Q&A with Ishmael Shem, Project coordinator with Blue Cross KisumuIshmael ShemProject coordinator Blue Cross Kisumu
1. Why is the work of the Blue Cross important to you?
Volunteering and working for the Blue Cross has opened my perspective of what a life of addiction is. I have learned how the abuse of any drugs leads to a disease that hinders both mental and economic development. Here I find a platform to effect change in lives of individuals and families, enabling them to retake responsibilities that they would have forgone with alcohol in their lives.
2. Are you convinced of the impact of your work – if so, which aspects?
Yes, I am convinced of the impact of our work and touching lives through Blue Cross work is what I will always do. I have seen the impact through rehabilitation and reintegration of families that have lived in the streets, who were previously affected by alcohol and the abuse of other substances; seeing children who were separated from their families re-united; husbands who were abusive to their loved ones now taking up their responsibilities of parenting and providing for them; and women who were brewed alcohol for their livelihood who have now taken up alternative businesses for better health and responsibilities. These are some concrete examples of the impact of our work.
3. What was your happiest moment during your time with Blue Cross?
There have been many happy moments during my time with the Blue Cross. Some success stories through our interventions for the children of alcoholics:
- Several parents came to testify that through their sons and daughters they were able to kick the addiction of alcohol and take up their roles as parents
- One parent reunited with his wife through the intervention of his own daughter, who talked to him and educated him with materials about the dangers of alcohol use and abuse, which he said none of his adult friends had ever told him. As a result, he found work again because he could remain sober
- One father, after quitting drinking, was saved and is now preaching the gospel of love to his friends who were also addicts, to help them reduce their alcohol use.
4. What is/was your biggest challenge in your work for Blue Cross?
My main challenge has been finding a way to work in partnership with the other local branches of Blue Crosses in the country. Working in isolation creates duplication in different direction. Working in a coordinated effort would allow for sharing of resources and ensure that we reach as many people as possible with the same clear message: belief in Jesus Christ is the true salvation from addiction.
5. Blue Cross in your country: What do you consider your most important project?
In Blue Cross Kisumu our main project is working in Prevention Outreaches. Now we are using life Skills Education as our tool of advocacy, to ensure that youth have the skills required to avoid a life of addiction.