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Around the World
Southern Hemisphere and Asia
Anonymous had a difficult time putting down roots in Mexico—it
took nearly 20 years to become firmly planted—but
it then enjoyed "one of the largest demographic explosions
of A.A. in the world." More recently, due perhaps to a combination
of Latin temperament and serious growing pains, a wide and
tragic schism has developed which was unresolved as of 1985.
first requests to G.S.O. for help from Mexico came immediately
following the Jack Alexander article, from Jorge E. and
Arthur H. During the '40's, groups formed sporadically and
disappeared. Among these was an effort in Monterey by Gilbert
M., who had come to A.A. in Houston. He and his wife, Francisca,
even translated some A.A. pamphlets into Spanish. Another
was Joe A., who started a short-lived group in Culiacan.
A third attempt was in Mexico City, in '46, by a Lester
F., but neither he nor his Mexican prospects could stay
English-speaking group was initiated in Mexico City in '46.
In 1958, the Hidalgo group (later renamed Grupo Distrito
Federal) began meeting on the same premises. The Bolivar
group came about the same time. And an institutional group
was started at the military hospital in '59. In 1967, the
Matt Talbot group was begun by Roberto N. and two others.
The Tacubaya followed soon after.
1953 a group was formed by Joaquin B. He and his wife, Irma,
with the help of Carlos C., translated the Big Book into
Spanish. Later the Merida group was begun by Joaquin C.
and Leocardia P. It met in a mausoleum, which Bill W., on
a visit, found appropriate "so we can realize our problem
is one of life and death."
in Mexico was strengthened in the '60's by an article in
the Spanish edition of the Reader's Digest that brought
many requests for help to G.S.O. in New York. These were
referred to existing contacts in Mexico. By '64, there were
38 groups; by '69, the number had grown to 260. Over 3,000
showed up for the First National Convention which took place
in 1976; 20,000 for the Third, in 1984. 1969 marked the
beginning of a national service structure, with the creation
of a General Service Board and a General Service Office.
The latter is housed today on two full floors of a beautiful
historic building in Old Mexico City. They publish virtually
all English-language A.A. literature in Spanish and perform
a full range of other services.
MUCH MORE DETAIL ON GROWTH, AND ON CURRENT SCHISM AND CONTROVERSY.
SEE VICENTE, ETC.)
was the host country to the Seventh World Service Meeting
in 1982. In 1985, there were 7,500 groups with at least
F., an A.A. member from the U.S., is hailed as the founder
of Alcoholics Anonymous in El Salvador, from whence it spread
to the other Central American countries: Costa Rica, Nicaragua,
Panama, Guatemala, Honduras. Eddie got sober in Boston and
had been involved in service work there for some time before
moving to San Francisco, where, in 1947, he married a Salvadoran
woman. Seven years later, while accompanying his wife on
a visit to her native land, "Mr. Eddie" (as he is known
throughout Central America) decided to try to carry the
the start, there was cause for little but discouragement.
Over and over he was told, "In Latin America, everyone drinks,"
or "Maybe A.A. works for gringos, but folks here are different..."
But Eddie kept at it. Finally, and ironically, it was Eddie's
wife who told a woman friend about Eddie's recovery and
a little about the A.A. program. The friend asked if Eddie
could help an uncle of hers, and Eddie made his Twelfth
Step call. Fortunately, the uncle, whose name was Don Atilio
A., spoke English and sobered up. And so "Don A.A." became
the first link in a chain of sobriety for tens of thousands
of alcoholics in El Salvador.
in Mexico, a combination of demographic and social circumstances
seemed to cause the Fellowship to grow at a phenomenal rate
throughout Central America. In the first place, alcoholism
was rampant. The common people drank pulgue, a powerful
home brew made from a cactus-like plant that grew everywhere
in vast profusion. So this alcoholic beverage was universally
available and cost almost nothing. Distilled spirits such
as tequila and ruin were also plentiful and cheap. The masses
lived in poverty, without much diversion or hope of improvement,
and alcohol was used almost universally as an escape. Secondly,
as A.A. groups began, they filled a deep social need. In
Latin society, drinking was a macho occupation; the family
was excluded. But from A.A.'s beginning, the whole family
came to the meeting, which became a social gathering place.
When a new group was formed in a town, it was not unusual
for whole busloads of men, women and children to come from
A.A. in surrounding towns, staying sometimes for several
days, socializing as they helped the new group get started.
So Alcoholics Anonymous literally exploded in that part
of the world. But it did so without precise knowledge of
the principles and procedures delineated in basic A.A. literature.
Only a handful of fortunate members possessed a copy of
the Big Book and illiteracy was common.
death of Mr. Eddie on November 7, 1963, naturally aroused
concern about the progress of the A.A. movement in El Salvador
and the rest of Central America. The very night of his wake,
several members who were present discussed the necessity
of creating a service organization which could assume responsibility
for coordinating the groups and especially for distributing
A.A. literature in the Spanish language. The next year,
Allan B., a trustee and a director of A.A. World Services
in New York, visited El Salvador and Columbia for the express
purpose of helping set up literature distribution centers
in both places. The Center for Central America had as its
trustees: Dr. Julio Z. and Alejandro H. for El Salvador;
Gilberto M., for Honduras; Fermin B., for Guatamala; and
Uruz, for Nicaragua. AAWS in New York authorized a credit
of $2,000 (U.S.) for a supply of literature. But nationalistic
feelings among Central American countries were strong, A.A.
service structures were not well established, and temperaments
were volatile. Between personality clashes and financial
difficulties, the Center was closed before long and the
inventory was transferred to the Intergroup Office of El
it remained impractical as well as inefficient and expensive
for individual Central American countries to publish their
own literature and the need for a Central American Literature
Committee was still there. This was a subject of discussion
at the 1974 World Service Meeting in London; and at the
1976 WSM in New York, the Central American delegates proudly
reported the formation of such a Committee. As covered in
Chap. 17 on the WSM's, the six countries banded together
to pool their needs and establish a common inventory printed
in Costa Rica and financed by AAWS in New York. The G.S.0.'s
of the member countries ordered their needs from New York,
remitting payment there also. New York then wired authorization
to the printer in Costa Rica to ship the order.
was a significant step forward, not only in making all A.A.
pamphlets available at the lowest possible cost to alcoholics
in all the countries, but also in demonstrating that "the
common welfare should come first", transcending nationalism.
