IT WAS healthy competition all round for some 180 former and recovering drug addicts involved in the 11th Exodus Games at the Panasonic National Sports Complex in Shah Alam.
Showing plenty of determination, the participants at this year’s track and field events ran and leapt towards a better life as part of their rehabilitation programmes.
“Students”, as they are referred to before completing their course at these Christian drug rehabilitation centres, competed in six events during the one-day sporting event organised by the Klang Valley Alliance (KVA).
The KVA organises the games every two years and is a registered association that links over 10 drug rehabilitation centres in the Klang Valley.
At homes like Kenosis in Jalan Kelang Lama, Kuala Lumpur, where students are subject to a structured living lifestyle and nurtured towards a drug-free life on their path to rejoining society, sports plays a key role in their healing process.
Lee (front) with the 11th Exodus Games overall champions Christian Care Centre from Hulu Langat on the podium. — YAP CHEE HONG/ The Star
“The first thing we do with all addicts that come through our centres is to rehabilitate them physically. They have to be cleaned up and be physically fit before moving on to the emotional and spiritual side, and this is where sports comes in,” explained KVA chairman Pastor Richard Lee, a recovered heroin addict who now runs Kenosis Home.
“Being ex-addicts ourselves, we know exactly how difficult the process is, to firstly recover from the addiction, overcome the stigma as well as regain our self-esteem so that society can accept us back.
“All of those who are here today arrived at our centres voluntarily, which signifies their intention to change and give up drugs. They are not unintelligent people but they just took a wrong turn,” Lee noted.
Not only did the games provide a place for the participants to compete, it also served as a breeding ground for comradeship as the recovering addicts shared experiences in turning over a new leaf and congratulated each other after competing in the events.
A participant soars as he attempts the long jump
The participants, who ranged from 18 to 55 years old, were well- mannered throughout the games and some athletes could even be seen clearing up the litter from the stands.
Christian Care Centre (CCC) from Kampung Sungai Tekali, Hulu Langat, emerged overall champions after winning medals in each of the events – 100m, 200m, 400m, 4x100m as well as shot put and long jump – clinching two bronze, three silver and three golds.
Titus Wong said the home, which was founded 39 years ago, had 25 out of 30 recovering addicts participating in the games this year.
Wong said the secret to winning was simply hard work.
“Discipline is key and we pushed them during training.
“We have physical activities such as football and volleyball at the home as part of our rehabilitation programme which consists of spiritual, vocational and recreational aspects,” he added.
Lee painted a grim picture that if all drug rehabilitation centres in the country ceased to exist, there would be thousands of addicts back on the streets with no support.
“Once they finish the programme, we ask them to stay on and work with us for a few more years.
Wong (in cap) congratulating one of his students after winning an event. 11th Exodus Games 2018 at Panasonic Sports Complex, Shah Alam
“We give them odd jobs like transporting items if they have driving licence or do house painting and renovation work,” he said.
“One of the most important aspects for post-recovery is acceptance by the community. We need to have community support which is crucial because of the negative stigma they face.”
Participants at the games stand for the national anthem as the sun rises behind them during the opening ceremony of the Games.