[Originally published in Essay December, 2016]

In November of this year I was invited to attend the SA Convention “Our Primary Purpose” in Moscow, Russia to share my experience strength and hope with the fellowship there. This was the sixth national convention, held again this year at a facility in the very centre of Moscow. It was attended by 84 SA members, who came from many cities in Russia, as well as from Ukraine, Slovakia, Poland, Iran, USA and Ireland. There were 30 female members also and many younger members. It was a great experience to meet them all and I was very impressed by the sense of unity and fellowship that I sensed there.

It is a wonderful thing to witness SA recovery, the commitment and determination of the members to help others recovering from lust. The convention was very well organized and included topics on working the steps, doing a first step inventory, the traditions, carrying the message and our primary purpose. On Saturday night we laughed and sang together. It was encouraging to see the large number of female members in the Russian-speaking world who are helping each other stay sober.

We had a wonderful joyful time together sharing the solution and I was so impressed with the kindness of the members and the quality of the fellowship they have. Also there were 4 attendees from Iran who went to great lengths to get to Moscow as it is not easy for them to travel abroad. It was great to hear about the fellowship in Iran also and the struggles they have as the government there does not recognize SA groups so they have to meet in parks.

SA began in Russia in 1998 when an SA member from the US was re-posted to Moscow helped to get it established there. Since then it has taken a firm root with meetings spreading to other parts including St. Petersburg and Belarus and Ukraine. Also there are loners in various parts who connect via Skype. Following the persistence of some Moscow members to meet with a government official, SA was granted approval and a letter written by a top government official to help with getting rooms for meetings and hanging SA information flyers. This has proven to be a great boost to SA in Russia and other Intergroups are now looking into obtaining similar letters.

I would urge any members of SA to consider traveling to Russia to visit the brothers and sisters there. It is a very special experience in fellowship. They really enjoy hosting SA members and are very keen to hear the solution. There are many young people trying to rebuild their lives after falling into the tyranny of lust, they are an inspiration to see and I believe in the not too distant future Russia will become a stronghold of SA sobriety. My thanks to the International Committee members and their service for making it possible for me to go to the convention in Moscow.

C.M Ireland.