However, in the decade that followed the establishment of
the Central American Literature Committee (CALC), revolution
swept two of the countries and political unrest created
instability in others. Restrictions on the export of currency
(particularly to the U.S.) made it impossible for some countries
to order literature according to the procedure that had
been set up. Finally, the CALC decided they, too, had "come
of age" and arranged with AAWS to purchase the existing
inventory of pamphlets on credit and assume responsibility
for reselling it and reordering as necessary.
literature from El Salvador was introduced into Costa Rica
in 1958 by the nonalcoholic director of a small state agency,
the Commission on Alcoholism, where alcoholics came for
detoxing and assistance. Excited over what they learned
about Alcoholics Anonymous, five of the alcoholics decided
to hold a meeting off the premises of the agency for the
first time. This took place on July 30, 1958 at the home
of Luis H. They continued meeting regularly in homes and
at the Commission, where, in November, they received a visit
from Francisco R., an A.A. member from Mexico, who talked
to them about the Traditions and urged them to obtain a
regular meeting place of their own. At about the same time,
Hector, an American A.A. living in Costa Rica, also gave
them help and advice. The group began meeting in a building
next to Hector's restaurant and took the name, Grupo San
Jose. From this small beginning, A.A. grew rapidly. In 1985,
the service structure consisted of 28 zones in the seven
political provinces, with strong intergroups. And in that
year, the country had 700 A.A. groups with 23,000 members.
Nicaragua, the first organized group dates from 1964, in
the capital city of Managua. In 1985 there were 375 groups
and 5,625 members.
Honduran alcoholics, from Tegucigalpa, found sobriety in
El Salvador. Back home, they decided to form a group which
met for the first time July 15, 1960, with four other newcomers.
The first Honduras National A.A. Congress met in 1972. By
1978, 350 groups were registered at the G.S.O. and an estimated
75 more not registered. These included two hospital groups,
one prison groups and one armed services group. In 1985,
Honduras had a total of 650 groups with 13,000 members.
El Salvador in 1985 had 1,592 groups with a total membership
first A.A. in Panama was among Americans stationed there,
with two groups listed in 1946. There were 68 members by
1962. In January 1969, Mary Ellen U., Spanish-speaking staff
member from G.S.O./New York, visited Panama and reported
a group of 25 native Panamanians which met in room that
was a hairdressing salon (owned by one of the members) by
day. The group had been founded three years previously by
a Colombian A.A., only to fold for a time when he left.
It was reactivated due to a visit by a busload of A.A.'s
from El Salvador in the manner described earlier. By 1975,
there were 15 groups, and an Intergroup had been started
in Panama City. There were 21 groups in 1985, with 550 members.
Guatamala, the first man to receive the A.A. message was
Miguel Angel R. Miguel was given his last shot of whiskey
on the way to Quezaltenango by a Mexican, Reinaldo C., who
then told him he had several years of not drinking thanks
to a society in Mexico called A.A. Contacts between Guatamalan
alcoholics and Mexico continued on an individual basis,
but organized activity did not begin until 1960, when an
A.A. member from San Francisco arrived and began to spread
the word about Steps and Traditions. At his suggestion,
the first messages about A.A. went out over radio and A.A.
literature was obtained from G.S.O./New York. Contacts were
also made with other Central American countries.
Father Ricket arrived at this time in Guatamala City from
the town of Huehuetenango near the Mexican border. There,
he had worked with a small group of A.A.'s. Moved by the
efforts under way in the capital city, Father Ricket presented
the group with a copy of the Big Book. This first group
was called Grupo Mar.
March 1962, A.A. in Guatamala got its first big boost from
a busload of members from El Salvador intent on carrying
the message to a new territory. They appeared on the radio
program "Nuevo Mundo" to announce their presence and to
invite A. A.'s in Guatamala to contact them. In the resulting
"international" meetings, the Salvadorans shared how A.A.
worked in their country, and a lot of experience, strength
and hope was passed on—along with advice on how the
Steps and Traditions should be applied. New groups immediately
sprang up. The indefatigable Salvadorans returned for an
even more memorable meeting on September 15. At this meeting
the visitors told their A.A. stories at the public level,
and the A.A. message spread vigorously. Visits began to
hospitals and prisons and messages began to be carried in
the Guatamalan press. Still more groups were begun.
A.A. came of age during the decade that followed. The first
Central Service Committee was formed in '63, and the following
year the first Intergroup Conference was held. Two years
later, Guatamala had its first National A.A. Convention.
At the fifth Convention in 1969, approval was given to the
formation of a General Service Office and a Board of Trustees
was elected. A Service Structure was under way, and the
first General Service Conference was held in the next year.
They also began to publish their own A.A. magazine, Compentamiento.
1985, Guatamala was planning to host the Ninth World Service
Meeting, with delegates from A.A. around the world due the
following year. And in 1985, Guatamala had 725 groups with
a membership of 30,000.
September 1952, Hector C. was admitted to a clinic in Buenos
Aires for a serious alcohol problem. There he was treated
by Dr. Roberto Pochat, an Argentinean physician who had
just returned from the U.S., where he had taken a course
on alcoholism at Yale University. Furthermore, he had been
in contact with many A.A. members there, who had explained
the A.A. program to him in great detail and had enabled
him to attend many A.A. meetings.
Hector's confinement, Dr. Pochat encouraged him to read
the Big Book and a number of A.A. pamphlets in English.
Also at the doctor's suggestion, Hector wrote G.S.O. in
New York on December 18, asking for help. His letter immediately
initiated a lively and sustained correspondence, principally
with staff member Ann M., whom Hector came to consider his
sponsor. (Today, at the C.S.O. in Buenos Aires, Ann M.'s
first letter is framed and displayed to mark the birth of
A.A. in Argentina.)
January and September 1953, Hector tried unsuccessfully
to start an A.A. group. He visited alcoholics in jails and
hospitals, all the while keeping in contact with the U.S.
Through G.S.O. in New York, he met with A.A. members traveling
in Buenos Aires and managed to obtain unofficial A.A. publications
from other countries, as well as writing many people. Thus,
little by little, Hector trained himself in Alcoholics Anonymous
and strengthened his own sobriety. He also kept up his friendly
relationship with Dr. Pochat. Although Dr. Pochat avoided
intervening directly in the formation of an A.A. group,
the A.A. 's of Argentina today are grateful to him as the
precursor of the Fellowship there.
