Member of the Month

From March 2018, International Blue Cross will publish every month a calendar on its website that presents a member organisation - called member of the month. Members of the Network Committee will contact all member organisations during the next 2 years to collect the necessary information. The member organisations will be presented in English and French. Enjoy discovering every month a member of IBC!

Hungary

January 2019

Overview of Blue Cross Hungary

  • Blue Cross Hungary is doing healing, aftercare and enlightening work
  • They operate a healing home in Dömös and 42 groups nationwide
  • have nearly 20 employees and 81 volunteers
  • Volunteer service is also provided by group leaders and pastors
  • Organize national and regional meetings annually

Q&A with Nemeth Katalin Balogh, President of BC Hongarie

Nemeth Katalin Balogh

1. Why is the work of the Blue Cross important to you?

From God our mission is to proclaim the salvation of Jesus Christ toward people suffering from alcoholism.

2. Are you convinced of the impact of your work – if so, which aspects?

In Hungary, the healing service is recognized nationwide. Healthcare, social and church workers send us the helpers.

3. What was your happiest moment during your time with Blue Cross?

Finding a community of faith during the service.

4. What is/was your biggest challenge in your work for Blue Cross?

Among the common changes, find the way and conditions for further operation.

5. Blue Cross in your country: What do you consider your most important project?

Now and the next year we build a healing home. This construction will help to improve the conditions of our service. So we can pay more attention to our alcoholic brothers.

Poland

November 2018

Overview of Blue Cross Poland

  • Launched in 2001, but the tasks were carried out under a different name since 1997.
  • Main goal: to help people who are going through a life crisis, mainly due to addiction related problems.
  • Run eight centers, where help to addicted persons and their family members is provided. Among them are rehabilitation centres, outpatient clinics, and a mediation centre.
  • Involved in organising events aimed at professionals whose work is focused on education or providing help to others.
  • Develops prevention area by visiting schools and running workshops for children, parents and teachers.
  • Over 120 workers (therapists, psychologists, nurses, physicians, lawyers, administration workers, maintenace workers).  Volunteers provide support in creative areas, like photography, decoration and cooking.

Q&A with Ewa Duda, Addiction Therapist and Conference Coordinator

Eva Duda

1. Why is the work of the Blue Cross important to you?

The mission statement of our Polish branch is to help people in life crisis situations according to the Christian worldview; substance or behavioural addiction and related problems are such crisis situations. One does not need to be a professional to notice that there is a growing number of people with mental problems. Some of them are addictions, and in this sphere we are observing a rise in the number of people escaping through work, gambling, excessive exercise, sexual behaviours, spending time in virtual reality. People are simply looking for something to help them feel better. But it actually enslaves them, and God’s plan for His beloved creation – human beings – is the opposite. Being close to the broken hearted and helping them to change their lives is something very precious to me.

2. Are you convinced of the impact of your work - if so, which aspects?

Yes, I am! I am not reinventing a wheel, but we often forget how important it is to listen. Just to be there, ready to hear the story of somebody’s pain sometimes ask an eye-opening question, sometimes to comfort, and sometimes to motivate the person to keep up their work. I feel privileged to be a companion in a person’s journey to  new life. One of the most inspiring moments is seeing the progress in thinking, acting and living of the people I work with.

3. What was your happiest moment during your time with Blue Cross?

A few weeks ago we were discussing the topic of happiness and its meaning with the residents of our rehab centre. The conclusion was that it is not happiness that is important, but rather the state of being content.  So it is hard to just name one moment and call it the happiest – but there are many occasions when I feel blessed to be doing what I do. Some of them are related to the successes of our clients; to see their lives changing, sobering and thriving is a great reward. But I also enjoy working among self-aware and well-trained professionals who are passionate about their work, and are simply great people! The opportunity to improve my skills and develop personally is no less important. All in all, I feel content working for BC and that’s what matters to me.

4. What is/was your biggest challenge in your work for Blue Cross?

The biggest challenge – and a big advantage, at the same time – is the variety of work possible within BC. On one hand it is something I do enjoy and it gives me a lot of satisfaction. On the other hand, it is sometimes difficult to synchronise everything. And sometimes it is simply fair to admit, “well, not this time – we have to let this new opportunity go, otherwise, we’ll not be able to make it.” I find such decisions very hard to make.

