Blue Cross Chad has found that amongst the main risk factors associated with the onset of alcohol dependence are a difficult social environment, discontinuing school and exposure to networks of peers who are already dependant or demonstrate high risk behaviour. Blue Cross Chad is therefore reaching out to and assisting disadvantaged children from difficult backgrounds who are threatened by school failure and often belong to families affected by alcohol-related harm.
The Wider Context in which Blue Cross Chad Works
Blue Cross Chad is carrying out this important prevention programme in an environment where there is limited awareness of the short and longer term effects of alcohol and drug misuse. In addition, laws and regulations relating to the availability and use of alcohol are not fully developed. Within this context, Blue Cross’s Chad prevention initiative is of particular importance – as it gives these children at risk a new, positive outlook on life.
Some important facts and figures:
- Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world with an average daily income of 1.5 $ per capita (UNDP, 2009).
- School dropout rates are very high, especially among disadvantaged children resulting in a literacy rate that is extremely low – 31.8% (UNDP, 2009)!
- Alcohol is cheap and very widely available. The suburbs of Chagoua and Dembé (N’Djamena) – where Blue Cross Chad works – have 1 bar per 1000 people, while the law prescribes not more than 1 bar per 4000 people.
The project: Alcohol and Drug Prevention for Children at Risk
Early in 2010, Blue Cross Chad initiated a prevention project for 50 deprived children (29 girls and 21 boys) between the ages of 8 and 12. The children all have difficulties at school and at home leading to difficult behaviour and poor school performance. The project has the following main components:
- Life skills training: Developing interpersonal and psycho-social skills through cultural and socio-pedagogical activities such as drama, puppet plays, and sports.
- Education: Helping children with their homework to increase their chance of schooling completion.
- Care: Providing care and relational support, warm meals, clothing and care for hygiene in the Blue Cross centre. In addition, medical care is provided if needed through a local health centre.
- Home visits: Visiting children and families at home to integrate parents and other family members into the developmental activities. As other family members may be alcohol dependent, Blue Cross Chad works to help them seek professional help, which, in turn, benefits the children.
Your Participation is Welcome and Vital!
Much progress has been made, however Blue Cross Chad is still short of notebooks, pens, textbooks, gym shoes, and theatre costumes for the courses. Our appeal to our readers is to help Blue Cross Chad acquire these commonplace, yet much needed materials.