September 1953 another alcoholic, Arthur M., a British national
but a lifelong resident of Argentina, got in touch with
Hector. Arthur had traveled to the U.S. to visit family,
and ended up being treated for alcoholism while there. Afterward,
he joined A.A. in Dallas, Texas. Before returning to Buenos
Aires, he obtained Hector's name from the New York office.
Together the two men worked with new vigor, aided now by
Arthur's knowledge of A.A. in the U.S. Lamentably, Arthur,
co-founder of A.A. in Argentina, died suddenly in October
1954. But by then, a small group of eight members existed
in Buenos Aires. Despite setbacks and difficulties, the
group continued to grow in strength and numbers, serving
as the foundation of A.A. in Argentina.
1985, Argentina had 950 groups listed, with 11,000 members.
It has an established service structure with 12 Area Service
Assemblies and Intergroups, and a General Service Office.
S., from Colombia, got the A.A. message in New York in 1949.
Returning home, he met an alcoholic, Arthur E., and together
they founded a small and shaky group in the seaport town
of Barranquilla. No significant developments took place
for a decade. Arthur moved to Medellin in 1958 and in January
1959 he and three others formed a group in that city which
proved to be the foundation for A.A. in Colombia. The press
got wind of the group and ran articles which brought many
inquiries. In June a group started in Bucaramanga, followed
the next year with groups in Cali and Bogota, the capital.
The Medellin A. A. 's leaned heavily on help and advice
from the G.S.O. in New York. Countless letters went back
and forth, plus quantities of literature, to help the Latin's
comprehend the A.A. program.
years after the formation of the Medellin group, A.A. had
spread to all major cities and all through the country.
There were more than 100 Colombian groups with more than
3,000 members! And the media, the church and the medical
community had all begun to recommend A.A. to alcoholics.
The Intergroup began publication of an information and service
bulletin, and National A.A. Conferences were being held
annually. Allan B., general service trustee from New York,
attended the Seventh Conference and helped lay the basis
for a service structure in Columbia. He also suggested that
Columbia serve as a literature distribution point for other
South American countries. Almost immediately, his suggestions
were implemented. By December, the new G.S.O. had translated
and published the Big Book. Professional recognition of
A.A. reached a new high in Columbia in May 1965, when the
Medical Academy of Medellin invited A.A. to take part in
a symposium on alcoholism. In December, the General Service
Conference met for the first time.
Ellen U., a Colombian-American staff member at C.S.O. in
New York, visited her native country in 1968 and wrote a
comprehensive report on A.A. at that point. They were experiencing
problems with groups printing their own literature, which
led the Colombian G.S.O. in Medellin to consider going into
the publishing business—which Mary Ellen questioned,
as the people in the office had little or no business experience
or aptitude. (They went ahead anyway, with some of the predicted
problems.) She observed that the social level in A.A. was
changing to include more members from the middle and upper
classes. There was even a government minister. However,
there were very few women in the program due to the male-dominated
society. Although a high rate of alcoholism existed among
women at the highest social level, a great stigma also existed.
A.A. was beginning to enjoy more cooperation from doctors,
hospitals and jails. Finally, Mary Ellen noted a lack of
communication between A.A. in Medellin and in Bogota, two
very different cities with very different cultures.
the problems noted by Mary Ellen, however, Columbia in 1969
had 130 A.A. groups in 63 towns and cities, and a membership
of 3,500. Some work was going on in hospitals and prisons,
and they were enjoying considerable acceptance from doctors
and priests. By 1978, the number of groups had grown to
278, with 7,000 members. A General Service Conference was
meeting annually, and an A.A. magazine, "El Mensaje," was
being published with some regularity. Articles favorable
to A.A. had been carried in the nation's largest newspaper
in Bogota, and programs had been broadcast on the national
TV network. In 1985, the Fellowship in Columbia had increased
to 430 groups with a membership of 11,000.
was carried to Brazil by Herb and Elizabeth D., an American
A.A. couple transferred to Rio de Janeiro on business in
1946. Herb had difficulty in carrying the message to Brazilian
prospects, but the next year he and his wife were joined
by another American transplant, Doug C., and Herb had got
front-page publicity for A.A. in the newspaper 0 Globo.
From the resulting inquiries, the first group in Brazil
was formed and by 1948 had six members. Also, a few basic
A.A. pamphlets were being translated into Portuguese and
printed locally. There were 81 members in several groups
Growth in the early years was held back by lack of finances
to publish sufficient literature in Portuguese, and by the
high level of illiteracy in the poorer classes. The A.A.
message was passed on from person to person by word of mouth,
and even this was difficult because of a misunderstanding
regarding anonymity. Some groups even refused to divulge
their meeting places. But the Fellowship grew in spite of
all obstacles, and in 1976, with 600 known groups, Brazil
organized a service structure. Their first General Service
Conference was held that year. They also had a General Service
Board and a Literature Distribution Center ("CLAAB"). Sparked
by Don L., a bi-lingual member, within two or three years
nearly all basic A.A. literature was published in Portuguese.
A national monthly journal was also published. By 1978,
A.A. meetings were being taken into about 50 hospitals and
psychiatric clinics and work was beginning in the prisons.
Public information talks were being given in universities,
churches and service clubs. Much of this activity was the
responsibility of intergroups which were becoming active.
had its own celebration of A.A.'s 50th anniversary in 1985,
at which time the country had 2,241 groups with a membership
Zealand proved to be fertile ground for the A.A. seed. Ian
McE. was the drunken black sheep of a well-to-do Wellington
family. He had drunk socially for perhaps ten years before
crossing the line into active alcoholism. Eventually, like
most alcoholics, he tried many ways to stop drinking - even
going to doctors in England to seek a cure. Later he was
committed to an island drying-out establishment for inebriates.
On his release, he took a form of geographic cure by buying
a farm, thinking that farmers, being close to the land,
had fewer tensions and pressures. He was to find, to his
surprise, that they were sometimes also alcoholics.
late 1945, Ian McE. had made the rounds of the local bars.
On his way home, he passed the psychiatric hospital and
on a sudden impulse he asked the Superintendent, whom he
knew, to admit him. Since a person could commit himself
at his own request only if he was in a rational state of
mind, the doctor was reluctant. So he called Ian's wife.
