girlOn the evening of Saturday December 13th, a group of around 320 people descended upon the Nhow Hotel in the fashion, design and contemporary arts district of the city of Milan, in Northern Italy. It was a black tie event, where guests enjoyed aperitifs during the early stages, took in a delicious dinner, and were treated to a performance by the internationally known singer Evgenia Laguna. The event was more than just a party, however, and the hundreds of people who assembled at the hotel were there for a purpose. It was the occasion of the 33rd anniversary of Narconon Sud Europa, also known as Narconon Southern Europe. Among the guests were staff of Narconon centers and of the administrative team which helps to manage the various activities of the Narconon network throughout the region, as well as dignitaries from the governments of countries several thousands of miles away. The Narconon Southern Europe regional office hosted the event, and in addition to the observation of the anniversary, they also bestowed awards on individuals who had made significant contributions to Narconon’s goals of preventing and treating drug addiction in Southern Europe and across the globe.

Of the 320 guests, 80 men and women comprised the ranks of a group of former Narconon students who were on hand to help celebrate the anniversary. They were joined by their loved ones, forming what amounted to a delegate of people whose lives had been changed for the better by Narconon and who now live in testament to what the program can do to help a person who is suffering from addiction. During the event, the Narconon graduates were invited up onto the stage so that they could be acknowledged for their accomplishments in overcoming their addiction and making a fresh start in life. Another major highlight of the anniversary event came when Mr. Mubarak Bin Zayed, a member of the delegation from the nation of Qatar on the Persian Gulf, awarded the Narconon organization with a golden falcon in recognition of their actions in the pursuit of humanitarian goals. In addition to the Qatari delegation, notable guests included a consul from Turkey, the head of the Narconon center in Cairo, Egypt, a physician from Nigeria, and a group of Assessors from nearby Italian cities (Assessors are high level officials in the local governments of Italy). The list of dignitaries and officials who were on hand speaks to the recognition that Narconon Sud Europa has gained region-wide as a force for positive change.

Awards for Outstanding Work in the Narconon Southern Europe Network

The management of Narconon Sud Europa also bestowed honors upon three people at the anniversary gala, granting the William Benitez International Award, named in memory of the founder of the Narconon drug rehab program. The first recipient was Aidu Shainanan, the director of a Narconon center in Nigeria. He decided to get trained in the delivery of the program so that he could help his countryman with this powerful method for getting addicts off drugs and alcohol, and then returned home to open his center. In the spirit of other Narconon groups around the world, they not only provide treatment to clients, but also look for opportunities to help those in need and make the community a better place to live for everyone. In this vein, they responded to the Ebola crisis in Nigeria by taking to the streets to pass out information about the disease and speak face-to-face with people to ensure that they had the facts and could help to prevent the spread of the epidemic. The other William Benitez award was shared by Dila Tezemir and Ismail Karakas of Narconon Turkey, a center that the two recently opened in Ankara, that nation’s capital. It wasn’t enough for Tezemir and Karakas to open a rehab center, however, in pursuit of their goals of a drug-free Turkey. They went further by launching a nationwide TV advertising campaign which shares the hope of recovery and promotes the nation’s only non-hospital based addiction treatment center. These awards were given in recognition of individuals who are at the forefront of the activities of the people who comprise the Narconon Sud Europa network, and the guests at the organization’s anniversary event were delighted to help celebrate all the good work that has been done and which will be done as the years roll forward.

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