WHEN we told him the reasons for our unannounced visit to his drug rehabilitation centre in Galanta, Clean Day’s boss Peter Tománek wept.
“You have no idea what damage you are doing,” the muscular young man said, burying his face in his hands and sobbing.
At first he refused to communicate with The Slovak Spectator. He said that after we had written in September about the link between Clean Day and its founder, Zuzana Miková, a senior bureaucrat with the Government Office, he had had great difficulty raising funds. Miková is the director of the governmental council of ministers for drug addiction, and in the past used her post to help Clean Day get government funding.
“Everyone says you don’t need money from us, you get millions from Miková,” Tománek said. “The result is that this year we got nothing except €100,000 from the Trnava regional government. I have nothing to do with politics, but because of politics my patients suffer.”
Clean Day operates out of a two-storey building housing 20 drug addicts aged 14 and up. The centre employs nine people, most of whom live in modest quarters in the building.
“Just try and split €100,000 between 20 patients and nine employees,” said Tománek, who claims to earn about €650 a month.
During our visit we encountered patients at work in the kitchen, the laundry and a machinery shop, as well as in group therapy. They live according to a military-style programme that organises their every waking hour. They may not leave without permission or lend each other money. Cigarettes are kept in a locked cupboard and patients are allowed a maximum of six daily.
The charity rents the building from the regional government. During communism it served as a treatment centre for alcoholics and then sat empty for 10 years. “It was in such bad condition it took us two years to clean it properly,” Tománek said.
The patients now do everything from cooking and cleaning to construction work on the building and making crafts for sale. Many look unbelievably young, which is another reason Tománek wanted a government subsidy to fix up a building across the road from the main structure. He eventually wants to house the youngest addicts there and separate them from the adults.
Despite its funding difficulties, Clean Day offers its patients a varied programme. Tománek showed off a bank of air rifles, neatly folded military fatigues and masks – cast-offs from the army, he said – saying the addicts played “airsoft” whenever the weather allowed. They have access to a well-stocked weights room; according to Tománek, the equipment was bought cheap from a local gym that went out of business. They have TV and videos, access to computers and the internet. Once a year they go on holiday to Croatia.
“They need a full programme in order to stay in touch with the outside world,” said Tománek, himself a former addict. “When I was in treatment they shut me up for three months straight. When I got out I wasn’t even capable of buying a bus ticket.”