She told him, "If you can get him, grab him."
in the hospital, Ian picked up a copy of the Reader's Digest
and read an article entitled "Maybe You Can Do It Too,"
by Edward McGoldrick. Ian was able to identify all the way
through. On January 3, 1946, he wrote the Alcoholics Anonymous
service office in New York for help. Bobbie B. responded
and a ten-year correspondence began. Bobbie sent some A.A.
pamphlets and a copy of the Big Book, and in her letter
she said, in effect, "We don't know whether this thing will
work by mail or not, but we see no reason why it shouldn't.
On one of the walls here we have a map of the world with
flags pinned on it wherever A.A. is found. We have just
pinned a flag on New Zealand, and you are it. Goodbye and
God bless you."
McE. read the Big Book over and over, and got sober. The
book gave him a blueprint for recovery and he spent almost
two years reading, working the program and reaching out
to other alcoholics before his efforts bore fruit. (This
particular copy of the Big Book was Ian's constant companion.
Over the years it fell apart, but rather than discard it,
he took it to a bookbinder and had it put back together
and rebound.) He contacted the health department in Wellington
and told them of his recovery. Learning that a March of
Time film featuring A.A., entitled "Problem Drinkers", was
scheduled to be shown in New Zealand, he wrote the distributors.
Armed with the showing dates for the film, he wrote the
local newspapers and the theaters, telling them of his own
experience. The effort produced a few inquiries, but no
solid recruits. In July 1947, the first A.A. visitors from
overseas arrived: actress Lillian Roth and her husband/manager,
who were to play a major role in establishing A.A. in Australia,
on the same tour. They were the first recovered alcoholics
Ian had ever met. Even with all this activity, it was not
until February 1948 that there were five members "all on
solid ground" and plans were made to form the first A.A.
group in New Zealand.
Meanwhile, A.A. #2 had come about in Auckland. A medical
doctor in that city was worried about his brother-in-law,
Alf, a dental surgeon who could not stop drinking and was
about to lose everything. The doctor wrote the health department
in Wellington asking for information about treatment for
alcoholism. They contacted Ian, who sent his copy of the
Big Book, with some pamphlets and a letter, to the doctor.
The doctor took Alf to a cabin 20 miles out in the country,
"laid the book and the pamphlets on the kitchen table and
said, 'See what you can make of these. I Then he drove away
and left Alf on his own." A few days later, Alf was sober
and never had another drink! He went on to start the first
group in Auckland province.
man wrote from Dunedin, on toilet paper, that he had lost
all and might have a problem with booze. Ian picked up his
Big Book and went the 600 miles to Dunedin. In this way,
the message was carried to several cities and groups began
to form. When there were problems or arguments - of which
there were many - they were solved by the Big Book. By '49,
there were six groups with 26 members, including one woman,
Lil T.; by the following year, the figures had doubled.
Ian, with the consent of the groups, became the General
Service Center. In October 1950, he wrote to New York about
establishing an Alcoholic Foundation. Bill W. responded
with his own experience and counseled Ian to take it easy
and not try to get too big too quickly. Actually, many members
in New Zealand resisted any form of organization in A.A.
for a number of years.
November 1955, there were 22 groups; by March '56, 44 groups
with 440 members. Mainstay, the A.A. magazine for New Zealand,
began publication in '55. The first South Island Convention
was held in May '56, and the first New Zealand Conference
in June '58, which included a public meeting in Wellington
attended by 400 people. The Wellington Intergroup was formed
in March '58 and began functioning as a General Service
Off ice for New Zealand A.A.
B., one of the original Christchurch members now living
in Wellington, had carried on a healthy correspondence with
women A.A. members in New York and was aware of women's
groups there. She and some other women members in New Zealand
felt the need for a women's group in their country. Alcoholism
carried an especially strong stigma among women, and Norah
said, "It was sad because I saw so many women die because
their families did not want the shame of A.A., which they
refused to believe in." So Norah and her friends formed
the first women's group in N.Z. in 1960, despite vocal opposition
from many of the men.
February 1964, the New Zealand Convention approved the formation
of a General Service structure and General Service Conference,
which held its first meeting in August. The N.Z. service
structure differs from that of the U.S./Canada in that the
General Service Board and the General Service Conference
are combined. The relatively large number of A.A. trustees
represent groups in all parts of the country and are elected
by the groups. Along with a small number of nonalcoholic
trustees, they meet quarterly to perform the various functions—Public
Information, Cooperation with the Professional Community,
Institutional work, etc. - that are performed by the Board
and the Conference in the U.S./Canada.
In 1973, a milestone was reached in carrying the A.A. message
to native peoples in Pacific Oceania with the publication
by N.Z. A.A. of the Steps, Traditions, Serenity Prayer and
other material from the pamphlets "Is A.A. for You?" and
"This is A.A." in six native languages: Maori, Tongan, Minean
, Samoan, Raratongan and Fijian. Jim M. from Pacheka spent
six years doing the translating and was honored by the General
Service Board in New York for this unique and dedicated
act of service.
A.A.'s 50th year - and New Zealand's 39th - N. Z. had 249
groups with an estimated membership of over 3,000.
perhaps, the first country in the world outside of North
America to have Alcoholics Anonymous was Australia - on
the farthest spot on the opposite side of the globe.
first seeds of A.A. in Australia were planted by an article
by Dr. Harry Tiebout in 1942 in the American Journal of
Psychiatry in which he described the Fellowship and quoted
a 75% recovery rate. Two nonalcoholic Australians wrote
to New York independently requesting information and a Big
Book. They were: Archie McKinnon, a psychiatric nurse at
Darlinghurst Reception House; and Dr. S.J. Minogue, Medical
Superintendent of the Rydalmere Mental Hospital. These two
men, plus another nonalcoholic, Fr. T.V. Dunlea, founder
of Boys' Town in Australia, were the moving forces in getting
Alcoholics Anonymous started there.
first man to join the A.A. program was Ben B., an alcoholic
found by Dr. Minogue and taken to Rydalmere as a voluntary
patient. There he was introduced to the Big Book in December
1944 and stayed sober until May 1945, when he slipped and
disappeared. Meanwhile, Fr. Dunlea had held an A.A. meeting,
with several active alcoholics in attendance, in a shack
in the bush at Loftus, near Sutherland, New South Wales
(NSW), on October 16, 1944. The priest had gathered the
alcoholics from skid row and set them up in tents, after
the pattern of his Boys' Town. This rag - tag group survived,
the first in Australia.
founding member of A.A., if one is to be singled out, was
Rex. Well-educated, from a prominent banking family in Sydney,
Rex finished a bender on February 22, 1945, and had himself
admitted to Darlinghurst. There he met Archie McKinnon,
who gave him a copy of the Big Book. "I read it," Rex remembers,
"and knew I had in my hands not only the solution to my
own alcoholic problem, but that of many thousand more Australians."
