In the local community, about 70 per cent of those between the ages of 18 and 30 years consume alcohol in excessive quantities. The high incidence of alcoholism in local fishing communities is associated with a number of social and economic problems, including:
- Domestic violence
- Consequently reduced household incomes and increased debt
- Inter- and intra-community conflict
- Mental illness and suicide
As a result of the devastation of the tsunami in 2004, the problem of alcoholism was exacerbated, as the local community tried to cope with the emotional, physical and financial losses caused. Thus, as part of the Post Tsunami Health Care and Research Project, to address this problem, TEWFI developed a number of initiatives.
Primarily, it provides a counselling service for both alcoholics and those affected by alcoholism. TEWFI is also working together with students from Anna University, Chennai. These students visited Alamparai and performed a street play and a drama both aimed at alcohol awareness for the local youth. TEWFI also provided six days of training for these students in the counselling of cases of alcohol addiction.
TEWFI has been continuing this awareness programme through rallies, displays of awareness posters in the community, writing awareness slogans etc. To encourage participation of the young people in the Community, the Social Workers at TEWFI have been organizing sports events and provided prizes to the winners.
The social workers employed by TEWFI are currently investigating the possibilities of setting up an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) group.
Feedback from an Anna University student:
I am a student from Anna University and a member of Youth Red Cross…We conducted a skit program to create awareness about the effects of alcohol consumption and the importance of education and the role of superstition. TEWFI social worker helped us for the skit program. He only gave me the idea of making a skit. He was very helpful to us to make the camp a very great success. We also conducted a survey on how many people take alcohol…nearly 70% of people were consuming alcohol…Thanks to Uluru Hospital and special thanks to the Social worker at TEWFI.