HISTORY OF HOW THE RAY OF HOPE GROUP IN KUWAIT EVOLVED.
It all started in 1982 in the home of one person, – (Charlie). Just 3 persons would attend (Charlie, Joe, Romeo). It was not a registered meeting because it was held in a private home and public knowledge of it might have compromised the resident of the apartment. (Kuwait has a culture that does not allow the use of alcohol by anyone residing in the country).
In 1983 another fellow arrived (Jim) and the 4 of them started to gather in the grounds of the Holy Family Cathedral on a Friday afternoon. Still the group was unregistered but one person – (Joe F.) became a contact for anyone looking for other recovering alcoholics. He allowed his telephone number to be placed in the WHERE TO FIND and was registered as a “LONER” in 1988.
This status continued until 1989 when another person (Doug B.) returned to Kuwait and made contact with Joe F.
There was no shelter available for them and nowhere they could sit down and so they would meet under the shade of the single palm tree in the compound of the Holy Family Cathedral for 20-30 minutes on a Friday afternoon.
During this period a few others looking for AA made contact but these were not local people and they stayed only temporarily.
For the most part, only Joe and Doug were consistent attendees at the Holy Family Cathedral on a Friday afternoon. At these gatherings there was no Preamble or Serenity Prayer because there was no privacy at the time.
Thereafter, Joe and Doug made moves to get the Bishop (Micallef) to allow them the use of a very small room in the compound. With a small air-conditioning unit they could now think about starting a real meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous.
In late 1989 the group had developed to about 6 persons attending regularly. All of them had contacted Joe because his home tel. number was registered with GSO and/or by way of the WHERE TO FIND.
In late 1989, Joe Doug and Bassam took the message of recovery to the local Psychiatric Hospital. They provided the hospital with some literature and supported them for a short while until they were able to get things going themselves. The meetings were mainly in Arabic.
In August 1990 the country was invaded by Iraq. This put an end to the meetings for obvious reasons.
In 1991, after the liberation of Kuwait, the meetings at theHoly Family Cathedral started again. In a short space of time there were more people arriving. We now managed then to get use of a porta cabin in the compound. It was like being in heaven.
In 1992 as a result of the reconstruction programme in Kuwait and also in Iraq there was a huge influx of visitors to our region.
As a result, some of these were in recovery and they spilled over into our meetings.
It was about this time when we decided to give our group a name. We decided it should be THE RAY OF HOPE GROUP OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS KUWAIT. We registered it with the GSO in New York.
Over the ensuing years literally hundreds of different people have found us when they arrived in Kuwait.
Our group expanded from just one meeting a week to 3 meetings a week.
In April 1997 we were informed by the Bishop that our porta-cabin room would no longer be available due to extensive renovation and new construction works. He agreed to provide us with a room in the New Building when the work was completed.
We now set about looking for temporary accommodation to hold our meetings in a public place that could be accessed by anyone looking for a meeting.
This task was easy to say but quite hard to accomplish.
One of our members had to compromise his anonymity on a number of occasions whilst searching for a place.
We almost succeeded in being allowed a room to use at the Evangelical Church but at the last minute someone in the Church administration objected to Alcoholics Anonymous members being on the premises and that was that.
Luckily, we had a friend who was one of those patients from the Psychiatric Hospital meetings that we had helped years earlier. This man was in recovery and his influence made it possible for a room to be made available in the Dasman Complex. This building was in fact owned by the Amiri Diwan.
In November 1997 the Bishop kept his word and provided us with the use of Room#7 in the New Building of the Holy Family Cathedral. We have been there to date.
In 2002 we placed the number of a pager in the local newspaper along with the announcement that Alcoholics Anonymous was available in Kuwait.
In 2003 a member set up a web site to help people locate a meeting when they came to Kuwait. This web site has enabled many people to find the meetings.
In April 2005 after much discussion a mobile telephone was donated to the group by one of its members to provide a more efficient means of contact to those looking for help and support.
This help line was published in all 3 local English language newspapers – The Arab Times, Kuwait Times, Daily Star.
During this period the group had decided to see if inroads could be made with practicing our Third Legacy of Service by developing our P.I.C.P.C. work.
A member of the group who had volunteered to undertake this part of Service approached various professional bodies in Kuwait and offered Conference Approved Literature on the subject of Alcoholism.
A letter was also published in the Arab Times through one of our members. This had the effect of bringing a very limited response from a few members of the local community. This was also a part of the P.I.C.P.C. work.
Our group member visited Hospitals, Schools, Companies, Embassies, and Community Groups etc. The disbursement of the literature was not readily accepted by many of the professionals he approached.
There was a great deal of hesitancy and downright refusal by more than one doctor and or company representative.
In fact on one occasion the group member who was trying to distribute leaflets announcing that there was indeed help available to those who had a desire to stop drinking was detained by security personnel and the police were called.
He had a hard time explaining that he was only trying to provide a public service………(When he relayed this to the group members later it was laughed at, but it could have been quite problematic. At the same time a hard lesson was learned.)
In November 2006 the Ray of Hope Group successfully hosted the Arabian Gulf Convention with 59 attendees (Theme – The Art of Living).
To enable this to be conducted without the fear of intrusion by the local Ministry of Interior, our group P.I.C.P.C. representative had a meeting with the head of the (C.I.D.) department of the Ministry of Interior to explain our aims.
We were not provided with anything in writing as we had requested but our members were assured verbally by the (Head of the C.I.D. at that time) that that we could go ahead with our convention without hindrance.
Again in November 2012 the Ray of Hope Group successfully hosted another Arabian Gulf Convention with 75 attendees – (Theme – The First Step).
For several years past it is observed that the great majority of the newcomers to the ROH group make initial contact through our local group website (www.aaarabia.org)
The webmaster estimates that around 75-100 persons each year make contact through the site. Many of these are just making cries for help and are pointed in what we hope is the right direction.
Some are looking for help for their spouses of relatives. Some are already in recovery and are hoping to come to Kuwait for work. Others are passing through and want to find a meeting.
It is plainly apparent that in Kuwait the medium of the Internet has become most effective way for people to find the ROH.
Over the years since 1992 our records indicate that we have an average of between 8 and 9 members per meeting over the year. The ROH has 3 meetings each week as follows.
Big Book……….. Step/Tradition………… Open Discussion.
The ROH group also freely provides to EVERY newcomer after they have attended 3 meetings, the following Conference Approved Literature.
12 Steps and 12 Traditions
In recent times and in order to inform those attending meetings that our group has a single purpose the Group Conscience decided it has become necessary to include the following statement to be read out at the start of our meetings:
The Ray of Hope Group offers you a warm welcome to this closed meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous.
In support of A.A’s singleness of purpose, attendance at closed meetings is limited to persons who have a desire to stop drinking. If you think you have a problem with alcohol, you are welcome to attend this meeting. We ask that when discussing our problems, we confine ourselves to those problems as they relate to alcoholism.
NOTE: The above statement was first raised for group discussion in June 2013 and implemented as part of the group format in August 2013. This statement is also read out at the OPEN meeting on Fridays.
This action has resulted in encouraging most of our dual addicted membership to confine themselves to their problems with alcoholism. We are not quite there but there has been a lot of improvement.
THE ROH group encourages our dual addicted members to read the pamphlets available related to problems other than alcohol. We have ample supplies of literature that members are encouraged to use. There are no charges to members.
The above information is to the best of my knowledge reasonably accurate. Where I have put specific dates these are taken from my records.
Yours in service………………Doug …………………28th September 2015