Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hopeful Way House & Oxford House

The establishment of Hopeful Way House in Accra, Ghana is being based on the successful model of Oxford House International Below are some questions and answers on Oxford Houses. Please give us your thoughts about the use of the Oxford House approaches in Ghana.


Questions and Answers

Q. What is an Oxford House?

Oxford House is a self-run, self-supported recovery house concept and system of operation for individuals recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction. Oxford Houses assure an alcohol and drug-free living environment. The first Oxford House was started in Silver Spring, Maryland in 1975.

Q. Who manages an Oxford House?

Oxford Houses are democratically self-run by the residents who elect officers to serve for terms of six months. In this respect, they are similar to a college fraternity or sorority. However, if a majority of residents believe that any member has relapsed into using alcohol or drugs, that person is immediately expelled. There are no resident counselors in an Oxford House.

Q. How long can anyone live in an Oxford House?

A recovering individual can live in an Oxford House for as long as he or she does not drink alcohol, does not use drugs, and pays an equal share of the house expenses. The average stay is about a year, but many residents stay three, four, or more years. There is no pressure on anyone in good standing to leave.

Q. Why is Oxford House self-run?

Oxford Houses are self-run because (1) this permits individuals in recovery to learn responsibility, and (2) the lower cost associated with self-run housing permits extensive replication of houses. Each House is fully responsible for its own expenses and debts which will not and cannot be assumed by the National Organization of Oxford Houses.

Q. How can one get into an Oxford House?

Any recovering alcoholic or drug addict can apply to get into any Oxford House by filling out an application and being interviewed by the existing members of the House. The application is then considered by the membership of the House and if there is a vacancy and if 80% of the members approve, the applicant is accepted and moves in.

Q. What if there is not an Oxford House in the area or there are no vacancies in any Oxford House in the region?

Any Group of recovering individuals can start a new Oxford House. All they need to do is to find a house to rent in the name of the Group, and apply to Oxford House, Inc., for a charter. The house must be able to accomodate at least six residents.

Q. Is there any financial aid available to start a new Oxford House?

Yes, some states have in place a revolving loan fund that can make loans to cover the first month's rent and security deposit (up to $4000) to rent a house in a good neighborhood. If a state has a revolving recovery home start-up loan fund, the group must repay the loan within two years in 24 installments. Check the Single State Director list to get a telephone number or an email address for your state's substance abuse office and ask them if a loan fund is available. If it is not available groups can pool resources to come up with the first month’s rent on a house and security deposit or find a local source such as a church, foundation, business or treatment provider for a start-up loan. Historically, all kinds of funding sources have help to start new Oxford Houses. The first Oxford House was started because a member of AA loaned the men $750 for the first month’s rent. Repayment of the first loans in an area makes loans to start future houses possible. A good reputation builds confidence.

Q. Can the new house become affiliated with Oxford House?

Yes, by simply writing or calling Oxford House to ask for a Charter application. Once that application is completed and received by Oxford House, Inc., a "Conditional Charter" will be granted to the house at no cost. A “Permanent Charter” is granted once the group demonstrates that it understands and is following the Oxford House system of operation. It is also granted free of charge.

Q. Can an Oxford House be started without a loan from the state?

Yes, the prospective residents of the House can find a suitable house, rent it, put up the security deposit and pay the first month's rent themselves. Oxford House, Inc. will consider favorably a Charter application whether or not a loan is received from the State or some other outside source.

Q. Can both men and women live in the same Oxford House?

No. Experience has shown that Oxford Houses work for both men and women, but not in the same house.

Q. What is the "ideal" number of individuals to make a self-run, self-supported recovery house work well?

Experience of Oxford House has shown that from 8 to 15 members works very well. Oxford House will not charter a house with fewer than six individuals because experience has shown that it takes at least six individuals to form an effective group.

Q. How much sobriety or clean time is needed before an individual can be accepted into an Oxford House?

There is no time limit. Generally an individual comes into an Oxford House following a 28-day rehabilitation program or at least 10-day detoxification program.

Q. What is Oxford House Inc.?

Oxford House Inc., is a non-profit, tax exempt, publicly supported corporation which acts as a umbrella organization for the national network of Oxford Houses. It provides quality control by organizing regional Houses into Chapters and by relying heavily upon the national network of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous groups. While Oxford House is not affiliated with AA or NA, its members realize that recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction can only be assured by the changing of their lifestyle through full participation in AA and NA. In most communities, the members of those organizations help Oxford Houses get started and report any charter compliance problems to the national office of Oxford House World Services with respect to a particular house. As soon as Oxford House Inc., hears of such problems, it takes corrective action because the good name of Oxford House is an important factor in the recovery of thousands of individuals.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Mushrooms, Snails and Moringa

On 7th February Agnes and I spent the day at Hopeful Way House with two Peace Corps Volunteers, environmentalists, who are assisting with the introduction of agricultural activities at the House. The raising of mushrooms and snails and the growing of moringa trees are expected to be maintained by the residents of the House and to possibly generate some income. With the assistance of carpenters who were making beds for the House, a pen for snails was constructed and a thatched roof structure is being put up to provide shade for the mushrooms. A group of ten students from Agape Children’s Home came to the site and participated in the discussions led by PCVs Ira and Travis. The Agape students are in the process of collecting 2,000 “pure water” sachets to be used to germinate moringa seedlings. The House is situated on a plot that is nearly half an acre in size and will utilize harvested rain water to grow vegetables and other crops. Two underground tanks and gutters were installed last week to harvest water. We are waiting for the first rains to fall in April or possibly sooner.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hopeful Way House to Open