5. Blue Cross in your country: What do you consider your most important project?

As BC Poland we have been involved in the work within substance dependence and related problems. In 2012, we officially started a cooperation with the Fund for Solving Gambling Problems. Since then, this area of work has been constantly growing. Also because behavioural addictions are on the rise, so more and more people need help. Young, digital generations will bring us even more clients. This is why I think we have to reach out to the schools – students, parents and teachers need to know what can bring them probelms and to prevent them. To be honest, I think all of the projects are equally important because they provide integrated and holistic support. We may see a problem in one place, but its root is somewhere else.

Austria

October 2018

Overview of Blus Cross Austria

  • The beginnings go back to 1905, when a number of people founded the first group in Carinthia. Only in 1923 did they officially become the “Blaues Kreuz Österreich”.
  • The BC Austria entirely depends on the work of volunteers. About 30  are leading self-help groups and offering one-on-one counselling. There is only one employee working part- time in admin and communications.

Fields of Work

  • Prevention Work: to raise awareness and sensitise the society as to what alcoholism and addiction actually is and how to help someone dealing with that kind of illness. Through  addiction counsellor seminars, public talks, school visits and leisure opportunities people get information  on the issue.
  • BC Austria runs approximately 30–35 self-help groups as well as one-on-one counselling all over Austria. Regardless of whether someone is suffering from an addiction or just seeking help for a family member or friend, everyone is welcome.

Q&A with Gerhard Wildbichler, Member of the Board, Secretary; Group Leader & Head of counseling center Graz, Steiermark

Gerhard Wildbichler

1. Why is the Blue Cross work important to you?

As somebody with first-hand experience of alcohol addiction, I first came across the Blue Cross during in- patient therapy and from then on I was a regular visitor to the Graz information centre. As is probably the case with most chronic illnesses, which require lifelong after-care, the work of the Blue Cross as well as my own work for them is indispensable in order to live a happy and abstinent life.

2. Are you convinced of the impact of your work - if so, which aspects?

My work for the Blue Cross has opened and continues to open doors to many social environmnents  and areas in the health care system. In my area I am gratetful to have the chance to change people’s attitude to addiction and thanks to God’s grace and professional support which allows me to led an abstinent life and in turn do the same for others.

3. What was your happiest moment during your time with Blue Cross?

Through my many years of working with the Blue Cross, I have been able to show those suffering from addiction and their familes that asking for and accepting help is not a sign of weakness but of strength. I cannot pinpoint one specific moment of satisfaction but I feel deeply moved  when I can accompany people, whose lives are marked by suffering and misfortune, some  of the way and share their happiness.

4. What is/was your biggest challenge in your work for Blue Cross?

Basically each task related to our activities and those of the information centre presents a new challenge. Just as each person is different so are their worries and fears and this calls for a high level of consideration for each other. My biggest challenge is crisis intervention and how to deal with suicide threats or visits to prisons, clinics and similar  institutions where sufferers and their relatives both need support.

5. Blue Cross in your country: What do you consider as your most important project?

As a member of the Board of the Austrian BC I have the opportunity to participate directly and indirectly in developing projects. As a speaker in our addiction advisor seminars, professional training and life long learning for our employees is a priority as well as the sharing of professional resources through seminars, workshops, round tables and similar events in schools, companies, associations and other interest groups.

Brasil

September 2018

Fields of Work

  • Prevention Work: Prevention team is composed of currently 5 hired professionals, 3  outsourced employees and 10 volunteers, with more than 50,000 people assisted per year.
  • In 2018 BC Brasil is running 5 projects linked to the municipal councils of Blumenau and Gaspar. These councils have diversified proposals  for prevention attendance besides both sole (punctual) and continuous prevention programs.
  • Network of Mutual Groups Help (Adults): 110  groups
  • Network of KIDS Support Groups: 36 groups
  • Continuing Education: Training of 1.000 people per year in extension courses, postgraduate and free courses
  • Editions: Literature in the area of prevention, treatment and social reintegration (Printed and online editions)
  • Psychosocial Ambulatory Service Individual (Psychological): 1 hired professional. On average of 400 people are assisted each year.
  • Public Policies of Alcohol and Other Drugs

Q&A with Alana Sieves Wendenhausen, Coordinator of Prevention Area

Alana Sieves Wendenhausen

1. Why is the Blue Cross work important to you?

Because it does not let me stagnate either as a professional or as a person. It is so exciting, that I want to continuously pursue new knowledge to improve my  work. In the Blue Cross, I have both professional freedom and I work as part of a team – part of a family. Each child or adolescent that I meet shows me how I can be a better person and this motivates me!

2. Are you convinced of the impact of your work - if so, which aspects?

Yes. The growing number of approaches used for prevention by the Blue Cross in Brazil over the few last years that bring innovative proposals and the constant evaluation — or the search for methods already evaluated and proven by their efficacy —as well as the feedback we receive from the public we have assisted.

