Egyptian: Minister of Social Solidarity Nevine Al-Qabbaj. Photo courtesy of State Information Service website.
Minister of Social Solidarity Nevine Al-Qabbaj, who is also chairman of the Fund for Drug Control and Treatment of Addiction (FDCTA), feted the winners of the Sports Championship sponsored by the Fund for Recovered Youth Addicts. The championship was named “Recovery Championship: You Are Stronger than Drugs”. Winners received medals and the Championship cup. Al-Qabbaj also presented the tournament’s medal to Hossam Mohamed Hussein who won the National Kickboxing Championship and participated in qualifiers for Egypt’s Sambo team and completed the Sambo Coaches Course.
The celebration at the Olympic Centre in Maadi was attended by Minister of Youth and Sports Ashraf Sobhi; FDCTA Director Amr Osman; the regional representative of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime; several members of parliament and the Shura Council; and media personalities and artists. Legendary footballer Ahmed Shubair was the commentator for the championship.
The ceremony began with one minute of silence in honour of former defence minister Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi who died last week, in remembrance of his many contributions to the nation.
At the event, Al-Qabbaj said that Hotline 16023 operates around the clock all week to field calls from addicts and their families. All services are free, confidential and according to global standards. FDCTA centres provide social, psychological and athletic rehabilitation, she added, and that Hussein’s national victory in kickboxing sent a message of hope to youths. “Any young person who has fallen victim to drug addiction can recover,” she said.
At a news conference on the sidelines of the Sports Championship for Recovered Addicts, Al-Qabbaj said this was the fourth tournament of the “You Are Stronger Than Drugs” campaign, which this year was held under the banner “Recovery is Victory”. Some 160 recovered addicts from 13 governorates participated in this year’s tournament.
She said the tournament sends many messages, but the most important is: “Your greatest victory is your recovery, which is crowned with your return to society,” Al-Qabbaj said. “Sports are also key to improving your self-esteem and plays a vital role in rehabilitation».
The second message is to drug addicts who have not yet sought help. “Today, we are standing with 160 recovered addicts who are living examples of recovery and hope in treatment. They have rejected the dark culture of drugs that claims there is no hope for treatment or recovery,” she said. Al-Qabbaj’s message to the despondent and unsure is: “No, there is hope and all you have to do is decide and desire treatment. We have 160 athletes here who decided to embrace life with passion, and some 140,000 addicts annually who benefit from free and confidential addiction treatment services through Hotline 16023.”
She noted that all FDCTA affiliates who partner with Hotline 16023 include physical and athletic rehabilitation for drug addicts, and integrate high quality sports programmes for patients with the aim of making sports an integral part of their lives. Al-Qabbaj said she was pleased the sports programme in Minya returned recovered kickboxing champion Hussein to society. “This accomplishment truly warmed our hearts,” she said.
Al-Qabbaj said her ministry focuses on recovered addicts with an eye on comprehensive social development for this key contingent. “We focus on psychological and social rehabilitation for all addicts and family counseling for their relatives,” she said, “as well as economic empowerment through vocational training in skills that are on high demand in the labour market.”
So far, 6,000 recovered addicts have received vocational training and funding for small projects worth LE5.2 million through the Nasser Social Bank. The first Azeema rehab centre built by recovered addicts will open in Qena in late October, which brings the number of rehabilitation centres to 28 in 18 governorates, compared to 12 in seven governorates in 2014.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 30 September, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly