|The vineyards surrounding San Patrignano, in the province of Rimini, Romagna|
|Youth congregating for "WeFree" October 10-11|
|WeFree days events. Theme color - orange - much like Halloween|
Groups from other countries were invited to share their programs too. Throughout the year approximately 50,000 students, roughly ages 13-18, will actually come visit the community and participate in programs. San Patrignano is well-known throughout the world and has many foreign residents, including Americans.
|Fun and games to celebrate freedom from substance use|
|Making a mural on the the theme, "The world we want depends on us"|
Going to rehab at San Patrignano is not a life sentence, but, rather, a life-affirming experience. There are 1300 people living in San Patrignano, at least 1000 of them men. Cocaine is the most common drug of addiction amongst the residents. (I was told drug use was generally not so common among females in Italy, but that is changing. Also, the average age used to be older, in the 30s, but now the average age for a resident is around 26.) At least 100 Americans have been through the program, and there are Americans and Canadians there now. For Americans, however, it is not easy to get the Visa that allows them to get into the program.
|Dorm housing for the residents of San Patrignano|
Amazingly, no one pays for their treatment and the Italian government does not contribute either. Private donations provide about 50% of the cost, while the community raises the rest of the money to sustain itself. Everyone who lives at San Patrignano has the opportunity to learn a trade, so that he or she may enter back into society in a positive way. Some are involved in agriculture, the grapes and the olive trees, of course. There's also a cheesemaking center, farm animals and a well-regarded bakery.
|Designer wallpaper printed in the workshops|
|another handmade wallpaper|
|Fine purse in the leather making rooms|
Antonio Boschini, the doctor, specialized in infectious diseases, because he got out of school at the time of the AIDs crisis. A few residents with AIDs remain, but it is not a major need. Medical emphasis is on therapy and counseling more than on giving drugs to get the patients off of drugs.
I learned about Vincenzo Muccioli, the infamous founder of the community. A wealthy man who owned a hotel in Rimini, he was concerned about the large number of homeless people addicted to drugs in the late 1970s. He had a second home in the mountains and invited these homeless to live there as long as they agreed to work. He was determined to help them and give their lives meaning. Well that was the beginning of San Patrignano, and now it's an exemplary model of the international community.
|A mural at San Patrignano|
The dining hall is huge and I can't tell you how pleased that the day I ate lunch there they served my favorite Italian dish, Saltimbocca alla Romana, and some pasta of course. There's a real sense of family, community, peace. The closest analogy I could think of was the monastic communities of the Middle Ages which the sense of fellowship.
The staff gave me some of their materials with the 3x the letter R, standing for Rehabilitation for Recovery and Reinsertion. The three booklets included are a handbook on justice interventions in place of incarceration, a manual on rehabilitation and recovery and a handbook on social integration of recovered drug users. It is a program that should be imitated, but can anyone else do it so well?
|An actress, Elisabetta, former resident, dramatizes her biographical story of how she became involved|
in drugs, for the students. It's a story of innocence to despair.