Bright Christmas Campaign
Healthy Lanka is a social development organization with many years of experience in alcohol and drug prevention work. Among its main areas of focus are the protection and promotion of child rights and the prevention of violence against women, both of which are key areas of interest in mainstream development programmes. Today, it is a well known fact that the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs has a serious negative impact on development. It is also one of the main underlying factors behind the prevalence of poverty and the loss of family income. Women and children are particularly at the risk of physical and mental trauma and the consequences of the decline in the overall quality of life because of the use of these substances by a family member, usually the male head of household. Cigarettes and alcohol in particular, are behind the many cases of non-communicable diseases treated every year which affect not only the sufferer but also the entire family.
Substance use kills 65 – 70 Sri Lankans every day and approximately 40000 every year. In relation to the percentage of Christians in this country (a total of 7.6% as per the 2006 census), about 3040 Christians alone die because of substance use every year. While this is a considerably large number, the economic impact that alcohol, tobacco, and drug use has on families is just as devastating. Despite this situation, the alcohol and tobacco industries continue to exploit special holidays and social events to market their products, especially targeting children and youth. When exploring the extent to which alcohol use has infiltrated Christmas, the main religious holiday of the Christians, one can observe that alcohol has become an essential component of celebrations even in homes. Studies across the world have shown that this widespread use of alcohol is a vital factor that contributes to the lower living standards among families and entire communities. We Christians/Catholics too have fallen below the standard of living that we should have been at. The Bible makes this very clear.
“For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.”
“ He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.” (Proverbs 21:17)
Even so, Christmas celebrations continue to be events at which alcohol is heavily used and at which children too learn to accept alcohol use as a normal part of life. To change this, Healthy Lanka is launching a special campaign this Christmas. The activities to be conducted though our “Bright Christmas Campaign” are:
1. Programmes targeting children and youth to increase knowledge on alcohol, tobacco, and drug prevention
2. Display posters promoting the message: A Christmas without alcohol is a very merry Christmas
3. Spread community awareness by distributing leaflets containing scientific information and Christian teachings pertaining to alcohol, tobacco, and drug prevention
4. Display prevention message in banners in the premises of churches
5. Distribute stickers with warnings of the real harm of alcohol use
6. Prepare and send letters to churches in areas with the highest rates of alcohol use
7. Display posters on public notice boards to inform people on the harmful effects of substance use and how substance use destroys family happiness