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“Pusat Pertolongan” means “Help Center” in Malay, and it was a drug addiction rehabilitation center in Malaysia. Founded by a former German Catholic priest who converted to Islam, it operated out of a former home for victims of leprosy or TB (I am not sure which) in the town of Batu Gajah, near the city of Ipoh.

And I lived and worked there from 1981-82, as a Henry Luce Scholar, on a one-year assignment.

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Alan AtKisson beside entrance sign for Pusat Pertolongan, 1 Apr 2009

The program was modeled on the highly confrontational, behavioral, sometimes psychologically brutal self-help program at Daytop Village on Staten Island.  Mostly, therapists were ex-junkies themselves.  Somehow, even though I was just 21 years old, the farthest thing from an ex-junkie, and the only non-Malaysian in the place, the management decided I should be the Officer in Charge and Therapist to the senior residents in the program.

I was not very effective as a therapist to Malaysian junkies. So I kept requesting that I be demoted. Finally, in a foreshadowing of my future career, I found my place as staff trainer and organizational consultant.  (The story is summarized in my book The Sustainability Transformation.)

In April 2009, I found myself in Malaysia on other business, with an extra day or so before I could fly home.  So I went to Ipoh, hired a car and driver, and went out to Batu Gajah, looking for Pusat Pertolongan.  Thanks to the kindliness of the local residents, I found it.

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