young member, wide-eyed in wonder asked “Was Sir Ji secretly Super Man in disguise?”
...Perhaps so!!
        Preparations occurred at both our Delhi and Uttrakhand centres wherein our residents took time and superb dedication to cook an appetizing breakfast, lunch and dinner including tandoori naans, paneer and chicken dishes and green chutney sandwiches which were relished by all! We also had the opportunity to enjoy a heavenly cream and toffee birthday cake on top of the gourmet extravaganza.
        Our residents took fantastic effort to decorate and transform our centres with banners, balloons and an explosion of glitter and colour cascading from the walls and doors; reflecting the excitement and joyful atmosphere felt by young and senior members alike It was truly a sight to behold!
        In Kotdwar, residents embarked on a 'card-presentation' ceremony. Costume bearing residents marched a short procession with the accompaniment of tabla players as the main centerpiece; a beautiful hand-crafted peacock feather adorned painting was proudly displayed to all. It was evident to see that our residents had taken both immense care and attention to detail to put on such a fantastic show in order to commemorate Ranjan Sir Ji's recovery birthday.
        In our Delhi centre, the atmosphere became electric when Sir Ji engaged us with his charismatic energy as he shared the remarkable story of his recovery journey. We were all gripped by his compelling tale and could honestly say that we could feel the real sense of compassion and empathy Sir Ji has for us. We soon came to hear he too had also experienced the same six feelings of pain, shame, anger, guilt, fear and hurt. That too, like many of us, had also mixed with unsavoury company and ended up in trouble back in his using days. However, with time, courage and firm discipline he vanquished his inner demons to choose a substance-free life
        This is what gives us residents the hope, positive direction and boost of self-confidence that we need to fight this disease - a day at a time. Ranjan Sir Ji's recovery is a valid example that proves nothing can stop us fulfilling our potential and succeeding at life.
All-in-all, Mr. Ranjan Dhar's 21st recovery birthday was a total success! The day's preparations and events ran smoothly with the help and co-operation of both our residents & staff.
Ultimately, this occasion has shown us that Sir Ji's recovery is a shining trophy of his sincere motivation towards leading substance-free life. We remember and recognise the long, trepid but ultimately successful road our Sir has walked these last 21 years and pay homage to the superb achievements he has made for himself. With God's grace may he continue to continue to shine as a beacon of inspiration to all of us at SHAFA HOME. 
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Monday, May 5, 2014

"SHAFA HOME proudly sends two of its trainee counsellors to the 7th A.R.S in Pakistan"

The Asian Recovery Symposium is an annual event conducted by the founders of the 'Columbo Plan Bureau' ; an international NGO based in Sri Lanka's capital city, Columbo. It is a pioneer organisation within the cluster of de-addiction support organisations in Asia. Its primary goal is grouping,co-ordinating and strengthening all efforts against substance addiction and its treatment.       
        Two of our trainee peer-support counsellors, Mr. Goverdhan Joshi and Mr. Sanjeev Kodan (who are both recovering addicts) travelled to Pakistan to attend the seventh annual 'Asian Recovery Symposium'. Our keen trainees were delighted to recieve this chance to embark on a fantastic learning experience. They were highly optimistic that this event would be a gem-of-an-oppurtunity to expand on their knowledge regarding substance addiction counselling for the recovering induvidual.
         Hundreds of ex-addicts, advice & support professionals and trainee counselling personnel from South and South-East Asia gathered in the capital city, Islamabad to take part in a weekend-long conference, series of talks and educational seminars from the 12th - 14th April 2014. The event's main focus was geared at raising awareness of the destructive impact of active addiction, the individual's transition into recovery and the wealth of support strategies a recovering addict can encounter to strengthen and maintain a clean and serene life. 
        The Symposium hosted a range of activities such as one-on-one 'meet & greet' sessions with professional support workers with years of valuable and extensive experience in the field of recovery. Our SHAFA team met with the leaders of the event and remarked how focused and determined the organisers were to ensure the A.R.S would be a fruit-bearing success for all attendees.
        The event also hosted counsellor training seminars wherein our very own Mr. Sanjeev Kodan was an active and conscientious participant. As a counselling ambassador representing SHAFA HOME, he expressed how "these sessions gave light upon a variety of useful and implementable tools to construct a healthy relationship with the recovering addict so that the counsellee would be able to trust his/her counsellor, openly share their fears and apprehensions and trust their counsellor to give reliable and pertinent advice.  
        The 7th A.R.S also involved members' individual speeches regarding their own journies into recovery. Our Mr. Goverdhan Joshi brought his own addiction & recovery experience before the eagerly attentive hall. He eloquently spoke of his own harrowing life in active addiction , his courageous transition into recovery and how he met with the helping hand of SHAFA HOME's team of dedicated and unconditionally supportive counsellors. He went on to add "how important it is to face life's challenges head on without dissolving into feeling overwhelmed and admitting defeat...each sober day is a resounding success and miracle. This triumph must be recognised and celebrated because life in recovery is God's gift.

        All-in-all, this was a smashing experience for our trainees! It had been a superb chance for them to enrich upon their own recoveries as well as enhancing their counselling skills. They were filled with fresh ideas of how they would pass their HOPE, STRENGTH  AND COURAGE to the newly recovering addict. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014


Today, I experienced something which was very different and unusual than a general birthday. In TC terminology it is known as a "Recovery Birthday". A birthday signifies that the earth has completed one revolution around the sun in its orbit. Similarly, a Recovery Birthday is celebrated when an addict completes a year staying away from drugs or being sober. We celebrate our birthdays every year with the same enthusiasm and excitement irrespective of the kind of actions or deeds we might have committed during that time, every year. But today, this day seemed of more importance to me than any birth anniversaries. During this year, the addict accomplishes a lot by going through all the hardships in one's life without resorting to the escape route of numbing things with the use of drugs.
                          Today, I witnessed Anand Mani's 15th recovery birthday celebrations. He shared his feelings of 15 years of drug use and his journey of recovery, in front of residents of Shafa. Like every year, this
 this year too, he came to the center to celebrate his birthday with the Shafa family as a token of love and honor, as this place has helped him to embark on this new beginning in his life. He shared amongst the family that after losing everything in all realms of his life and getting admitted to 8 or 9 treatment programs at the age of 37 years he came to Shafa. This was where he surrendered to the program and accepted his own mistakes and this was only possible because of the kind of atmosphere and platform offered at Shafa.

According to him, this was the turning point in his journey towards recovery. This journey must not have been very easy, after living a life of a junkie on the streets, one forgets about his duties, responsibilities and a sense of discretion between right and wrong. Then, he had to conform to the new norms of the program and this helped him to instill self-check mechanisms, which ensured him to sustain his recovery in every possible way. This family has become like a safe haven for him, as his program got over and he was told to go home he got scared, as he had nowhere to go. Tears welled in his eyes when he started talking about the changes which had come in his life after being in recovery. He still can't believe that he has a family who loves him, he has a son, he has bought his own house, he has a good job as a banquet manager and he has build relationships with people who support him. I strongly feel that he has become a good role-model. Previously, he used to be a person who was using drugs as an excuse or a support system for everything and now he faces every life's every challenge without drugs and has managed to cope well. He himself said that "Recovery is the fight and struggle in life" and this struggle is never-ending.
Today after listening to his words, this birthday celebration felt special, when I compared it with all other biological birthdays I have celebrated so far in my life.

As seen by XYZ, an Intern on 2nd May’2014, in SHAFA.