The Dark Dancers

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The north-western Galicia region in Spain is the top entry point for cocaine into Europe. Despite preventative measures, the number of drug addicts in this region is still disappointing.

TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00

Narration: El Pazo Bayón, located in Vilanova de Arousa, has become the symbol of mothers combating drugs. This building once belonged to Laureano Uviña, one of the most infamous drug kingpins in the north-western Galicia region in Spain.

Carmen and Dora are members of a group of mothers whose children are on drugs. They launched their campaign against drugs about three decades ago. It was due to their unrelenting protests that the building was confiscated and given to the people in the Galicia region.

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Dora Carrera, Founder of the Érguete Association: “We’ve been struggling here for a long time. When we came here, we looked like a group of savage animals; mothers like ferocious animals; some even worse. They began to enter form this door. They were breaking in. Maria and I tried to calm the crowd.That was a kind of war declared by the angry people. We had mounted a protest here. The war cost us dearly. But finally, that big day arrived. They gave us this place and Maria opened the door. It was a great moment. We threw a party then. It was really awesome. All invited people attended. There was a violinist there. Actually, there were three of them. Yes, there were three violinists over there at the party.

They came out of the grapevines. It fired me with enthusiasm when I got here. From the grapevine, some dancers came out. Those up there were in white and those down there were not smartly dressed. I thought those in white were those who had come here and those not decently dressed were those in the streets, still struggling with their drug problem.”

Narration: In the Galicia region, Érguete means “get up.” It’s the name of an association established by Carmen, Dora and a group of other mothers about three decades ago. Today, the association helps and supports those who are rejected by their families and society.

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Elvira Rivas, A Founding Member of Érguete: “So let’s go to the issue of prevention. We have to sort out all the February and March files. We have been asked to hold a great number of classes and courses. Lucia, from now on you are in charge of the courses. Andrea, you follow up the thing has to do with Penélope and other women. You have to send off all the information that must be recorded. We must form two groups; one made up of 12 people and the other of 35 people. I get really puzzled when I compare the current circumstances with those in the early days of the association. I’ve been here for about 23 years. When I started my career, the association was being established. It took us one year to get everything arranged. The association came into being in 1984. At the time, a group of parents found their children on drugs.At that point, we didn’t have the information we have today. There was no office or organization to refer to or consult with. It was from then on that a number of foundations were founded to help. Everything began out of the blue.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Lucia Pereda, Social Worker at Érguete: Let’s start from here. David and Finso, what have you written?”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Finso:Loneliness, peer pressure, spouse, social pressure, bad friends.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] David: “To be in a bad environment with bad friends.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Marisa: “Alcohol, money, friends, loneliness, families, depression and stress.”

TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Drug Addict: Having money without having a purpose; being alone for a long time; going to a place that may tempt you into using drugs again.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Lucia Pereda, Social Worker at Érguete: “In many cases, the drug addict attributes their bad situation to other problems.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Finso, Former Drug Addict: For example, they may say, “I use drugs because my partner abandoned me,” or “because I had such and such problems.””

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Lucia Pereda, Social Worker at Érguete: “These are lame excuses. There may be a lot of problems that put you under pressure but at the end of the day, it’s up all to you to make the final decision and then you try to make excuses. In other words, if you get addicted to drugs, you have to blame yourself. This is a clear issue.”

Narration: Marisa has been charged with assault and battery under the influence of alcohol. She’s attending the PFIS to avoid a prison sentence.

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Marsia, Former Drug Addict: “Perhaps, I started using drugs because I was abandoned by my family in childhood. I was only eight when my parents got divorced. Even at that time, they gave us wine with bread. They said it was “the food of tired horses.” That’s why I was brought up with alcohol.At parties, they would drink like a fish. My elders would smoke; my father, mother, uncles etc. I was brought up in such a family that used to smoke and drink all the time. Of course, only smoking and drinking. When I got older, I went after new things that caught my attention. When you hear about marijuana and you know your father brings marijuana from Mozambique, then you are tempted into trying it once and you enjoy it and use it more and more. And you go on using it. Now you have entered a new realm of experience and you like it and want to try other things. Of course, people differ in this regard.I have tried drugs like cocaine and heroin but when I was 18, I didn’t like them. That why I didn’t take them more. Once, I packed up and hit the road and came back to my city just to avoid cocaine and heroin addicts.”

