Please watch the beautiful video below that was made
for Talitha Koum by a volunteer, Chris Loh.
It uses gorgeous images to illustrate perfectly the spirit
of Talitha Koum and what we're all about.
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Who We AreTalitha Koum Society (TK), started in 1999, is a non-denominational group that provides support to Canadian women who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol and have recently been released from a correctional institution. The society's name comes from the words "Talitha Koum" which were spoken by Jesus to resurrect a dead child, when he said, "Little girl, I say to you arise". This characterizes TK's goal of resurrecting the lives of those that are typically victims of violence and have fallen into the grip of substance abuse. The cost to society of our failure to help these women and their children is enormous. In our view, these women are victims and it is the responsibility of our society to provide the means to enable these women to lead happy lives and become contributing members of society.
TK fills a critical gap in current support available, as we accept the most difficult cases who are considered too difficult to deal and cannot be accepted into other homes. Also, we are one of precious few organisations that accept women with children. Often, without the support of TK, their only other realistic option is to continue on a path of prostitution, drug and/or alcohol abuse and, ultimately, jail. Often, those with children do not seek out support due to the potential loss of connection with their children and, our experience is that in many cases, the children provide additional motivation to further help the resident deal with their substance abuse issues. We strive to break the cycle of addiction and abuse that passes from generation to generation. We also help provide our residents with valuable life skills such as buying groceries, cooking, and budgeting. Given their difficult life paths, many of our residents have not had the opportunity to develop day-to-day skills that many take for granted. We understand that addiction is not the only challenge that prevents our residents from leading productive and happy lives, so teaching them these life skills necessary in order for them to become independent is hugely important.
While we are based in the Vancouver Lower Mainland area, our geographic location has no bearing on those we accept into our care. Often, they are referred to us while still in Provincial or Federal prison whereby they are released directly into the custody of TK. They may also come from other rehabilitation houses or, in rare cases, directly from the street. We accept residents who have limited options for care and we provide them with lodging and support. During their tenure with us, we require that they accept counseling services, adapt to a structured program, learn to become more accepting of others, and be willing to not only receive support, but also to provide it to others as well. They are required to attend appropriate support group meetings such as Alcoholics, Cocaine or Narcotics Anonymous; and to meet with sponsors, parole officers and social services agencies as may be appropriate for each resident.
As space within our homes is extremely limited, the potential resident is interviewed by the Executive Director of TK prior to acceptance, to ensure she is committed to moving past her substance abuse problem and gaining control of her life. The typical tenure for a resident is between 6 months and 2 years, the timing of which is tailored individually to her needs. As outlined above, we also provide shelter to the resident's children, as appropriate, because we believe it is critical to break the generational cycle of substance abuse that is so prevalent among women afflicted with these problems.
We are staffed by women who have successfully escaped the substance abuse grip, many of whom are Talitha Koum alumni. We believe that their deep understanding of the situation and the mindset of our residents is an important key to our success. We choose to provide educational training and support to them, rather than hiring women with the education, but lacking the personal experience of our residents' difficult backgrounds. As a framework for success, we use the guiding principles of the twelve-step program developed for Alcoholics Anonymous to help the resident overcome her substance abuse problem. When they graduate from TK, we expect them to be able to live on their own, or with a TK alumni for additional support, and to share rent, cook meals, care for themselves and their children, and be functioning members of society. Success for us, is to see each resident drug and/or alcohol free for at least one year after graduation. Between a third and a half of our residents achieve this measure of success, and that typically takes them anywhere between 6 months to 2 years.