Rebuilding Broken Lives

The former Irish Bible School has become a centre of hope and restoration

Tucked away in the beautiful south Tipperary countryside, Remar Recovery Home offers a new start to people wrestling with addiction, homelessness or social problems. This Christian rehabilitation centre is part of a network of similar Remar homes in 77 countries worldwide, founded 37 years ago in Spain by Miguel Diaz.

Remar Ireland was launched four years ago and uses the beautiful farm in Coalbrook, County Tipperary, which was once home to the Irish Bible School (now the Irish Bible Institute).

Sandra and Antonio Riberio are the administrators on site and Antonio is the pastor for the small community. Originally from Portugal, the couple spent 20 years working in Remar homes in the UK. They came to Ireland to work alongside Vaun, a former addict who is now supporting others through the recovery process.

The centre provides a one-year programme for people seeking a fresh start and especially for those who are trying to beat addiction to drugs or alcohol. Residents receive free accommodation and food as well as a structured programme of help, support and counselling.

The remote location is helpful as it removes people from the temptations of daily life and the circumstances that have often contributed to their problems.

Churches, especially in Dublin, have referred people to the Remar Recovery Home and the team is now considering opening a second centre in Cork to provide a halfway house between rehab and normal life.

“We don’t say ‘no’ to anybody,” Antonio shares. Everyone is welcome regardless of their race, religion or background but they come knowing that this is a Christian programme. Residents are expected meet for morning devotions at 7.30am each day as well as prayer meetings on Wednesday evenings and services on Thursdays and Sundays.

Moving to Ireland with their seven children was not easy, Sandra admits. “Everything is different. It has been challenging but God is with us. The residents have become part of our family.

“Little things that happen give us the boost to continue to do what we do. There are ‘failures’ as well as successes - some people cannot cope with the programme and end up having to leave. But it is moving to see the changes that do take place [in those who stay] - in the way they talk, the way they act and the way they do things. We do the work we do because God has touched our hearts and He helps us to continue doing it.”

We do the work we do because God has touched our hearts and He helps us to continue doing it.

Antonio adds, “We live here on site with our children and we don’t know the background of the people who come here. Everyday we put our children in the hands of God and trust that He will protect them.”

Becoming self-sufficient is an important aim for Remar. Growing their own vegetables on the farm, they also run a charity shop in Thurles, which helps to fund the work. Charity “Food Cloud” arranged for Remar to receive surplus food from the local Tesco supermarket; food that would otherwise be thrown away. [Ed note: You can find out more about the great work of this Irish charity at www.food.cloud.]

The home itself is heated using a wood burner that runs largely on donated wood. Chickens provide plenty of eggs to feed the hungry residents and wool from the sheep is also sold to help cover costs.

While it is not required, many residents enjoy helping out on the farm and once they have completed the programme, others get involved with serving in the charity shop. Practical work can be an immense help to recovery as is the beautiful and peaceful rural setting of south Tipperary. Other residents enjoy using the well-equipped on-site gym and many pitch in with chores such as collecting wood, feeding the chickens or cooking meals.

Sandra’s father was an addict who became clean and also found faith in Jesus thanks to the work of Remar. “I saw my dad become such a different person!” she shares. This gives Sandra a special insight into the challenges faced by the family of those who are struggling to overcome addiction. She often speaks to family members on the phone and provides caring support for those whose lives have been so dramatically affected.

Find out more at www.remarrecoveryhome.com.