HOW ONE DETERMINED VENEZUELAN IS DROPPING DRUG USAGE BY 40%
In 1997, Mario Chirinos learned that his two cousins worked for a major drug cartel in Venezuela. But before he could do anything, they had become casualties of the narcotics wars.
At that point, he decided to change his country. But it wasn’t until ten years later that he found out how: the Truth About Drugs Campaign.
Chirinos started immediately distributing The Truth About Drugs booklets in high-crime neighborhoods. He then delivered seminars in schools across his home city of Maracaibo, partnering with and training 643 professors at the Dr. Rafael Belloso Chacin University.
Chirinos next engaged the faith community, training more than 50 groups of Catholics, Adventists, Baptists and others in the delivery of the Truth About Drugs program. They, in turn, have delivered it to some 20,000 Venezuelans. “They call every week requesting material. They carry the Bible under their right arm and The Truth About Drugs booklets under their left,” Chirinos said.
It wasn’t long before Chirinos was invited to address a military battalion of 500 soldiers in Maracaibo, where he learned that as many as seven out of ten soldiers abused marijuana, cocaine and other drugs. Consequently, he has now delivered lectures to more than 4,000 soldiers of the Venezuelan National Guard, Army and Air Force.
Chirinos next turned his sights to the private sector and educated more than 135,000 executives and staff of Venezuelan companies. Twenty-nine of these companies then donated $2 million to sponsor further drug education across Venezuela.
He didn’t have to wonder if he was making a difference—the proof was in the statistics: a 40% average drop in drug usage in schools where he had brought the program, a feat which was formally acknowledged by Venezuela’s National Anti-Drug Office.
And in the crowning acknowledgment of his campaign to date, Chirinos was appointed a drug law advisor to the Zulia State Legislative Assembly. Shortly thereafter, the legislature reviewed the program and approved Chirino’s proposal to require weekly Truth About Drugs education in schools throughout the state. The Venezuelan National Government followed suit, passing a law mandating drug education in every school in the country.
Though proud of how far he has come, Chirinos isn’t satisfied yet. His target is to reach a quarter of the Venezuelan population—7.5 million citizens.
“Our mission is just beginning,” he says.
Ways to End Drug Abuse and Get a Work Out, Too
When you consider that nearly one billion internationally tuned in to the 2014 World Cup, you get an idea of the power of sports to reach the masses. It’s no surprise, therefore, that Truth About Drugs chapters around the world are getting in on the plays.
Take the Truth About Drugs Milano, Italy team that organizes “Say No to Drugs” soccer tournaments in which police and city council members contend for victory.
Or there’s the BMX World Champion in Germany who delivers Truth About Drugs lectures to youth in school gymnasiums before launching into a string of daring bike stunts.
Then there is the South Africa-based basketball team known as the Phenoms, who display a Drug-Free World banner while scoring hoops and encouraging fans to live drug-free.
And so it goes internationally, where sports of every kind have become an effective avenue to reach youth with the truth about drugs.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
Support the Foundation for a Drug-Free World and help protect young lives from the destructive effects of drugs. Your contributions enable us to make our educational materials available free of charge to schools, youth organizations and other groups and individuals. Your support helps empower people with the facts they need to live healthy, drug-free lives.