Narration:Finso was arrested carrying 100 grams of cannabis. Thanks to Érguete’s PFIS, he has avoided going behind bars.

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Finso, Former Drug Addict: “I began taking drugs when I was 14. That said, I was a diligent student and had a good relationship with my family and friends and was supported enough by them all. I was living in a village. I used to work on our farm, feed cows and pick grapes. But, at the end, I got entangled in drug addiction. I began taking drugs at school. Then I changed my school and went to a seminary, one of those places where unruly children are sent to. But, I was not an unruly child. There, I got to know other new drugs. I took a little marijuana but heroin worked better during the 1980s in the Galicia region. I was young and had a job. My father also had his own job and business and no one knew that I was on drugs. You can do drugs without arousing anyone’s suspicions. Heroine does not betray its users; if you have enough money to take enough doses, you can go on with it well. I kept on for eight years.”

TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Manuel Arujo, Psychologist at ACLAD: “As for drug addiction, there is something important regarded as the natural process of disorder. People who take drugs like cocaine and heroin experience this kind of disorder. In Spain, tobacco consumption begins at the age of 13 which in fact goes with alcohol consumption. This is the first phase, that is, when a young person begins taking legal things. The second phase includes taking drugs like marijuana. It usually happens at the age of 14 and 15. The third phase includes taking drugs like cocaine that may end up in taking heroin. It’s worth mentioning that not everyone who smokes ends up in taking heroin. That’s not the point. It means that a person on cocaine or heroin at 25 has begun with such things.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Dora Carrera, A founding member of Érguete: “One day I was putting my son’s clothes in the dresser when I came across a thing covered with aluminum foil. How could I know what was going on? I asked my husband. It was grass. Since my husband was sort of romantic, he concluded it could have been a gift from our son’s girlfriend. After all, my son was handsome.Anyway, I put it back. I’m not sure, I think I found things like that once or twice and let my husband know. Both of us knew nothing about those stuffs. Then my husband took it from me and put it on the desk. When the children came back home from school, he put the stuff on a plate to see the children’s reaction. Then he threw it away. I cannot remember what he said or if he got angry.

Then what did we do? We found yet another one. Then, what did happen? He told a neighbor, “Because you’re not a smoker, please smoke it and tell me if it has any effect on you.” The neighbor smoked it and said that it had no effect on him. We forgot the issue altogether and later on, we saw what happened to our son and what he did and what we found in his stuffs. He got addicted and left us. He was too young to disappear. An uphill struggle … a difficult battle. We helped him a lot. We talked to him. We threw him out. He was for a while in the streets and we didn’t talk to him. This was the most difficult part of the job. But we knew how to say “no” sometimes. If parents have to know one thing in their lives, it’s how to say no to their children. If he really wanted to be helped out, everybody was prepared; all members of the family. What else do you want to know? It was a difficult battle. We were under great pressure. But we were no exception. Almost every family had to deal with this problem. He came off drugs after a few years. He came off several times but finally he got back on drugs again. He even left home because there were some times that we had to say no to him. There were many people at home and if he wanted to beat his drug addiction, it was possible. I have to say that it was very difficult to throw him away. Anyway, he beat a few times but relapsed into his old habit. This was the story for 23 years, 23 years of struggling. Then, he got the HIV virus and endless problems. But we took good care of him and stayed with him to the very end. Whenever we had to help him, if he wanted, we would help him heart and soul, but in a very clear framework. When he passed away, he had been at hospital for 20 days. The whole family was beside him. If he had one thing to take pride in, it was his family. All in all, he was a good boy; a smart, handsome boy. I don’t know. All we went through was a struggle.”

TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Marsia, Former Drug Addict: “One day, I had a nasty pain in my back. I had a terrible hangover. I thought, “If I take just a little, my pain will go away but tomorrow I have to increase the dose kill the pain. This is not the solution.””

