Monday, December 25, 2006

Just a Little Bit of Service...

Today was our first snowfall of the season. We awoke to a soft, white covering everywhere. It snowed the rest of the day & turned into an icy mess by late afternoon. Beautiful? Yes. Comfortable? No. Today I (Tom) took 4 tolleybuses, 2 marshutkas & did lots of walking to get to the police services facility to speak to prison psychologists of our region. I left at 10:30am even though I wasn't scheduled to be at the facility until 12 noon. With numerous accidents due to the weather, I arrived at 11:54...certainly time enough to spare... on a trip that usually takes about 25 minutes.
Between 40 & 50 prison psychologists & police officers had also braved the elements to arrive for our first training. I spoke for a couple of hours on general issues for working with addicts & alcoholics. Many of the professionals in attendance work in very small communities & villages, & this was the first type of training that they have received. The attendees were very interested & engaged, & stated that they would like to have more training of this type. I answered as many questions as I could, dispelled myths & misconceptions about the disease of addiction, & tried to provide some practical tools for this group. Many of the attendees had questions about what kind of statistics are available about alcohol & drug problems in Russia. It was surprising to me that they lacked some key information about the very population they are working with. It showed me the great need for on-going education & training. Katya did a great job translating & said that it was very interesting for her as well, as it was all brand new info. I shared with the group that it was great to be in a room filled with police officers & prison personnel, & NOT be in trouble! They appreciated the humor.
I'm not sure how everyone did with having a 'civilian' at the facility, let alone an 'American.' I was escorted everywhere, even to the bathroom! Still I look forward to other opportunities to be just a little bit of service!

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