Across China: How free movie nights in Guangdong are encouraging a drug-free life

Source: Xinhua| 2018-10-27 22:55:26|Editor: yan
Video PlayerClose

ZHONGSHAN, Guangdong, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- On Oct. 19, the Sunflower outdoor movie team organized its 127th free movie night in the city of Zhongshan, south China's Guangdong Province. Such a movie night can attract over 300 hundred guests at one time. But the non-profit project's volunteers are no ordinary ones -- they used to be drug addicts.

Since September 2014, the Sunflower team has brought hundreds of drug-related films to the city's parks, schools, basketball courts and squares during weekends, as part of the city's anti-drug campaign.

The projectionists in the team are a growing group of recovering drug users who volunteer their time, with most of them now having a stable source of income alongside this part-time service.

As one of the earliest participants, Feng (pseudonym) said he has a close bond with the team.

Feng was a drug addict struggling to stay clean and fit before he volunteered for the project. "I failed over 30 drug treatments, and my criminal records frustrated me for years," said Feng in decent dressing and with a fresh haircut.

He looked and behaved completely different when he was first included in the city's assistance program to help recovering drug addicts integrate back into society.

"Feng was very indifferent about returning to society during his first two to three months at the city's social work service center," said Huang Jingwen, a social worker at the center who provided professional aid to Feng. "But a year later, he began gaining confidence in our continuous assistance and guidance."

"It was Huang Jingwen and many other social workers at the center who helped me out," said Feng, adding that their selfless support also encourages him to give back to society.

As such, Feng rushed to sign up for the Sunflower project even when the idea had only just been put forward. At that time, there were only four regular team members.

"I've got great pleasure and fulfillment from the voluntary work," said Feng, and gradually, he became the head of the team.

At first, the team was financially supported by the city's union, but as it matured over the years, companies and chambers of commerce started to join in.

The Sunflower project is now completely self-governed with a total of 25 regular volunteers and stable sponsorship from the non-governmental sector, according to Wu Yongguang, a police officer of the city's drug squad who initiated the project.

Wu said the project has provided a platform for many former drug users such as Feng who are eager to get more involved in the community and are willing to make their contribution to society.

The free movie night is held two to three times per month with four to five volunteers taking turns to pitch in.

Also, Feng has introduced five new members to the Sunflower project. These volunteer projectionists often share their experiences with the audience when the movie ends. Their struggles, they said, are a warning to all to stay away from drugs.

Apart from part-time voluntary work, Feng also runs a sound studio. As a music lover, Feng said he is passionate about his new career. At peak times, he can provide sound services in more than 20 performances per month.

Each time when a movie begins, Feng sits behind the audience to enjoy several hours of inner peace. "By this time, I feel like I'm a glowworm, shimmering and bringing in warmth as the darkness arrives," said Feng.