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Finso, Former Drug Addict: “When I was 18, I began to take cocaine and then a cocktail of cocaine and heroin. And this way, I fell into decline. Heroin alone has enough harmful effects on you, let alone if you mix it with cocaine. This way, it can change your personality severely and your family will notice easily as do your friends. I was 24 when I abandoned my job. I had become a real scumbag. At that point, I became a vagabond and a thief. I was on no fixed address and had to sleep here and there at night. Before that, I had money and now I had to turn to theft. I had to sell up all I had. I must say that it’s easy to get drugs in Galicia. It’s not a difficult job.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Marsia, Former Drug Addict: “In my experience, I daresay that when you take heroin, gradually you feel pain in whole your body. If you have a pain in your side, you cannot get up. The only thing you think of is a way to get drugs and use is to get rid of all the pains. You become like a patient suffering from cancer who needs morphine all the time. I know persons who used to take heroin and ended up in morphine because they were in touch with patients suffering from cancer. In other words, they went from the frying pan and into the fire.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Finso, Former Drug Addict: “And it goes on and on until you end up in prison and you have to face the criminal court and justice system in addition to family problems. You’re trapped in a quagmire and almost impossible to get out of it. You beat your addiction once. You beat twice. You beat and those in treatment centers help you to get rid of drugs. Then you turn to drugs of your own free will. And this way, you lose many years; you lose many years and many things and you become alone, all alone. You get numerous pains and diseases. You get them all together.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Marsia, Former Drug Addict: “When I was 18, I asked myself, “How can a person in his or her early thirties become a drug addict?” and I got the answer when I was 38. Everyone at any age and under any circumstances is likely to get stuck in a way that seems impossible to get rid of. For example, they might need paternal love and cannot find it; need their families for support and cannot have them and at the end, they seek love among friends in the streets and the only thing they can find is a chance to take things that they were unfamiliar with but after a while become part of their existence.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Manuel Arujo, Psychologist, ACLAD Clinic:“In Europe, there are around 85 million people who have tried taking psychedelic drugs at least once in their lives. This figure makes up for one fourth of the whole population in Europe.”

Narration: According to the figures issued by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, Spain still holds the first rank in marijuana consumption across the EU despite a gradual decrease in the consumption of this drug over the past few years.The statistics also show that among people aged between 15 and 34, about 20 percent of them are on drugs. As for cocaine consumption, Britain holds the second rank.

TIME CODE: 20:00_25:00

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Manuel Arujo, Psychologist, ACLAD Clinic: “Concerning cocaine consumption, we hold a prominent rank; our consumption makes up for five percent in total. It shows a decline in the consumption of this drug. About other substances, the figures are much less, of course, except for cigarette and alcohol. Just a little more than half of the young population between 14 and 18, have consumed alcohol and at least one time has gotten drunk in last month.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Carmen Avendaño, Head of Érguete: “Little by little, we came across abnormal behavior in which the person kept themselves aloof from other people. Little by little, we noticed that something was going wrong. As we said earlier, it was an unknown problem. As for my son, he was very young. He was no more than 16. One Saturday, we were having lunch that he told me, “Mom, I’m going to talk to you.” We went to his room and he told me he was on drugs and asked me for help. As if the whole world was falling on me. I knew some young people on drugs who had ruined their lives though I knew not much about drug addiction in general. In addition, there was no related center or foundation. Well, I don’t know. It’s hard to accept and it become harder and harder because you don’t know that what to do. At that time, I felt my son was asking me for help and couldn’t do anything for him. I think that, this issue made me try to find other people grappling with the same problem and hold meetings with them. Then, we got organized and trained.

I think I’ve said it over and over again that our children were guinea pigs and we learned much from them and naturally we learn much of it the hard way. There were some parents that knew nothing about this issue and finally got divorced or there were some siblings that felt lack of attention and care because their parents had focused all their attention toward their addict child.

