The 25th of June is every year a special day for the OASI Foundation especially this year when it celebrated its 20th Anniversary of sterling service by opening officially a new unit in the rehabilitation centre the foundation runs in Victoria, Gozo.
The OASI Foundation was constituted and publicly registered in June 1991 as an NGO, alias a voluntary and autonomous philanthropic organisation, free from any political, religious or sectarian allegiance and with the clear aims of creating a structure for the intervention, treatment and rehabilitation of persons with addiction conditions. Through out these years the OASI Foundation pursued innovative, educational and preventive means and methods that would address all people and human experiences in the field of substances and addiction in the Maltese islands without discrimination
During the inauguration and opening of the new treatment unit in Wied Sara Street, Victoria, Fr. Cordina, the Founder and the actual Director General of the OASI Foundation, emphasized on the various developments that happened within the Foundation throughout the years, always aimed at improving its programmes for the benefit of the service users. Throughout the years society at all its levels assisted constantly the OASI Foundation to continue fulfilling its duty. However and unfortunately certain obstacles persisted. The development of a materialistic liberal and hedonistic society often approved and promoted by the local media encourages a mentality of freedom to do whatever one deems accommodating to the ego of the new age free person. This has promoted the idea that getting stoned and done with the use of entertainment drugs, particularly cocaine is nothing wrong. But these challenges should not discourage OASI from continuing its mission out there among the outcaste members of society.
Mr. Anton Tabone, former and first Minister for Gozo, Giovanna Debono the current Minister for Gozo and Bishop for Gozo H.E Mario Grech all focused on the challenging circumstance that encircle the problem of addiction which unfortunately is on the increase. Awareness is fundamental towards this social issue, but one shall not forget the persons close to the addict, and the social circumstances that affect them directly and indirectly.
Mr. Anton Tabone in the presence of the Minister for Gozo as well as Justyne Caruana and of the many guests officially opened the new premises. The Bishop of Gozo blessed the new premises with a fervent prayer.
THE OASI FOUNDATION
OASI has 4 main objectives:
To educate people through all available educational means and within the various social environments in the community
To dissuade people in distress or crisis situations from experimenting with harmful substances or from indulging in risky behaviours
To assist individuals who acquire the disease of addiction in their process of recovery and social reintegration and
To give assistance and support to their families
Besides its Administration Department OASI offers 4 main service units:
The eventual success of prevention lies in a community based program where individuals are assisted to live an environment free from stress and clean from the dangers of chemical substances and other human conducts that might lead to a self destructive behaviours. OASI Foundation strives to do exactly this.
In its quest to promote its statement of belief that “Life is Beautiful!” and worth living to its maximum, the Primary Prevention services are all geared to promote a positive living environment.
A description of the activities that the Primary Prevention Team organise during the year includes:
Preventive Education in Schools, in all Gozo schools starting from Primary Schools, continues through with all students at Secondary Level and into Post Secondary Institutions.
Parenting Skills are imparted periodically imparted to parents in schools, religious or other cmmunity centres.
The OASI Kids Club organises monthly activities for children aged 10 to 14, giventhem the opportunity to meet other children and together try out new and fun things, whilst being in a safe and supervised environment.
SOHLE – Summer OASI & HSBC Learning Experience – a 4 day camp based on the concept of “edutainment” is one of such activitoes. Its goal is to offer an opportunity for children to distance themselves from the hectic routine of the schooldays. Through games and cultural activities they are assisted to freely relate to others, relax and enjoy themselves in a pleasant and supervised environment.
Community Outreach is regularly maintained through:
Awareness Talk, at community level on different types of drugs and their effects on our physical, social and psychological self held in Parish Youth Centres or other local community centres.
OASI.com Magazine, OASI Foundation’s half yearly publication, is distributed to every household in Gozo. This publication includes internal news on OASI, articles on drugs, alcohol, life skills and general information that one would enjoy reading.
Local Media is opportunely used by the prevention team. The use of Local Radio Stations in towns and villages in Gozo in order to bring more information into the homes keeps the public continuously aware of what the OASI Foundation can do and is doing to help them in times of crisis and needs.