On his discharge, Rex met Ben B. - and later, Fr. Dunlea,
whom he describes as "no ordinary priest." Still later,
when he was taken to meet Dr. Minogue, Rex went reluctantly
because, "in the past decade, I had 'had it' with both asylums
and psychiatrists...I was agreeably surprised. Here was
a quietly dressed man in early middle age, of humble mein,
who, far from wanting to instruct us, seemed eager to learn
began to attend Thursday evening meetings which were held
at Dr. Minogue's residence at Rydalmere. Also present were
Norman M., Wally L. and Jack R. They apparently latched
onto the idea that "sobriety is to be enjoyed, not endured,"
for Rex relates, "Some of us being musical, we often varied
the A.A. talk with piano, violin and vocal entertainment."
After the group got its start at Dr. Minogue's, Rex found
a large apartment in an old colonial mansion called Bligh
House, and the group met there. As there were no referrals
from hospitals at that point, the group started a publicity
campaign. As a result the meetings grew to 30 or more—but
they also "became cluttered with philanthropists, social
workers, journalists looking for 'copy', hard-core drunks
looking to exploit A.A., and some actual psychotics." The
philanthropists were finally told their money wasn't needed,
the social workers were told A.A. did its own social work,
but the journalists were a problem. In desperation, Rex
sat down and wrote a lengthy, well thought-out, authentic
account of A.A. and submitted it to the Sydney Morning Herald.
To everyone's surprise, the paper printed it and even paid
Rex five guineas. Like Bill W. before him, Rex also took
drunks into his apartment to work on them, with the result
they were asked to leave. On August 28, 1945, the group
moved its meetings into rooms in a building on Walker Street
in North Sydney. These quarters were dingy, damp smelling
and badly ventilated. The struggling group diminished to
12 members, and then, after the Christmas holidays, to only
five survivors. About this time, A.A. in Australia was registered
as a charitable organization, and one of the members, Jack
R. campaigned vigorously for funds until wiser counsel prevailed.
1947, the group moved to the Vianney House in Sydney itself,
and things really got rolling. Attendance picked up, the
press and radio lent welcome support, and two other nonalcoholics
became interested and gave their help. Frank Harty, a radio
personality who had become familiar with American A.A. visited
frequently and sometimes spoke. And Fr. Richard Murphy,
a Jesuit priest, was a loyal friend. Fr. Dunlea received
a gift of money from a friend and used it to hire Jack R.
as a full-time secretary for A.A. Eventually the money ran
out, and Jack had to go back to regular work, which caused
a resentment and eventually a slip. He got off the booze
fairly quickly but his thinking remained alcoholic and he
formed his own group. As he had always had trouble accepting
the spiritual side of the program, he now deleted the spiritual
content and called his spin-off "The Commonsense Group."
Being a persuasive talker, he persuaded other members of
the original group to join him. Although the new version
lasted only a month and then folded, with all the members
except Jack returning, the rift was of concern to the group
and drove home the importance of unity in maintaining recovery.
Roth, the American actress, and her husband, Bert, played
a key role in establishing Alcoholics Anonymous in Melbourne.
Both of them were members of A.A. and while appearing at
Melbourne's Tivoli Theater on tour, in September 1947, Lillian
told her A. A. story at the Wesley Church. Harold J., an
alcoholic, heard her and was so impressed that he made an
appointment to see her next day. Typically alcoholic, he
missed the appointment because he was too drunk to stand
up at the time. However, he made it that day to ask the
help of a clergyman, Rev. Gordon Powell, of the Collins
St. Independent Church, and to tell him Lillian's story.
The next day, the two of them met with Lillian in her dressing
room. The following Sunday, she told her story from the
pulpit of the Independent Church.
a result of the ensuing publicity, several Melbourne alcoholics
gathered in a hall at the rear of the Independent Church
on October 13, 1947, for the first A.A. meeting in that
city. There was little knowledge at the time of how A.A.
worked at the group level. There were only two copies of
the Big Book, both privately owned. Anonymity at all costs
was the rule, and at first all meetings were closed. The
group later started holding public meetings once a month,
and favorable press coverage helped A.A. grow. Another group
formed in Brighton in 1949, and in 1951, a journal, "The
Reviver," patterned after the Grapevine, began publication
and continued to the present.
1947, there were also A.A. groups in the states of South
Australia, West Australia and Queensland. Two years later
it reached Tasmania. The Northern Territory finally got
A.A. in 1955 with a group in Darwin. The first National
Convention was held in 1959 in Melbourne, and they have
continued to be held ever since. At the first Convention
it was decided to form a national service structure with
a Board of Trustees and an Australian Service Conference.
This was followed later, in 1972, with a General Service
Office in Sydney and still later, with a publishing arm.
development of a national structure for Alcoholics Anonymous
was hampered by the nature of the country itself. Australia
is a vast continent broken down into a few very large states
which are stronger and more independent entities in relation
to the Federal government than are the United States of
America in relation to Washington. And A.A. in Australia
reflects this same pattern. The larger states developed
Service Councils which were very powerful—in effect,
mini-G.S.O.'s. And the first and most powerful of these
was the New South Wales Service Council located in Croyden,
a suburb of Sydney. The Croyden office was well funded and
was performing a full range of services for the N.S.W. groups
long before a national G.S.O. was even considered. As the
senior entity it also published A.A. pamphlets for groups
in the entire country, with copyright permission from A.A.
World Services in New York. Books were purchased from either
the U.S. or the U.K.
the National Service Office was formed, also located in
Sydney, N.S.W., it was small, weak and didn't have enough
income to function. The groups, which were supporting the
state Service Councils, did not generally contribute to
the national Service Office. The state Councils contributed
a token pittance, but otherwise ignored the national office.