Yes, everyone has to adjust themselves with circumstances, not only mothers but all members of families. Gradually, we began to learn. We learned that they were just innocent victims, contrary to what society deemed them that they were a bunch of scumbags and the root cause of any crime or rape. Most of them were weak, debilitated with drugs. For the public, they are from dysfunctional families who have been adversely affected by the problems they have gone through. That’s why we decided to find a solution so as to defend ourselves, our families and our children.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Javier Alonso, Head of Housing Program: “The program has been designed for those who have no basic things like house. They come here to be trained and helped to find a job. Those who have access to housing program are those who have come here from rehabilitation centers in the city. They are people who have overcome their drug addiction more or less and are going to beat it forever in the near future.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Jose Ignacio, Former Drug Addict: “Hi, welcome! This building is a place to help drug addicts overcome their different problems, which is in fact the main purpose of the association. And this is my room. When I’m at this building, I stay here.

This is the kitchen and we usually cook here and like to have our heated discussions here; these discussions help us more than anything else to spend our time smoothly … yes, let’s say in this way. This is Carlos, one of my good friends.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Carlos, Former Alcohol Addict: “I started at 17. It was started with marijuana. I have to say that I never took heroin or cocaine. It was alcohol that ruined my life in four years. It’s a long story. We had quarrels all the time. It’s for alcohol addiction that I’m here. I must admit that I had to come here; otherwise, I had to go to prison. I said the truth frankly. Anyway, I lost my family. Now, I have regained them. But until last year, my family didn’t stand seeing me. I spoiled my brother’s wedding party. I had one of my worst quarrels there, with my uncle. Well, since I do full contact I know how to defend myself. Anyway, we had a bad quarrel and the ambulance arrived. I was already in trouble. That’s not the end of the story. Then, I had a quarrel with the police. In short, I ruined my life and ended up in the streets. Actually, I never slept in the streets but I used to sleep in a basement apartment belonged to some friends of mine. I had to adapt myself to that place; otherwise I had to sleep outdoors. Gradually, I got awake to the bitter fact of my life and decided that I didn’t want that kind of life. I burst in tears like children. That’s why I’m here and I hope not to come back to those places. I’ve changed a lot. My family has been affected adversely but still there have remained many good things. Now I notice things that I couldn’t see before. Now I think about myself but I didn’t before. Now I like and appreciate myself more that before.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Jose Ignacio, Former Drug Addict: “As for me, what put me in great trouble was cocaine which I got from one of my classmate, a person who I wish was here right now to see that I have overcome my addiction.

I was suffering from bipolar disorder coincided with drug use. The day I found out I was a burden on my mother I noticed that I needed help. I was independent for a certain period of time but then I couldn’t afford living alone because I couldn’t save money and I all of it would go away for drugs. I couldn’t manage my income.

And without doubt, it was a problem. So I got back to my mother’s home and became a burden on her. My mother raised my morale and said I could get rid of the situation that had put me in a vicious circle.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Carmen Avendaño, Head of Érguete: “Our children gave us a different look toward life. They made us revolutionary; in fact, that was a kind of revolution. And I want to say something here and now. At first, when we got together, well, the rest knew a little about me. My story was different, though; I had been in various societies and associations and I had my own company. That’s why I was different.

But most of the others were homemakers. That’s why discussion was difficult for them and I had to begin them all. Some would say some things, reach conclusions and record them not to forget them. The aim was the same.

I can remember one day I entered the association and all its members were gathering together. I don’t know why I hadn’t attended that session. I was left behind the door but I could hear them discussing and I found it wonderful. I thought how important we were and what a movement we had started. They thought, reacted, made decision and analyze different issues.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Dora Carrera, A founding member of Érguete: “Of course, sometimes we had to stop them …”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Carmen Avendaño, Head of Érguete: “Well, that was part of our strategy because we allowed even those at the forefront to go further but later on, those who were conservative stopped them to avoid trouble.

But I think that this movement was and is a group movement initiated by women. It has some socio-political implications. But if you listen to the opinions in this regard, you will see that some people didn’t like such a movement because they wanted to live on other people’s misery. Anyway, whatever we have today was formed and developed gradually.”

