Amsterdam officials have the perfect incentive to help tame a group of rowdy alcoholics that have been causing trouble in a local park: Pay them with beer to clean the city's streets.
"This group of chronic alcoholics was causing a nuisance in Amsterdam's Oosterpark: fights, noise, disagreeable comments to women," Gerrie Holterman, who heads the Rainbow Foundation project, financed by the Dutch state and donations, told Agence France-Presse
. "The aim is to keep them occupied, to get them doing something so they no longer cause trouble at the park."
The men were split into two groups of about 10 people, each working three days a week. For one day's work, which consists of cleaning the streets, the men are paid 10 euros (about $13), a half-packet of rolling tobacco, and five cans of beer — two for the morning, two for lunch, and one for after work.
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"I think I can speak for the group and say that if they didn't give us beers then we wouldn't come," Frank, one of the alcoholics, told AFP. "We need alcohol to function, that's the disadvantage of chronic alcoholism."
Holterman and area residents feel the program gives the alcoholics some structure.
"You have to see things like this: everyone benefits," Holterman said. "They're no longer in the park, they drink less, they eat better, and they have something to keep them busy during the day. Heroin addicts can go to shooting galleries, so why shouldn't we also give people beer?"
Some of the volunteers even think the work for beer deal helps them cut down on their alcohol consumption on the whole.
"When I get home, I've already had a busy day and I don't necessarily want to drink," one of the men, named Vincent, said. "We also feel satisfied, a job well done, contributing to society despite the fact that we drink. What's also good is that the beer they give us is light, 5 percent, not 11 percent or 12 percent like I used to drink."
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