3. What was your happiest moment during your time with Blue Cross?

Do I have to choose just one? There are several! All of the projects have a certain moment — I can’t spot exactly when, but usually in the last phases — when you start observing that more than the objective has been concluded in each child or adolescent. I start thinking about what they were like when I met them and how they behave today. They are fun without being silly; they were totally immature regarding many things, but now they know how to have a position or opinion, how to make a difference. This is really beautiful in my eyes.

4. What is/was your biggest challenge in your work for Blue Cross?

The beginning of my work in prevention was a challenge as a whole. Everything was quite new for me because up to that time I used to work on the treatment of the chemical dependence. Currently, the biggest challenge is the scientific evidence of the efficacy of our work; this is one of my main objectives in the work of prevention of the Blue Cross in Brazil.

5. Blue Cross in your country: What do you consider as your most important project?

The set of services rendered by the projects. There is no project that is more important than another: all of them are part of a process of bringing LIFE to the people.

Madagascar

August 2018

Overview of Blue Cross Madagascar

  • 1893: Creation of the association « Abstinent women » by the wife of an American missionary (Mary Clément Leavitt)
  • 04 juin 1928: Official founding of Blue Cross
  • 28 juin 1955: Recognition as public utility service
  • The Madagascar Blue Cross is present in 18 out of 22 regions
  • All members are volunteers
  • Principal activities: Alcohol policy, structural prevention

Q&A with Rasolomanana Holiarisoa Fanjanirina, National Coordinator

Rasolomanana Holiarisoa Fanjanirina

1. Why is the Blue Cross work important to you?

I am a gift from God to the world. What will I bring into the world that God has sent to  me? Because God loves us unconditionally and without limits. I am convinced that I was called to work in the Blue Cross and this is important to me.

2. Are you convinced of the impact of your work - if so, which aspects?

In 2004, after a training we had in Majunga, a woman (more than 70 years  of age) approached me to congratulate me and to tell me that my presence reminded her of her childhood in the Blue Cross and that, for her, I was the image of Rapaoly Ernest (a very active member of the Blue Cross at that time). She believed greatly in the future of the Blue Cross in Madagascar. Since the training in alcohol policy, our approach has changed.

3. What was your happiest moment during your time with Blue Cross?

To improve the image of the Blue Cross is my objective. My third conference at the International Blue Cross in Nairobi in 2012 where we reflected on the values of the Blue Cross (leadership & spirituality) was my happiest moment during my time working for the Blue Cross. This event had a great effect on me and increased my commitment.

4. What is/was your biggest challenge in your work for Blue Cross?

The training on alcohol policy in 2011 with the Norwegian Blue Cross was important for us in Madagascar
(triangle of prevention). Understanding the best approach in order to progress is very important
(evidence.based) but passing this on and ensuring its application in order to be more effective in our work is still a substantial challenge (follow-up activities on alcohol policy).

5. Blue Cross in your country: What do you consider as your most important project?

Important projects:

  • Continue to make progress on alcohol policy
  • Complete the construction of our new centre
  • Create income-generating activities : job creation, stable sources of employment for the youth

Sweden

July 2018

Overview of Blue Cross Sweden (Blå Bandet)

  • In Sweden the name is Blue Ribbon, introduced 1883
  • Non-governmental and democratic organization with a national union, 11 regional and approximately 60 local organizations
  • One person is employed by the national organization
  • 4800 members who have promised to be totally sober
  • Work preventively from informing young people and adults about the risks of alcohol and drugs. Furthermore, to ensure that the country has a still restrictive policy by talking with politicians at different levels

Q&A with Per-Olof Svensson, General Secretary Blå Bandet

Per-Olof Svensson

1. Why is the Blue Cross work important to you?

The best way to avoid alcohol and drug abuse is never to start drinking alcohol or using drugs. Therefore, we inspire young people not to start and adults to think about their alcohol consumption to reduce or stop drinking completely.

2. Are you convinced of the impact of your work - if so, which aspects?

Yes, unless we and our related organizations worked for this, there would be more problems with abuse.

3. What was your happiest moment during your time with Blue Cross?

When I organized a family event with entertainment and related to this, I told the audience about our work. A grandmother came to me afterwards telling me that she thinks what we do is important and she has stopped drinking alcohol since she had grandchildren.

4. What is/was your biggest challenge in your work for Blue Cross?

To get more money to make more information projects. To inspire our local organizations to do more.