TIME CODE: 30:00_35:00

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Dora Carrera, A founding member of Érguete: “Of course, it was very difficult but I learned many things. She taught me many things and changed my life. In one way or another, I gained the desired status. You see what I mean? Anyway, it was not easy with six children. Yet, when a problem arises in a family, only the mother has to deal with it. The Father never lifts a finger. There have been very few men among us.

There were few men. Of course, they have to go to work and there were only women at home. But they could come afternoons but they didn’t. Then, more and more fathers began to attend. Still then, it seemed it was only our problems not theirs. “You have given birth to him and you have to bring him up and endure the conditions.””

Narration: In order to afford to get his drugs, David Reboredo began to sell drugs himself. He was sentenced to seven years in prison for carrying illegal drugs. His case became very controversial as the sentence was out of all proportion with the crime. Thanks to his family’s support, he came out of prison. Currently, he’s serving time at the Érguete Association.

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] David, Former Drug Addict:“It’s quite natural to be attracted by things that you have easy access to at home and around it. I can remember the first thing I was going to sell was my brother’s gold chain. This was the first time I was stealing and as soon as I sold it, I got the drug. When you do so, you feel guilty and you feel that you don’t want to do it and very simply you promise yourself that you’ll sort it out tomorrow. But you are stuck in a bad condition and you do the same thing again. Then you start to steal from outside and then you begin to sell drugs.

Then you enter a phase that you have to gain a certain amount of money. First, you say for example that you sell 100 grams of marijuana. Because you know those on marijuana you can make 5000 pesetas and buy your own drugs. You begin with a small amount. For example, you sell 100 grams to make 5000 pesetas. Then you sell 250 grams and go for a stronger substance.

Suddenly, you find yourself trapped and then there are always people who have an offer for you. Even if you refuse them the drug, they have no problem to get it from somewhere else.

I was 16 when I reached the end of the line and I began to sell drugs to get by. I was 16 when I was given for example a few kilos of marijuana. It’s not difficult to get drugs.

It was in the late 1980s when I went to prison in Vigo. There, you could find more drugs than in the streets. It was traded without any problem. Of course, the price was higher there. But you could get by if you could buy and sell drugs.

Nowadays, prisons have changed dramatically. I was in prison in the late 1980s and early 1990s but things have changed a lot since that time. You cannot have access to drugs easily. After all, there are a considerable amount of drugs in prison but not as much as before. Now there are many workshops in prison. I don’t know much about these prisons but I’m optimistic.

I attended several programs at the association and it was great when I was given a job. I worked here for a year and thanks to the work I was employed for that year. It was a great time. Anyway, even after beating your addiction, you’re most likely to begin again.”

TIME CODE: 35:00_40:00

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] David, Former Drug Addict:“I also, like many others, began taking drugs again. When you come off drugs and stop coming to the association, after a few years you have to come back for treatment.

The last time, I was on drugs for only four years. I was never as good as that time. I had been sentenced before and I had to go to prison for seven years. There was no doubt about it. The first time I was sentenced to prison I was suggested to take part in the PFIS at the association if I wanted to avoid the punishment because on conditions I could get rid of prison. But only one of the charges had to do with drugs and I was being persecuted for other things. That’s why the program didn’t save me and I had to go to prison for seven years. The association was always prepared to help me out but I was thrown to prison for my own faults. I had to serve my sentence.

Then I made my problem public and it was received well because I had been thrown to prison for seven years for a small amount of heroin that was less than half a gram. I had two cases in this regard but the total weight of the drugs would not add up to half a gram. Many protests were staged and I stayed in prison for about four months. One of my convictions which was three years and a half in prison was overturned and I was going to attend at this center instead.

Family has a pivotal role. In this regard, I had this chance to have my family beside me. Family not only can support you but also can have a vital role in making you understand that addiction is not a simple thing. I had this chance to have a caring father who helped me out. So again, the support of your family is essential in this regard.

During all these years, there are some occasions that they stop helping you because you don’t let them help you. They don’t leave you alone but they are beside you but when you don’t allow them to help you, they cannot help you. That’s obvious.

