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Gangs: Beyond Drugs and Violence

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    War in the Valley of Plenty

    Peters is a violence interrupter who steps in where violence is about to escalate and attempts to talk things through with the parties involved, hoping to avoid bloodshed [Al Jazeera]

    In Cape Town, one of the richest cities in all of Africa, gang-related killings and drug use are rampant.

    An intervention programme named Ceasefire finds remarkable success by getting in the middle of the conflict.

    Ceasefire community worker Nielin Peters tries to help gang members get out. But first, he must get into their world.

    “The children that you raise will one day look up to you,” said Peters.

    “If they see you on the right road, they will choose it for themselves too. The road of gangsterism leads to prison or the grave. There is no benefit.” 

    Mind Over Battle

    Chavez runs a relapse prevention meeting at Homeboy Industries, an organisation that helps former gang members become productive members of society [Al Jazeera]

    In Los Angeles, Javier Chavez, a former gang member, helps others to break away from violence and drug addiction.

    He’s a counsellor at Homeboy Industries, an organisation that has helped over 10,000 former gang members from across the city each year.

    But as he counsels others on how to cope with the challenges of life outside gangs and prison, Chavez constantly wrestles his own demons – his dark past which won’t let him go.

    “I spent 23 years of my life in the act of addiction,” says Chavez. “My life was on the line … I just want to do my part in life. That’s how I make my amends.”

    Gangster’s Granny

    Nelsa Curbelo, peace activist and founder of gang youth rehabilitation foundation Ser Paz, dances with school children [Al Jazeera]

    Ecuador is caught in the crosshair of Latin America‘s drug war.

    Nelsa Curbelo is a peace activist and former nun whose organisation, Ser Paz, helps young gangsters leave their violent lives behind.

    Curbelo uses a unique combination of skills developed during her time helping to broker peace during times of war as well as grandmotherly love to transform some of Ecuador’s toughest streets.

    “People used to say we were the worst of the worst. Now, you could say we’re the best of the worst,” said a young former gang member who was aided by Curbelo and her foundation.

    “Nelsa is our second mother. She is the person who believed in us.”

    View the original article: https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/aljazeera-selects/2018/04/gangs-drugs-violence-180417052219272.html

    Source: Al Jazeera

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