Letters are going out to hospitals, clinics, medical personnel and to others that Hopeful Way House will begin taking in residents on 1st March or possibly sooner. By 7th February, the House had water from its well, beds with mattresses, a gas cooker, a fridge and even a few chairs and other odds and ends. Gutters now ring the roof to catch rain water and to store it in two large underground cisterns/reservoirs. James Ashiley expects that the rains are likely to begin in Oyarifa in April. By the way, James is our enthusiastic contractor responsible for the construction of the very beautiful Hopeful Way House. He lives a ten minute walk from the house and makes daily visits to see that all is in order. James has been a dedicated contractor and says that he wants to continue to be involved with the House to see that it is successfully used to rehabilitate alcoholics and drug addicts.

If you are living in Ghana, please keep in mind that we will be taking in residents who have successfully gone through detox and rehabilitation. The minimum stay at the House will be three months, and it will be only for those who we believe have a sincere desire to remain clean or sober. Before being accepted into the House, an applicant must be approved by 80% of the existing residents in the House and by Hopeful Way Foundation. The current monthly charges will be GHC75.00 (about USD60.00), residents must work at a paid or volunteer job and residents must take care of the household tasks and chores at the house. No food or counseling will be provided by the House but the residents and Hopeful Way Foundation will assist in organising AA and NA meetings, educational and cultural activities and the growing of vegetables, including mushrooms and snails, on the half acre plot. Thirty moringa trees are bearing leaves and “drumsticks”. If residents are interested in acquiring specific skills while in the House, the Foundation will try to help with this where possible.

Dan O’Laughlin

Public Information Meeting Eastern Region

On Friday afternoon, February 6th the Koo Tufoo AA Meeting sponsored a public information forum on alcoholism in the town of Kukurantumi, Eastern Region. For those of you who don't live in Ghana, this is about a two hour drive from Accra. With the support of the new chief for such a forum, the chief’s palace was secured as the site of the forum. The town elders were informed of the meeting and a town crier was sent through the town early Friday morning to announce the forum. In addition to the above publicity for the forum, each of the AA members sought to bring several people who would benefit from information about alcoholism.
At three thirty in the afternoon the public forum began with King David, a speaker from the Accra AA groups, giving background information on the disease of alcoholism. Over thirty five men and women attended, with a slight majority of the attendees being women. After King David’s talk the floor was opened for questions, and a number of attendees asked pertinent questions about alcoholism and drug addiction.
Next, some of the Koo Tufoo AA group members shared their struggles with alcoholism and their current sobriety. Pamphlets about alcoholism were distributed as well as two humorous and informative pieces of literature written by a local recovering alcoholic.
The forum lasted for an hour and a half. Several members of the audience expressed the desire during and after the forum to attend the Koo Tufoo AA meeting so as to receive help with their addiction.

Kirt Bromley
Koo Tufoo AA Meeting

Vision for Recovery in Ghana

Realization of a vision to help alcoholics in Ghana
As we begin the new year of 2009 we are beginning to see the realization of a vision to help men and women of Ghana who are struggling to achieve sobriety in their addiction to alcohol. It became apparent to a number of people several years ago that an effective and thorough treatment of alcoholism in Ghana required the development of halfway houses for people in the initial stages of recovery from alcoholism. Presently there are very few facilities at which alcoholics can be treated medically, and none which allow long term treatment of alcoholism. This is now changing with the construction of Hopeful Way House in Oyarifa, Accra. In March of this year this facility will be open to accept alcoholics who require living arrangements which support their sobriety.

A Second Halfway House
Four years ago a house was constructed in Kukurantumi in the Eastern Region which also had the same goal as Hopeful Way House. This house was unable to be opened however due to lack of a reliable water source for the facility and the absence of a operational structure for the facility. Things have now changed. In December of 2008 this facility received a for a bore hole which is now completed and in operation. Secondly, as the operational model of Oxford Homes is enacted and adopted at Hopeful Way House, it is our plan to use this to open the Kukurantumi house as a halfway house in 2010.

The Broader Vision
Many men and women who are concerned about expanding the benefits of sobriety throughout Ghanaian society have a hope. Our hope is that as men and women achieve a stable sobriety in their recovery they will become effective catalysts in attracting other men and women to a sober life. Just as the proverb says, actions speak louder than words, so we believe that sober men and women practicing a sober life as taught in AA, and meeting regularly to share the journey, will show Ghanaian society the way to a sober life. The treatment centers and halfway houses are key ingredients in this expansion. To be sober, men and women have to be deadly serious about living with their disease. Without a commitment to sobriety, maintained by continual study and meetings, men and women will slip in their recovery and ultimately fail to inspire others to a sober life. Nothing succeeds like success. Sobriety will attract people. One often hears the following phrase at the close of AA meetings in the US, “Keep coming back, it works.” As the number of sober men and women in recovery increases, so will the attraction to a life in AA increase.

Kirt Bromley
Koo Tufoo AA Meeting