Good People Good Work
Heralding a Drug-Free World: BASMIDA and Welcome Home Society      
Nick Renowski(m): Those habits stuck with me from the age of 12 up until 26. And this is my first time in recovery. I've been a student here for 19 months now. So this is the longest I've been clean from any type of drugs or alcohol in my life.

HOST: Greetings, thoughtful viewers, and welcome to Good People, Good Works. Today, June 26th, is the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, a day to unite the world in achieving an international society free of the selling and using of drugs. Drug addiction is a major concern worldwide. A 2008 study found that in the USA alone, 20 million people age 12 or older, or approximately six percent of the population, use illicit drugs.

It came to the point in my life where everyone that I cared about or everyone that I knew had pushed me away from them, and you end up all alone essentially. And you end up around a bunch of people that don’t really care about you or you don’t even really know them. The only thing that you have in common is that you’re both using (drugs) together, and that’s a scary place.

HOST: Successful drug treatment has been shown to save lives, reduce crime and rebuild families.

Dean(m): There's always a way out if you seek help; it's just as far as asking for it, and no matter how dark or scary the place is that you're in, you can get out of it.

HOST: Today we’ll find out about two non-profit organizations whose staff and volunteers are dedicated to rescuing drug abusers from aimless lives of addiction and helping them to become constructive members of society.

Dean (m): At first I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want anything to do with it, but then several months later after I was still using (drugs) and my life had continually gone downwards and gotten a lot worse. At that point I chose to come to Welcome Home. (Interview in English) Dean (m): The organization here is called “Welcome Home.” It’s a two-year program. It’s based upon a therapeutic community. It’s very intense.

HOST: Founded in 2004 by John Volken, a German-Canadian, Welcome Home operates long-term residential treatment facilities in Seattle, USA and Surrey, Canada for men and women who struggle with substance abuse but are determined to overcome their addictions and lead productive lives. Mr. Volken founded and operated a furniture chain store with more than 148 locations and over US$200 million in annual revenue. In 2004 he sold the business and became a social entrepreneur focusing on drug rehabilitation.

John Volken(m): We teach them to get up in the morning and to brush their teeth, to look after hygiene, and how to eat properly. We teach them leadership you know and all aspects of successful living.

Nick Renowski(m): The basic principle of Welcome Home is to gain your life back. And that is through accountability, through responsibility, and through hard work. It's daily, basic principles, such things like keeping your room tidy, keeping the chores up to date, being responsible for your actions, what comes out of your mouth, your attitude, your behavior, and your values.

All these things make the person that you see here in front of you today. And it's not just from one day; it's from training over and over and over again. So, the therapeutic community teaches people how to live among other addicts with other attitudes, with other ways of life, and really develop that strong character, that strength that you have, inner strength that we all have. It's taught me a lot about leadership. It's taught me who I am and what I want to do with life.

HOST: Welcome Home’s comprehensive program, which requires a modest registration fee but is otherwise free-of-charge, incorporates addiction recovery, personal development, and vocational training. Housing, clothing, legal assistance, and meals are also provided to participants.

John Volken (m): We got you know, all kinds of different opportunities for students to acquire a specific training, but also what’s more important really is the work ethic. Here they learn life skills. We run it like a business (SMTV(f): Yeah.) because we want to make sure all our students, when they leave here, they are equipped to be good employees.

Nick(m): It’s a minimum two-year program. Like If you speak with anybody who knows anything about addiction or recovery, they’ll say it takes anywhere from two to five years to properly heal, whether it’s mentally, physically, or spiritually. To think that we can change our behaviors and attitudes that we’ve engrained for 5 years or 10 years of addiction in 60 or 90 days is unrealistic.

That two to five years is a realistic goal where you’re able to now think clearly, act clearly and behave responsibly. And so graduation comes when the student is ready and when the program feels the student is ready. So it’s not one or the other.

John Volken (m): We want lifelong sobriety. When they leave here, we give them US$3,000; it’s for first month’s rent for an apartment and for furniture. We want to make sure that they have a solid foundation.

HOST: The Welcome Home Society has many success stories, with students going on to lead meaningful lives free of intoxicants.

John Volken(m): One fellow’s been with us down in Seattle for almost five years. Now he’s married and he has a steady job. For weeks I thought, “He’s not going to make it.” But he made it and he’s doing wonderful. We have graduates who have a steady job now and a good future.

HOST: We now shift to Southeast Asia to learn about BASMIDA, a non-profit organization that has excellent drug prevention and rehabilitation programs that serve the people of Brunei.