5. Blue Cross in your country: What do you consider as your most important project?

The closest thing is to pay attention to parents thinking about their alcohol consumption, which is often higher during the summer, which may adversely affect the children. We are co- organizing over 40 different seminars on alcohol and drugs for one week at Sweden's largest national political arrangement.

Tanzania

June 2018

Overview of Blue Cross Tansania

  • Non-governmental organization
  • Voluntary organization. The Blue Cross is introduced in early 1996. Founded in 2006.
  • 10 volunteers work for BC Tanzania
  • Active in the regions of Arusha, Morogoro - Ifakara, Mwanza and Mtwara.
  • Main areas of activity: prevention and education (especially young people), fight against poverty, HIV / AIDS and social exclusion especially in relation to alcohol and other drugs. Provide information to the community about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse.
  • Protect children and educate people on the consequences of alcohol and substance abuse by building awareness.

Q&A with Dr. Robert Mlugu, Member of BC Tanzania

Dr. Robert Mlugu

1. Why is the Blue Cross work important to you?

Because it helps to change the lives of people affected by drug and alcohol abuse by building awareness. It has changed my life. I used to drink every day. The Blue Cross members taught me how to stop, influencing and transforming my life. My family is shappy with this transformation and I am free. The money used to buy bottles of beer is now used to buy food and other essentials for my family and to send my children to school.

2. Are you convinced of the impact of your work - if so, which aspects?

Yes I am convinced of the impact of my work. Awareness-building programmes have improved the lives of those people affected. The work and influence of the Blue Cross is very important. I was nothing to my family, I didn't support them and I would beat my children when I returned home from the local bar.

3. What was your happiest moment during your time with Blue Cross?

When I was introduced to the Blue Cross Tanzania prevention programme, their objectives and values, I learnt about the effects of alcohol on my health. The programme influences young people in their attitude and behaviour towards drugs and how drugs and alcohol can ruin their lives.

4. What is/was your biggest challenge in your work for Blue Cross?

For me Blue Cross Tanzania is an organization which educates and transforms people's lives. However, due to a lack of funds, the BC cannot expand and open more centres. This is a big challenge.

5. Blue Cross in your country: What do you consider as your most important project?

The most important programme in my country is the prevention programme because it tackles issues to improve people's lives and the life of the community.

Romania

May 2018

Overview of Blue Cross Romania

  • Founded in 1990
  • Humanitarian organisation (NGO) based in Sibu in the centre of Romania
  • 10 employees and 20 volunteers
  • Primiary missions are to help victims of addiction to alcohol, drugs and gambling, to help families affected by the addiction of a family member and to help children and young people to avoid abuse and sbstance abuse

Activities

  • Manage the first two treatment centres for addicted persons in Romania: ”House Nazareth” for Men with 25 places and ”Island Of Hope” for Women with 10 places
  • Prevention campaigns in Schools and Camps
  • Support Groups
  • Media Campaigns
  • Trainings in Addiction Care

Q&A with Holger Lux, manager of Rehabilitation Center "House Nazareth"

Holger Lux

1. Why is the Blue Cross work important to you?

First of all because I know from my parents’ house what alcohol addiction means. But now my family is glad that for nearly 30 years my father - a medical doctor - has overcome his addiction. But also because I live and work as a medical doctor and psychotherapist in Romania - a country ranked by the WHO among the first ten in the world for alcohol consumption. Our society has to pay a high prize for that.
I learnt at the beginning of my work for Blue Cross from my old friend Klaus Richter, the actual president of Blue Cross Germany, that to work in addiction care means "to accept a man just as he comes, to help him to get again on his feet, to accompany him for a while and then to let him go, to continue his way on his own."

2. Are you convinced of the impact of your work - if so, which aspects?

Yes, the work of Blue Cross Romania, started in 1990 immediately after the fall of the communist regime, definitely makes a difference in our country. Blue Cross Romania opened the first two treatment centers for recovery from addiction in our country - "House Nazareth" for men and "Island Of Hope" for women. Meanwhile over 2.500 people got the chance to change their lives in our therapeutic communities. And also our message reaches an important part of our society.

3. What was your happiest moment during your time with Blue Cross?

There were many happy moments during the last 20 years. Maybe the happiest was in July 2013 at the opening of the new house of our treatment center for men, built with strong support from IBC. Ronald Hansen, a leader from Blue Cross Norway, who wrote the story "The Potters House" as an inspiration for the diaconal work of the Blue Cross was present at the event and said that his vision had become true in Romania.