Sometimes, you are quiet and submissive and sometimes you are aggressive but I had my family beside me all the time. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a good family. It’s very difficult to begin the long process of treatment without having a family to support you. So I think having the support of your family is essential.

Now I feel better than ever before. It’s a long time I haven’t taken drugs. I feel I’m strong and supported. The other problem I was facing was that until last year, I had to go prison for seven years. But now I have only three months to finish my time. It’s incredible. Above all, I’ve been supported by everyone. I’m full of hope and energy to go on well as before and make up for what my family and relatives have done for me.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Marsia, Former Drug Addict: “After twenty years, I met a man after I had been looking after my daughter alone. I began my relationship with that man who was on cocaine. At first, I didn’t notice.

But after a month, the penny dropped. He was taking cocaine and heroin, everything except grass which I used to take. Little by little, I persuaded me to use other drugs. He insisted a lot and I gave in.

You try it, you like it and then you come off it because you know it’s harmful and then you try it again in a different way. The first time, I sniffed it and the second time I smoke it. The matter is not whether you like drugs or not; the matter is that drugs magnetize you. You take drugs a few times and then you want it again and again. When you run out of drugs, you go after buying more drugs. By the same token, cocaine demands you more and more.”

TIME CODE: 40:00_45:00

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Marsia, Former Drug Addict: “You might be a smart person and say enough is enough. You must come off drugs or you will never be able to beat your addiction. The person who must say enough is enough is you and no one else. I decided to go my separate ways because my friends had only put me in more trouble. It was because of him that I became a cocaine addicts and lost my daughter and my self-confidence as well as my relationship with some of my family members. After losing all those things, why shouldn’t you say enough is enough?

I came off drugs because I didn’t like such a world infested with drugs for my daughter. I came off drugs because I wanted to live, because I wanted to smile, because I wanted to listen to the songs of birds, because I wanted to swim at sea. Now after coming off drugs, I want to do some things that I never did before. Drugs bring about only three things; a dysfunctional family, death and misery. Since I haven’t taken cocaine, my life has changed by 80 percent. Since the time I’m trying to stop drinking alcohol, my life has changed by 95 percent. In order to change my life by 100 percent, I have to take one major step and then I want to change my life dramatically.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Finso, Former Drug Addict: “I always say that the information you are given are not totally true. The information the government give you is that you like to know, neither more nor less than that. They own everything. They run drugstores and make a lot of money out of them.

Our focus is on heroin and cocaine but we can turn it to tranxilium and valium and other tranquilizers that the public have full access to. They make people a bunch of idiots. Because the public have prejudice towards some drugs and substances, people say, “Hey, they are drug addicts.” Well, how about you, sir? As you may have noticed, people take tranxilium and valium as soon as they come up against a problem. Today, having these kinds of drugs at home are very common. Alcohol is highly addictive as is tobacco. Well, if you want to get out of this crisis, make everything legal. There have been conducted numerous experiments and researches to make cocaine addicts overcome their addictions. They gave them heroin for this purpose or to help them come off heroin they gave them marijuana, for example.

Methadone is a lucrative drug for them. Why the government does like to save thousands of drug addicts with methadone? Because it wants to take your personality and stop you from being a respected human being; because methadone is a kind of synthetic heroin. Who are you deceiving? In theory, you have this substance and you can have a lot of people under control, those who must take a certain dose every day. You don’t let them get rid of this nasty drug.

I came off drugs all by myself. I was looking for an incentive to keep on living, despite all my diseases and all doctors’ warnings against having a child. I have a daughter who is very pretty and healthy. That’s while the doctors had warned me not to have a child.

As if my paternal feeling had come under attack. Then, I went to some substance abuse treatment centers and I learned from each one a thing. You know what? because none of them knew what the problem was. I learned one thing from this, one thing from that. I needed support.

I have parents but as if I don’t have. I have a brother but as if I don’t have. No one helped me. In such conditions, you tell yourself that you must have some responsibility, you must have something. I had a job. I decided to have a child. I didn’t like to adopt a child. They told me not to have a child of my own because I’m suffering from some diseases and I have liver problem etc. But at the same time, there were some other doctors that told me I could have my own baby without having a problem.