So the latter had to rely for income on the sale of literature.
The Australian Service Board asked the A.A. World Services
Board in the U.S. for permission to reprint copyrighted
literature. AAWS granted the request automatically, assuming
that the N.S.W. state Council would yield its right in favor
of the national G.S.O. But such was not the case, so controversy,
conflict and bitter disunity ensued. Two Australian publishing
entities existed side by side, in competition with each
other, each having copyright permission from AAWS! The national
G.S.O. priced its literature relatively high in order to
generate enough income to keep its doors open. Croyden,
on the other hand, had its pamphlets printed in the Long
Bay prison by convict labor, so was able to offer literature
at unrealistically low prices. The situation produced desperate
calls for help from the national office, heated arguments
in the Australian Service Conference and personality clashes
and estrangements between A.A. friends.
the midst of this disunity, the AAWS Board sent Bob P. to
Australia in the spring of 1978 to try to mediate between
the two factions, and to investigate the problem at first
hand and bring back his recommendation to the Board. Bob
visited both service offices, met with the Boards of both
entities, attended the Australian Conference and talked
with other interested parties. On his return, he recommended
that AAWS withdraw its copyright permission from the N.S.W.
Service council, which was done. In the heat of the uproar,
the Council had passed a resolution declaring that the national
G.S.O. simply did not exist! ("A very alcoholic solution!"
one bemused trustee called it.) So now the Council could
not logically buy its literature from the ("nonexistent!")
G.S.O. However, it was able to buy literature from sources
in the U.S.—e.g., the Cleveland and Los Angeles Central
Offices—and resell it to Australian groups. This at
least made the competition more equal.
slowly, as younger members moved into service at both the
state and national levels, old resentments softened, the
heat of controversy cooled, and the national G.S.O. not
only survived but began to gain a small measure of financial
stability. The national service structure was more widely
accepted and the need for unity was recognized. By the middle
1980's some overtures were made for peace and cooperation
between Croyden and the national G.S.O. After 1985, the
N.S.W. Council voted to buy its literature from the G.S.O.
and to attend the General Service Conference. In the words
of Ron C., a former member of both the N.S.W. Council and
the General Service Board, "The atmosphere between the two
service arms is now much better...We can work together to
carry the message in our own way...and can again be 'partners
A.A. in Australia developed with no experience of how meetings
were conducted in the U.S., and since very few Big Books
were available, recovery depended more on fellowship and
less on program. The meetings were all "participation" format,
in which a chairman appointed for the evening called on
various members who shared a brief drunkalog and ended by
expressing their gratitude for sobriety. One member said
in 1978, "It is literally possible to be sober in A.A. in
Australia for ten years and never to have seen a copy of
the Big Book or heard the steps mentioned in a meeting."
Gradually, however, as Aussie A. A. 's traveled to the U.S.,
where they attended A. A. meetings and conventions, they
returned with suggestions for different kinds of formats.
The Big Book came into much broader distribution. And younger
members brought winds of change. Charismatic, personal influence
came from Wesley P. of Pompano Beach, Florida, who made
several tours of Australia speaking to groups who had never
had a speaker meeting and spreading the word everywhere
of the Big Book and the A.A. program. By 1985, A.A. Down
Under had a variety of meetings including Step meetings,
speaker meetings and discussion meetings as well as their
traditional participation type. The country had 952 groups
with 17,000 members.
American outpost of Guam in the far Pacific has had an indigenous
alcohol problem and a viable A.A. group from 1947 until
the present. A.A. has enjoyed the support of officials on
the military base. Bill F., the first secretary in '47,
reported the group grew from four to 24 in four weeks! However,
the rotation of personnel has always caused to membership
of the group to fluctuate. Over the years, separate groups
have existed at a civilian construction company on the island,
at Anderson Air Force Base and at the Navy Base. Guam A.A.
groups have been represented at the last several International
1985, Guam reported 15 groups and 60 members.
AND THE MIDDLE EAST
Reader's Digest's international edition struck the spark
and the Big Book lit the flame that started A.A. in South
Africa. In a single year, 1946, A.A. began in four separate
places in that country, independently and without any one
being aware of the existence of the others.
Johannesburg, Arthur S., a successful stockbroker drying
but once more in a posh hospital, read the article about
A.A. in the Digest. Impressed, he determined to find out
more about it and wrote G.S.O in New York. In return, he
received a pamphlet containing excerpts from the Big Book,
and on the basis of this he got sober. Armed with the pamphlet,
he set to work to find other alcoholics. In the upper-class
circles in which he moved, no one would admit to having
Arthur sought out six persons who would know alcoholics:
Rev. J.B.Webb, an outstanding churchman who eventually lent
respect and integrity to the movement.
Rev. A.A. Kidwell, a well-known member of the Temperance
Union and fiery teetotaler who soon clashed with the ideas
A psychiatrist who was helpful but soon left for the U.S.
Mr. Murray, head of Johannesburg's Social Services.
Miss Donovan at Johannesburg General Hospital who suggested:
Sister Maxwell, whose contribution was by far the greatest.
the help of these six, Arthur S. rounded up enough prospects
to start the first group in South Africa in October 1946.
With only the pamphlet to go on and no knowledge of the
Traditions (which had not yet been adopted anyway), the
nonalcoholic friends felt that the early members, who were
mostly down and out, needed material help such as hospitalization,
clothing and jobs. Arthur somehow felt instinctively that
his spiritual message should be kept separate from the material
help, so the team formed the Spes Bona Club to provide the
latter. Predictably, those being helped saw no difference
between the two, so A.A. immediately became known as a soft
touch. Hundreds of drunks came for the handouts, attended
an A.A. meeting or two as a gesture, and then disappeared.
Some who did receive the spiritual message and stayed were
Ronnie, Ray and Charles.
then unfortunately died of pneumonia. The financial aid
came to a halt and A.A. assumed its rightful role of helping
only those who had a sincere desire to stop drinking. Membership
quickly dropped to practically nothing. Sister Maxwell continued
to attend the almost deserted meetings, and it was almost
entirely due to this nonalcoholic friend that the group
survived its first year.
before Arthur, a black alcoholic named Soloman was wandering
the neglected streets of the black Township of Alexandra,
north of Johannesburg, reflecting the wreckage of his life.
