Interview with Pierre Lukusa

Congolese born at the very last day of 1974, Pierre Lukusa is a Missionary of Africa since his Oath on the 26th August 2005. Today, Father Lukusa is sharing his experience of life and his hope for the future.
Why did you go to Brazil?
Pierre LukusaI left my mission placement in Mozambique towards the end of 2011 for an anticipated home-leave in the DRCongo to find a way to treat my unbalanced drinking problem which was becoming alarming to myself and to the confreres. I was offered to go to Brazil for treatment at a rehabilitation centre for chemical dependents and alcoholics called “Fazenda d´Esperança”. It was founded by Father Hans Stapel, OFM, in collaboration with three lay persons; Nelson Giovanelli Rosendo, Iraci and Lucy. This organisation was officially recognised by the Pontifical Office of Laity after the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Fazenda on the 27th May 2007. I am here since August 2012 to deepen the program I started in February 2012 in Nairobi.
Was it easy to get a visa for Brazil?
No, it was not! I had to wait nearly a year to get it. This is why I was proposed to go to Nairobi to start the program. Our confrere Baptiste Mapunda helped me to get a place at the “Raphaelites Centre”. I went through a very intense therapeutic program whereby I learnt fascinating things about myself.
Can you share with us some of those discoveries?
Under the guidance of a personal counsellor, I understood that I was at an early stage with my problem. Actually, it was a very wise decision to seek for help. I was very open to my counsellor and honest with myself when it came to share about my childhood experiences and all my background to find out the cause of my misbehaviour.
It came clear to me that, since I lost my beloved mother when I was ten years old, I have been living unconsciously in a state of “loneliness” which I have been covering with a fake personality. I did not want to show that I was suffering from that loss. The social environment where I was brought up taught me that a man cannot weep for a loss. I had to hide it by all means.
This “loneliness” became a source of insecurity. In many other instances, I was feeling that nobody around me was sharing my interests. I was dying alone inside myself. I had to find a way out of this pain.
How would you summarise your inner self-awareness?
I am becoming an emotionally mature person. Loneliness is part of life, nothing catastrophic. The ones who groan, moan and wallow in self-pity will do the inappropriate thing, like drinking. Loneliness is painful, so is stomach-ache. Drinking may ease the pain but never eliminate it. I found myself in a situation whereby my alcoholism was not yet a “social-disease”. Through unconscious mechanisms, other people develop extra types of addiction to cope with their own frustrations.
How long do you plan to remain in Brazil?
It is already one year and a half since I left Mozambique. To be honest, I am not comfortable in moving from place to place. However, I believe that God is preparing me for something greater that will give sense to my mission. I was offered to stay another year in Fazenda da Esperança. I found it a bit long. But I also came to realise that I had to accept and take it as God´s providence for my good and that of the others. God loves me; He is offering me various opportunities to teach me about myself, to be stronger and serve Him better. Finally, I happily take it remembering the biblical statement I had chosen for my priestly ordination: “My grace is enough for you…” (2 Cor. 12: 9-10).
What is the general atmosphere of the Fazenda da Esperança?
The atmosphere is very conducive to regular personal reflections.
What would you say is the paradox of alcoholism?
Let us take an example. Drinking is a social act. The paradox is that the society that encourages drinking marginalises those who slips into alcoholism. This is how my drinking problem went underground.
Alcoholics suffer from rejection. More than the average individual, the alcoholic is naturally friendly and loving person. After a few drinks, he could be sociable, attentive, complimentary and talkative. His shyness would be overcome and he could relate more comfortably. Later, everyone´s hand is against him. The doors of employment or promotion are closed. His friends do not invite him around anymore. He may find the door of his own home or community closed. In his own eyes he becomes a man with no importance, a non-person consigned to oblivion, a prisoner in solitary confinement. This is another very common paradox.
What would be your recommendations?
When people think of an alcoholic, they refer to someone in his late stages of the disease: destitute, deadly ill, mentally confused, morally bankrupt and living only for alcohol. Yet, this deterioration began long before. In most cases it started years before any physical, psychological, spiritual or social damage become apparent.
Anyone who drinks alcoholic beverages is a potential candidate for alcoholism, for as long as he lives. A basic characteristic of alcoholism is that it is a progressive disease: it never gets better, only worse. However, since it can be treated, everybody, even non-drinkers, would be wise to know the signs and symptoms and at what stages they appear. This way they are better equipped to recognise it in themselves or in others. They become aware of how severe the problem is and how urgent it is at any stage of the disease (early, middle or late stage). The bottom line is that we should not delay seeking or providing help.
I am very happy with what I am going through. It was and still is an opportunity for growth. I am also grateful to my confreres who helped me to find a way out. May God bless you all!

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