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Ukraine: Harm Reduction Activists Improve Storytelling Skills

On March 17, 2011 in the Ukrainian city Dnepropetrovsk, the patients of substitution therapy programs took part in a training event ‘We are Media’. The training was aimed at the creation of a team of patients representing various regions of Ukraine who were willing to write about their experience as a harm reduction program participants. All of the participants of the training were members of the Association of the Substitution Therapy Advocates of Ukraine [ru]which unites patients in defending their rights and prompting the harm reduction programs. The training event was supported by the Renaissance Foundation.

During the training event

A participant of the training from Kirovograd, Viktoria Kabachenko-Lintsova shared her impressions of the training in the postpublished on the blog of the Association of the Substitution Therapy Advocates. Here is how she introduced herself.

… я – гражданка Вселенной, с открытой душой, 35 лет отроду, порой влюбленная в жизнь, порой утопающая в депрессии, а все потому что наркозависимая… Жизнь свою излагать не буду – она для наркоманов типична – взлеты, падения и т.п. Так вот в период очередного падения выхода не видя , я и стала участницей программы ЗПТ, и , на самом деле, очень собой довольна ныне…И не то, чтобы я отношу себя к слабым ( т.е. к тем что не способны жить, не употребляя наркотики), а если, скажем, представить, что жизнь – река, то все дело в том, что воды вроде и не боюсь, но не уверена, что хорошо плаваю. Вот программа ЗПТ и стала для меня, своего рода, спасательным кругом.

I am a citizen of the Universe with an open soul. I am 35, and sometimes I fall in love with life, and sometimes I sink into depression because I am a drug addict… I will not talk much about my life – it is typical for a drug addict – ups and downs… So, during one of my ‘downs’ and when I did not see any other solution, I became a patient of a substitution therapy program and, in fact, I am very happy because of it… It is not that I consider myself a weak person (to those who are not able to live without drugs), but if, for example, we imagine that a life is a river, I would say that I am not afraid of water, but I am not sure I can swim well enough… So the substitution therapy program became a sort of ‘life buoy’ for me.

During the training event

Participants of the training were selected from the activists of the self-support groups from various regions of Ukraine. Here is what Victoria wrote about the people she met during the training:

.. на тренинг пригласили людей, которые уже сегодня проводят на местах информационную деятельность: распространяют информацию о новостях сообщества ЗПТ, пишут статьи о ситуации в своём регионе, создают новые цепочки для нашего общения.

The training event united people who are already involved in awareness work in their communities by spreading the news about the substitution therapy community, writing articles about the situation in their regions, and creating new communications networks.

Viktoria was very satisfied with the content and administration of the training. She wrote:

Что больше всего впечатлило меня лично – обстановка, организация и проведение были очень уютными, почти «домашними», порадовало все: расположение гостиницы, обстановка, ведущие и организаторы. Принимающая сторона предусмотрела даже транспортировку на сайт для получения препаратов ЗПТ …

Информационное наполнение тренинга было насыщенным, но интересным, практические навыки отрабатывались сразу же, каждому предоставлялась возможность радостного творчества…

Тарас Ратушный, наш тренер, и Анастасия Безверхая (медиа-консультант) показали себя настоящими профессионалами, и, что немаловажно были весьма открыты для общения, делились опытом. Они, в общем, не такие как мы, но я почувствовала, что нас, ЗПТшников, принимают и уважают. И это здорово! В такой обстановке можно не только эффективно учится, но и расти!

What I was impressed the most was that the atmosphere, the arrangements, and way the training was organized. It was very cozy, I felt like home and I liked everything: the location of the hotel, facilities, trainers, and administrators. The hosting organization also organized transportation to the substitution therapy site where we received the medication.

The content of the training was very rich and interesting, we had a chance to try out our new knowledge right away and everybody had an opportunity for joyful creativity…

Taras Ratushnyy, out trainer and Anastasia Bezverhka (media-consultant) proved to be real professionals and, what was very important, they were open for communication and shared their experiences. In general, they are different from us, but I had a feeling that they understood and respected us, the patients of the substitution therapy programs. And this was great! In such environment it was possible to lean and to grow!

During the training event

At the end of the article Viktoria shared her future plans and projects concerning the work as a harm reduction activist. She stated:

Общение с членами Ассоциации участников ЗПТ: …оставило во мне такой теплый и яркий след, что я всерьез планирую развивать у себя в Кировограде движение самопомощи ЗПТшников, защищать человеческие и пациентские права участников программы. А впоследствии, если будет энергия – мечтаю создать организацию, которая будет работать с этой целевой группой и для нее…

Писать я очень люблю, и стихи и немного прозу, но благодаря тренингу, я узнала о правилах написания материала, и старалась использовать их при создании данной статьи.

The conversations with the members of the Association of the Substitution Therapy Advocates … left such a warm and bright impressions that I now am seriously planning to develop a self-support movement for the substitution therapy patients in my city of Kirovograd, and to defend human and patients’ rights of the participants of the program. Later on, if I have enough energy, I dream of starting an organization which will work for this community…

I like writing, I write poetry and sometimes prose, but thanks to the training I learned the rules of storytelling and tried to use this rule while writing this article.

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