BASMIDA means “basmidada” in Malay; (it) means “Get rid of drug abuse.” It was formed back in 1987, and at that time, a lot of our community did not know about the dangers of drug abuse. So a non-governmental organization was formed. We do preventive drug education, not only targeted towards the young people, but also through all strata of the community.

We received recognition from the government, and of course, the support of Her Majesty Kebawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha, which is (refers to a female sovereign ) our Queen of Brunei. She has graciously accepted to be our royal patron.

HOST: BASMIDA has over 100 active and 2,000 registered members around the country, who strive to keep youth away from narcotics and those formerly addicted to drugs clean and sober.

Datin(f): So a lot of people, they want to know “How do we inculcate positive values in our young people?” Success stories in drug prevention in Brunei, (are) done not only through the government, but through the community, through the civil societies, through NGOs, things like BASMIDA, through schools, through religion, through the leaders in the community, through the mosque leaders and so on and so forth. Islam is a religion that teaches us to value life. To value life means not doing drugs, not killing people, not causing harm to other people.

HOST: Working in cooperation with the nation’s drug rehabilitation center, called Rumah Al-Islah, BASMIDA also offers various forms of assistance to those who’ve gone through the center’s program, thus enabling them to make a new start in life.

Datin(f): We have three groups. One is, I would like to call them our Rakan BASMIDA. Rakan means “friends.” Friends of BASMIDA are ex-drug addicts. They are looking after our headquarters here. We don't charge them for their water or electricity because they have no homes. Because they have been stigmatized by the community, we allow them to live here, stay here free of charge. But we also, for our Rakan BASMIDA, we have computer lessons for them, taught by a teacher.

Then we have a group called the Dhikr BASMIDA, which consists of our families of ex-drug addicts. These are women who are taught how to say verses of the Qur’an and appropriate verses to praise our Prophet, our Nabi, Nabi Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam. (Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him )

By doing that, these family members, they get to learn about spiritual values. Because in Islam we pray five times a day, and by doing that, they always remember Allah, and not to go back to drug abuse. Then we have another group called the Youth BASMIDA. And BASMIDA Youth is very, very active.

HOST: Drugs not only utterly ruin lives, they also cause enormous damage to our beautiful home, planet Earth.

Datin(f): Did you know that by doing drugs, you are also destroying the environment? Because these people producing the shabu (methamphetamines), the chemicals that they produce, that they have as a by-product of their producing the drugs, they just throw it down the river, kill the fish, kill the environment and so on. But at the international level, you know the cocaine for example, do you know that to produce one kilogram of cocaine, you need to destroy three hectares of the virgin forest of Colombia?

HOST: BASMIDA president Datin Hajah Masni binti Haji Mohd Ali prays for a drug-free world in which our children and future generations can live in peace.

Datin(f): If we want to promote and protect the rights of children, we want to make sure that there is no environment anywhere that they will be able to see, do drugs, be promoted to take drugs and so on and so forth. The producers of all these TV programs, and movies, please do not glamorize them. If you love your family, if you love your children, if you love your life, please don't glamorize smoking, don't glamorize hard drugs, soft drugs, whatever you like to call them, and don't glamorize alcohol, because that is one thing that will destroy their lives.

As I have always emphasized, TV programs, the mass media, you have a very important role in the inculcation of good, positive values, good lives. Because lives as it is, which is given by Allah to us, we have an obligation, we have a responsibility to protect it.

HOST: As on many occasions, during a 1999 lecture in South Africa, Supreme Master Ching Hai spoke about the hazards of addictive drugs while reminding about the preciousness of protecting our physical, mental and spiritual health

SM: It affects everything, don't you know? It makes your mind blurred. It shrinks your brain. It clogs your nerves. It makes you hallucinate. It makes you go crazy when you don't have it and become addicted to it. It breaks your family love, relationship. It drives your girlfriend, boyfriend away. It makes you become a criminal sometimes. How do you have peace in this chaotic state of mind in order to practice spiritual even?

You have to be first calm and normal. We have enough confusion with work, with war, with disaster, with relationship already. Do not create more confusion for yourselves and damage your only vehicle to reach God; this is the body, the temple. Keep it well, in order, healthy, because you must use it. Drug is no, no, no, no.

HOST: We sincerely thank you John Volken and Welcome Home Society staff as well as Ms. Datin Hajah Masni binti Haji Mohd Ali and BASMIDA members for your wonderful work that is giving lost souls another chance at life. May your noble efforts continue to help bring about greater harmony in the world.

For more information on the organizations featured today, please visit the following websites: Welcome Home Society Connect with BASMIDA on

Gracious viewers, thank you for your company today on Good People, Good Works. Coming up next is The World Around Us, after Noteworthy News. May our hearts always be connected to the Divine light.

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