Nazia, Maguire Fellow in Dallas

Nazia is a graduate student in medical anthropology in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. She was awarded a Maguire and Irby Family Foundation Public Service Fellowship for summer 2014 from the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility at SMU. She is conducting research with Nexus Recovery in Dallas.

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Gaining new understanding at Nexus

Over the past three weeks, I’ve immersed myself in the bustle and daily life of Nexus Recovery Center. I’ve learned more about the unique population I’m working with than I ever could have reading article upon article in academic journals.

The first day I was there, I felt like a fly on a wall – observing and taking in every moment, every interaction, every movement of body language. However, within a couple hours, the women there were opening up to me like I was a friend. I am working with the women in the pregnant and parenting program, many of whom are my age. Initially, I felt that it would be difficult to connect with these women, but they are just like you and me. They have aspirations and dreams, families they love, friends with whom they share secrets, and a network of support and like-minded individuals. The only difference is they live in this center, which some consider home, while others count down the days until they can leave.

There is a regular schedule that is more or less the same week to week. The routine is wake up, eat breakfast, send the children to daycare, then attend meetings throughout the day, interspersed with lunch duties and cleaning. Once the mothers pick up their children from daycare, the day winds down to dinner, and finally, lights out.

Nexus aims to normalize the family process for these women, who have been pushed to the edges of society because of their disease of addiction. The selfless counselors provide tools for these strong women to learn and utilize once they leave the center, so that they may successfully find work and housing. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that many are back on the streets without social capital or access to housing. State insurance only goes so far for some. This is a truth that I have known but never witnessed; and as I am learning more each day about who these women are and how they may not know if they’ll stay for another day, I am forced to look inside myself and come to terms with why I get to live a cushioned life while others do not.

As I continue my time conversing with the women and gaining a greater understanding of what it means to be a woman in recovery and to raise a family, I hope to bring justice to the many voices that have not been heard. It has only been a couple weeks into this fellowship, but I already feel the women have impacted me in a spiritual and lasting way.

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