Riflessi Sajfin a 3 hour music concert held in mid-August in Marsalforn, Gozo is organised to encourage new local talent and simultaneously to promote the OASI Foundation’s preventive messages to the general public in a positive mixture of music, dance and song.
The Youth of the Year Award is annually organised to publicly acknowledge the various, voluntary work done by our youths for the good of our society. An Award Giving Ceremony is held under the patronage of His Excellency, the President of Malta, where all participants are publicly acclaimed for their initiatives. The climax of this event is the declaration of one of the participants as their “ambassador” in society for all the youth volunteers during the following year.
Intensive awareness campaigns gradually make people seek immediate assistance. OASI was thus out of necessity compelled to activate a service aligned towards crisis intervention, whereby persons at risk are assisted to acquire or strengthen the basic values of life, beauty and happiness as a recovery strategy from their distress.
OASI Secondary Prevention takes notice of and minds any situation that may lead to the use or abuse of harmful substances. Most of our clients come from Gozo but include also clients from Malta and also foreign residents. Issues dealt with include child and youth assistance, parental and communication skills between couple, marriage counseling, remedial therapy to accompany treatment for depression and analytic therapy.
THE ALTERNATIVE ADDICTION TREATMENT PROGRAMME
The aims of the OASI treatment and rehabilitation programs and their related facilities are to aid persons with addiction problems to recover their personal health and to re-establish themselves in their family and social life.
From its outset, OASI Foundation embarked on the development of a treatment and rehabilitation project for addicts and alcoholics with the development of an alternative treatment possibility to complement the existing treatment programmes run in Malta. In fact, a year after the Foundation was instituted a therapeutic program was selected and approved by the Board of Directors. This program based on the 12 Steps of AA as developed in Minnesota, USA was immediately adopted, tailored out for local needs and put in action at the end of 1992 as an out-patients treatment programme. For the first time in Malta a treatment program unit was opened to treat persons with drugs or alcohol problems for both genders within the same treatment program.
Non-Gozo residents addicts and alcoholics encountered various obstacles when they sought treatment in Gozo due to the difficulty to cross over the channel. With the aim to give the latter the opportunity to try the 12 Steps treatment programme, in 1996, OASI started extending its headquarters. In October 1998 OASI opened its doors for a new challenge, a residential treatment unit using its scanty physical facilities existing then to host 7 people with drug and alcohol related problems. This year the new residential unit was officially opened, catering for a maximum of 15 residents at one time.
Residential Treatment Programme is for hard core addicts due to alcoholism, drugs, gambling or other related addictive behaviours. OASI offers an alternative programme from those offered on island Malta, based on the 12 Steps model and endowed with a very intensive therapy. The treatment is supported by another intensive social reintegration programme at the OASI Half Way House.
Out-Patient Treatment Programme is offered minors or persons with initial addiction problems, where clients came to OASI Centre for one-hour one to one counselling sessions on weekly appointments and also to support group therapy.
Family Support Programme helps family members of addicted persons, including play therapy for child to recover from their co-dependency resulting from stress due their close relationship with the disease of addiction in their family environment.
HALF WAY HOUSE
All clients in recovery are made aware of the fact that the transition from the protective residential setting to a mainstream society is a delicate period in their recovery process – another milestone to be reached. Therefore, although at the end of their primary residential treatment at the OASI Treatment & Rehabilitation Unit clients may find a supportive family environment or an understanding employer to return to, for their treatment programme to persist they require more structural support and are expected to spend a period of time in a residential continued care program (RCCP) at the HWH Unit.
The philosophy of the HWH maintains that through abstinence from mind-altering substances, participation in all the Twelve Steps and the practice in self-discipline and honesty, the recovering person can develop the tools necessary towards a long term, contented sobriety in the outside community. Therefore setting of the OASI HWH provides a social environment that can assist residents to develop further the coping mechanisms and skills necessary to re-enter family, work and society with a lifestyle pattern marked by self-discipline and responsibility free from antisocial attitudes.
The OASI Foundation Management is in the hand of the Board of Directors. Through the implementation of the above mentioned services and others, OASI Foundation is providing a sterling social work in the caring profession to the benefit of our community. It has been, is and will remain a key factor in keeping our young generations as free as possible from the abuse of substances and hazardous lifestyles.