When my daughter came to the world, I myself took take of her because her mother was suffering from post-natal depression and was under treatment. So I look after my daughter and stayed at home. Now, I defend house husband vigorously.

Housekeeping weighs you down with responsibilities. You have a girl to bring up. I think no one is needed to talk to her about illegal drugs because I am a good example for her and when the time is ripe, I will talk to her about this issue. Now, she is seven and she is a smart girl. I’m living with her and I really love her and her personality.”

TIME CODE: 45:00_50:36

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Finso, Former Drug Addict: “I must add that after all those ups and downs, having a child was the best thing that could happen in my life. For that purpose, I was under constant treatment and I had to take a risk. I’ve come off drugs for ten years and for at least six years, I was expected to begin again but I didn’t. They said Finos would take drugs again but I wouldn’t. You have to live with such problems. During these ten years, people were wrong.

Even today, some people call me an addict. They say you will be an addict forever. You are the real addict, not me. Now everything is clear to me. Now after ten years, if a person calls me an addict, I’ll be insulted. I think it’s not fair.

You know, what does a person learn after all those years of misery and homelessness? They get tough and they can bear any problem and hardship in life without being upset or anxious. At this point, being beside my daughter, playing with her and spending time with her are the major incentives for me to go on.

When you get up in the morning and your daughter hugs you and kisses you and tells you how much she loves you, then you feel you’re the happiest man in the world. In fact, I have my dose of happiness with my daughter. I don’t swap it for drugs despite all difficulties.

I keep house for her; I tidy up the house, prepare food and take the child to school, all for her. Sometimes, some mothers tell me to not to let her eat this or that thing. I take their advice but no one teach me anything. I’m a self-taught father.”

Narration: Ignacio, Carlos, finso, Marisa, David … The Érguete Association gave them a helping hand but it was they who got up and seized the chance to start anew.

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Carmen Avendaño, Head of Érguete: “I think the spirit of this work has touched the youths as well because they have accepted us as role models and this is interesting. To be honest, I feel proud of it. How about you?”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Dora Carrera, A founding member of Érguete: “Me too.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Carmen Avendaño, Head of Érguete: “When I hear, “Dora, well done!” it makes me happy.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Dora Carrera, A founding member of Érguete: “The other day, one said the same thing. I said, “I’m Dora. Do you know me?” He said, “of course I know you? I’ve seen you on TV. You are Dora, the person who has been struggling for a long time!” There are many people who know me and say, “Look at the struggling woman.” I’m not working more than others but I was always there, eh? I was always there, even when my son passed away. I was always there.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Carmen Avendaño, Head of Érguete: “I’d like to mention something. Fortunately, I lost none of my children suffering from this problem. Both are alive but most parents have lost their children but they’re still in touch with the association.

They’re still there and introduce anyone in trouble to the association telling them that they can find help there. This is a feeling that has developed in each of us.

Well, there are many families that have passed away, especially old families. There are a few of us still here, but their spirits can be felt here at the association. Today, there are 27 different programs at this place.

There are different units; we have workshops in prisons; we have very important programs in all prisons in the Galicia region and perhaps everything began with people like we two, Dora and I. Fortunately, our efforts is yielding today. However, these families’ problems have not been solved as I said before.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Dora Carrera, A founding member of Érguete: “The successors …”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Carmen Avendaño, Head of Érguete: “The successors of old drug dealers are still involved in drug trafficking. They have ruined many things and they are ruining many things. However, we have done many things. Today, Dora like I, can tell anybody, “Go to the Érguete Association.””

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Dora Carrera, A founding member of Érguete: Oh, yes.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Carmen Avendaño, Head of Érguete: “Because there are many professional people there.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Dora Carrera, A founding member of Érguete: “Many, indeed.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Carmen Avendaño, Head of Érguete: “Many, and they are the inheritors of our struggle. They are not ordinary people. They are conscientious and we must be proud of them.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Dora Carrera, A founding member of Érguete: “Yes, I’m really proud of them. The association is my second home. I always say this and get emotional.

How long we struggled!

And how long we have to struggle yet!”



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