His last bender had brought him and his family to the brink
of starvation. From a rubbish bin, he salvaged a copy of
the same Reader's Digest and read the article. He, too,
wrote G.S.O. in New York. In return, he received a pamphlet
and was registered as a lone member. Not long afterward,
G.S.O. put him in touch with Arthur S.., and the two men
met regularly until Arthur's death. Thus, Soloman was the
first sober A.A. member in South Africa, but he did not
found a group.
Cape Town, Pat O'G. reached his own rock bottom and, on
the advice of a friend, wrote New York for help. He also
received a pamphlet, and when he finally sobered up enough
to read it, he stopped drinking. After months of setbacks
and adversity, he established a Cape Town group.
the recognized founder of A.A. in South Africa was the fourth
of these pioneers, Val D., from Springs, a town about 30
miles from Johannesburg. After trying repeatedly to stop
drinking on his own, Val sought help from a priest. After
talking with him a while, the priest said he could do nothing.
As Val was about to leave, the priest reached up to a shelf
behind him and handed him a book which he had ordered from
an American organization he had heard about. It was, of
course, the Big Book—probably the only copy in all
of Africa! One reading of the Big Book struck Val sober.
He soon heard of the group in Johannesburg and went to attend
a meeting there. It was a disaster. Sister Maxwell was away
and everyone was drunk. Val fell back on what he had read
in the book and soon thereafter founded a group in Springs.
He also helped the Johannesburg group get on the right track
and in general furnished the stability which South Africa
A.A. sorely needed.
1948, a group was formed in Durban through the American
Consul, Bob McG., who had been sober a year in the U.S.,
and Robbie, who had gotten sober in Johannesburg. By 1951,
there were 10 groups in South Africa with 340 members, and
they had their first national convention in Durban in September.
By '53, there were 21 groups with over 700 members. From
the very beginning, Alcoholics Anonymous bridged the gap
that separated black from white in racially-segregated South
Africa. In the early 1950's the message was being carried
to the Zulu's and other native tribes, and despite the laws
of apartheid, white A.A. members met with blacks in meetings.
Dr. Jack Norris, in his 1974 visit, remarked with some amazement
at the free intermingling of the races at an A.A. gathering
General Service Office was established in Johannesburg in
1957, with the responsibility for distributing literature
to groups in South Africa. (This task had previously been
done by G.S.O./New York.) Six years later they reported
that they produced and stocked A.A. material in five languages:
English, Afrikaans, Sesutu, Isixhosa and Zulu and were considering
German because there were many calls for it. By 1969, they
carried 78 literature items, 29 of which they printed locally.
During these 12 years, the Johannesburg G.S.O. was structured
much like a U.S. intergroup, but in March of that year it
became responsible to the newly formed General Service Board,
and through it, the functioning General Service Conference.
A Public Information Committee was also set up in 1969.
PARAGRAPH OF DEVELOPMENT OF SERVICE STRUCTURE, CONFERENCE,
"REGMAKER", LITERATURE, ETC.)
South Africa is a bilingual nation, the Big Book was translated
into Afrikans in 1959 by Andries K. and published in March
1961—the first time the Big Book had been published
in another language.
the best known black A.A. member from South Africa is Shadrach
K., a Zulu who grew up in Soweto, the black ghetto outside
of Johannesburg. An extremely bright young man, he was University-educated
and became a journalist, a political revolutionary, and
an alcoholic. He found A.A., but was constantly in trouble
with the authorities and ended up in prison. Upon his release
he escaped to the United States in 1977. He became a teacher,
a writer and a lecturer in the anti-apartheid cause. He
also became very active in U.S. A.A., and succeeded in keeping
his "two hats" entirely separate. Shadrach was a speaker
at the big opening meeting on Friday night at the 45th Anniversary
International Convention of A.A. in New Orleans in 1980.
Africa in 1985 reported 4,500 members in 230 groups.
political unrest in South Africa heated up in 1983-85 and
American television news constantly showed black rioting
and clashes with police, John H., then Chairman of the General
Service Board in South Africa, called Bob P., general manager
of G.S.O. New York, with a message for the U.S./Canada trustees.
"In spite of what you read and hear, we want you to know
that it is 'business as usual' in Alcoholics Anonymous here.
The A.A. message is still being carried into the black communities.
And black and white members attend A.A. gatherings on either
side of the color barrier. 'Love and tolerance is our code,'
as the Big Book tells us."
alcoholism is prevalent in Kenya, persistent efforts have
been made over the years to make the A.A. program available.
The first known meeting was composed of Europeans who gathered
on Tuesday evenings at a Nairobi coffee bar in 1965. They
arranged to have published in the East African Standard
an article about A.A. which drew nine inquiries from Africans.
The first Nairobi group listed themselves with G.S.O. New
York on June 6, 1966.
INFORMATION HERE ON GROWTH, SERVICE OFFICE IF ANY, AND TRANSLATION
OF BIG BOOK INTO SWAHILI)
early as 1956 an A.A. group of eight members existed in
Israel. It stemmed from a female loner who had sobered up
through correspondence with G.S.O. New York and reading
the Big Book and other literature. Nothing further is known
until the mid-'70's when three groups were formed: Shalom
group in Jerusalem in '75, Tel-Aviv in '76, and North Israel
group in '78. The Tel-Aviv group was particularly active,
with participation from Canadian A.A.'s serving with the
U.N. forces. The Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem groups each met
twice a week in both English and Hebrew. Among the growth
problems for A.A. in Israel was the lack of literature in
Hebrew and the practice of Customs officials' opening mail
containing A.A. literature, thus threatening the recipient's
an Anniversary Round-Up in '79, there were 40 participants,
but this included individuals from Al-Anon, O.A., professionals
and visitors. In 1985, Israel A.A. reported over 60 members
in four groups.
