Pork has given way to increased poultry production at the micro-business operation at Verdun House, St. John.

The Pool, St. John male rehabilitation facility run by the Substance Abuse Foundation Inc. (SAF) provides treatment for persons addicted to illicit drugs and alcohol, recently phased out their flagging pig rearing business and have used the space to significantly expand poultry production.

The pigpens on the farm had fallen into disrepair due to termites and the SAF’s Director of Finance and Administration Mr. Bernard Pooler said they also recognised that pig rearing was not financially feasible. The challenge, however, was finding the funds for the renovations and affecting the change.

CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank came to their assistance financing the construction and renovation of 3,000 square feet of pens in which to raise broilers.

The pens were handed over recently and today the farm yard is alive with the sound of healthy chickens.

The SAF’s Director, Human Resources, Communication & Client Development, Marietta Carrington said, “The stigma associated with mental health and addiction is real and therefore getting support – financial or otherwise – is often very difficult.

This is, because, as she explained the disease of addiction is often misunderstood; addiction and substance abuse are generally perceived to be self-controllable, social behaviours that can be managed through choice, personal will-power and moral controls but that was not the case.

Therefore, Mrs. Carrington said, “For CIBC FirstCaribbean to recognise that these men and women who are often the most vulnerable in our society deserve to get the treatment they need and to be provided with opportunities to acquire new skills or to improve existing ones speaks volumes.”

“By providing support to our micro business programme (animal farm programme) the bank has demonstrated the seriousness with which it takes its corporate social responsibility – recognising of course that addiction not only affects the individuals but the wider society.”

CIBC FirstCaribbean, however, expressed its gratitude to the SAF for allowing it to be part of such a meaningful project; one which contributes to the recovery and reintegration of addicts into the society.

The bank’s Managing Director, Mrs. Donna Wellington noted that there are negative effects of addiction on individuals and their families – especially their children – as well as the wider society. She said the bank recognised the need for solid family structures and healthy citizens and was willing to contribute to the development and maintenance of these objectives.

Verdun’s animal farm is part of the SAF’s micro-business programme, which Mr. Pooler pointed out was important for therapeutic reasons and also provided former and current residents with employable skills and job opportunities which are among the vehicles for keeping recovering addicts on a drug-free road.

He said that working on the farm also raised the level of their employability by helping them to acquire technical skills and to develop the attitudes for coping in the workplace or as self-employed persons.

In addition to the farm, a bakery and lawn maintenance operation make up Verdun’s micro-business portfolio.

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