4. What is/was your biggest challenge in your work for Blue Cross?

The biggest challenge is that the needs for addiction care in our country are very huge - we estimate over 1 million alcohol addicts for a population of 20 million - but the resources we have are very small. The support of the state is more symbolic. Blue Cross Romania is one of the few NGOs working in this field. The challenge is that we have to constantly find and secure the resources we need to continue our work.

5. Blue Cross in your country: What do you consider as your most important project?

Let me put it in the words of Geir Gunderson, past president of IBC: "My deepest concern is to increase quality in all aspects of Blue Cross work (worldwide): professional, human resources, finances - and spiritual!! We need to prevent a fragmented reality and further the holistic one.”

South Africa

April 2018

Overview of Blue Cross South Africa

  • Established in 2008
  • Improve social and economic lives of people in South Africa Work is driven by 80 volunteers
  • Active in 4 regions. Giyani serves as its headquarters
  • Focus of the 2 regions Mopani and Soutpansberg: educational programs for children, working together with the Department of Education. These programs include Christian talks at schools, after-care programs for children and Girl Guides.
  • Focus on the 2 regions Soweto and Tshwan: elderly, who suffer from the consequences of addiction to alcohol and drugs of their children and grandchildren. Here BC uses the Christian- approach and health drives to educate all people.

Q&A with Mrs. Doris V Hlaise, Deputy General Secretary

Mrs. Doris V Hlaise

1. Why is the Blue Cross work important to you?

It is important to me because we are helping people who are suffering from drugs and substance abuse. Moreover, we concentrate on the youth because they are tomorrow's nation.

2. Are you convinced of the impact of your work - if so, which aspects?

Yes, it has an impact. In 2015 we adopted a child who had left school for 2 years while he was in grade 11. Now the boy is in university thanks to the Blue Cross. We visited his family over time, and eventually we won him.

3. What was your happiest moment during your time with Blue Cross?

My happiest moment is to see that there are boys and girls who are listening to us. We succeeded in saving one girl and one boy. The girl was 13 years old and she abandoned by her parents. We went there and managed to win this child, she is now in grade 11.

4. What is/was your biggest challenge in your work for Blue Cross?

Our biggest challenge is the parents who also drink or do drugs. So it is so difficult to win the children because they see their parents doing the same thing that we are fighting against.

5. Blue Cross in your country: What do you consider as your most important project?

The most important thing that we have to do is to educate our people to understand that drugs are not good for their health and the health of their children. It is what we are trying to do. Through the help of our Almighty God, I have no doubt we will win.

Switzerland

March 2018

Overview of Blue Cross Switzerland

  • National umbrella organisation of Switzerland for prevention, health promotion, counseling, aftercare and integration
  • Present in 19 cantons
  • 160 employees plus volunteers
  • Member associations and specialists network through committees, commissions and further education creating a bridge between German and French- speaking areas
  • A dense network of specialist agencies, each embedded in national and cantonal alcohol policies. The wide network, specialists with recognised qualifications and knowledge as well as a high level of standardisation of the service provision are convincing arguments for the service users and partners.

Q&A with Sara Gerber, National Coordinator Roundabout

Sara Gerber

1. Why is the Blue Cross work important to you?

It is rewarding to work for an organisation, which responds to the real challenges of our society.

2. Are you convinced of the impact of your work - if so, which aspects?

As the national coordinator I’m relatively removed from the girls  and young women in the roundabout groups. But when I meet them and see in their eyes what roundabout means to them, I am more convinced than ever of the service provided. Roundabout is a street-dance network for girls and young women between 8 and 20 years old. The dancers discover their passion for dance and movement, their self- esteem is reinforced and integration into the group is encouraged.

3. What was your happiest moment during your time with Blue Cross?

I enjoy the passion and the commitment of the cantonal roundabout leaders to their work. I don’t take the opportunity to work with such a dynamic team for granted. I’m happy that we help 1000 girls in Switzerland to be physically active and through this they can be part of a group. I’m also delighted to see how many young women volunteer to become group leaders every week. It’s simply fantastic and a reason to be happy every day!

4. What is/was your biggest challenge in your work for Blue Cross?

As the national coordinator, I’m faced with many different needs and opinions. Finding common ground is not always easy. I would prefer if resource procurement/raising funds/financing were not such a big issue.

5. Blue Cross in your country: What do you consider as your most important project?

Through Blue Cross, I meet all kinds of people of all ages and backgrounds. I find this so interesting! For each individual the most important project is the one that removes him from the situation he is in and gives him stability and a way forward. So it’s difficult for me to say. Looking at the greater picture, I’m glad that Blue Cross is an important and recognised organisation for addiction in Switzerland with much to offer the community. I hope that we can continue to build on this in the future.