Anonymous in India has had to overcome the obstacles of
vast distances and of incredible diversity in languages,
dialects and cultures. It has been aided, however, by an
intensity of commitment - almost a fervor - that is almost
unequalled elsewhere. Although Bombay has nearly a hundred
groups and an active Intergroup, and A.A. has spread to
most other major cities and even into the far reaches of
the land, the state is so huge and the population so enormous
that it is evident that the Fellowship has barely scratched
the surface. For despite the proscriptions against alcohol
in the Hindu faith, alcoholism is common.
for starting A.A. in India is given to Sylvia M. in New
Delhi, an Anglo - Indian madam of a high-class call girl
operation. She was being treated by a psychiatrist for her
excessive nervousness and severe drinking problem. He suggested
that Sylvia write to G.S.O. in New York, which she did in
April 1956. At the same time, Subatti M. of New Delhi wrote
G.S.O. to register as a loner. Both of them were told of
the imminent arrival of Charley M., a Canadian businessman
and a sober A.A. member, being assigned to India for two
years. As a result of their meeting, the first group began
in New Delhi February 24, 1957 It gradually began to spread,
reaching Bombay in 1957, where the pioneering work was done
by Harold M. By 1958, the Bombay group had 30 regular members.
Publicity was given to A.A. in the leading English-language
newspapers, the Pioneer and the Statesman.
Calcutta had a group. The program spread then to Lucknow,
Kainpur, Poona, Hyderbad and other locales—but not
without great effort. Because of distances, at times the
early members had to travel 100 or 200 miles to do Twelfth
Step work. Trevor K., a loner, is especially remembered
for bringing A.A. to far-flung areas. The message reached
Madras in 1967 through the efforts of Ken B., another Canadian.
It then reached Bangalore, Mangalore, Nagpur, Jamshedpur
and many other towns large and small. With time, increasing
recognition and support has come from the professional community,
especially in centers of A.A. activity such as Bombay and
Madras. From the beginning, the availability of A.A. literature
has been one of the biggest problems in India. Says Trevor
K., "We had no A.A. literature, and it was a very great
handicap to carrying the message. I had an obsession to
get A.A. literature printed in India." He carried on correspondence
with A.A. World Services in New York in which he proposed
having the printing done in India by a firm which could
be paid in New York. However, the A.A.W.S. Board did not
approve this proposal, citing the lack of any service structure
in India which could be responsible for storing and distributing
the literature. They were also reluctant to have A.A. literature
printed in the English language elsewhere when it was available
from existing sources. The problem in India was a government
restriction on any funds leaving the country. For twenty
years, A.A.'s in India pleaded, cajoled and begged for literature
from other A.A. offices and individuals around the world.
General managers of G.S.O.'s in the U.S./Canada, Great Britain
and Australia have testified to quantities of Big Books
and pamphlets being shipped to India, but so vast was the
state and so great the need that "it was like dropping the
literature into a bottomless hole." At one time in the '70's,
a letter of appeal from India reached Alberta, Canada. There
the groups contributed to a special fund to purchase 500
Big Books which G.S.O. made available at cost and shipped
handicap in providing A.A. literature in India is the profusion
of languages and dialects. Only they have the ability to
translate and to produce literature in the language of greatest
need. Today it is reported that A.A. literature in India
is amply supplied in many local languages. The Bombay Intergroup
also publishes a regular English language magazine, "The
Twelfth Step," and the Madras Intergroup publishes both
an English language magazine, "The Message," and a magazine
in Tamil, "MalarumTalvu."
1985, India had 114 groups with an estimated membership
of more than 3,000. They have had national conventions annually
since 1976, as well as local gatherings.
to G.S.O. New York in 1961, Clarence B., an A.A. from Ft.Wayne,
Indiana, stationed Kobe, Japan, observed, "I have had many
conversations with A.A. 's and others interested in alcoholism
as to why there is no A.A. in Japan and I've always received
the same answer—that the culture, customs, religions
and attitudes in Japan prevent the alcoholic here from accepting
A.A." But he went on to report that actually a Japanese
A.A. group had been going for more than four years at a
hospital near Kobe. The director of the hospital, Dr. Shegeki
Morimura, on a visit to the U.S., had studied A.A. principles
and program, and on his return had carried the message to
alcoholic patients at his hospital. AS a result, regular
meetings were being held Sunday afternoon for former patients
and some active patients. One Japanese man had four years'
sobriety, and 10 members had two years or more. The only
literature was in English which the doctor read in translation.
The doctor also understood A.A. Tradition to the extent
that he kept the group separate from the institution. Clarence
B. concluded, "After seeing this group, I would say that
the Japanese are like alcoholics everywhere."
first A.A. group in Japan was in the U.S. occupation forces,
where alcoholism was a serious problem. Harry C. was its
founder. He wrote C.S.O. from Tokyo in December 1947 that
he hoped to start a group. The next month, an article on
A.A. appeared in the Pacific Stars & Stripes, which
produced a number in inquiries which were passed along to
Harry, who also spoke to a meeting of enlisted men at a
U.S. airfield, with the blessing of the officials. He registered
the first group with G.S.O. in January 1948. Harry returned
from Japan in July, passing the secretary position to Collins
M., who reported a membership of seven.
have continued to be English-speaking A.A. groups in Japan
in growing numbers. In 1985, there were seven groups at
U.S. service camps and bases, and 16 other groups located
in most larger towns and cities - plus loners and contacts
elsewhere. In Tokyo, the groups maintain an English-speaking
Intergroup. Among the Japanese, drinking was customarily
encouraged as a part of the macho image of the male. Drunkenness
was a large enough national problem to spawn a very large
temperance society, the Danshu-Kai, whose existence probably
slowed the development of Alcoholics Anonymous.
most significant pioneer in Japanese A.A. was a nonalcoholic
priest of the Maryknoll order, Fr. Peter Tanaka, whose compassion
for alcoholics and determination to help them, led to his
getting A.A. started. In January 1978, Fr. Tanaka wrote
G.S.O. New York about translating the Big Book into Japanese
and inquiring how to obtain financial assistance to get
it printed, which was given March 15, 1979. In June 1980,
he wrote to express with gratitude that the Japanese Big
Book had been accepted with great interest and enthusiasm,
and reported they had also published Living Sober in Japanese.
At that time there were eight Japanese-speaking groups in.
Tokyo with 50 meetings a week. In addition, there were two
meetings a week in Nagoy, one in Kyoto and one in Osaka.
Fr. Peter Tanaka visited G.S.O. in 1976 and again several
years later. He died August 13, 1984, at the age of 54.
A.A. in Japan owes a debt of gratitude to Fr. Tanaka, the
early association of A.A. with the Maryknoll order also
caused some confusion and other problems. The Fathers tended
sometimes to run things without consulting the group conscience.
They translated and published Conference-approved literature
as well as Hazelden books without copyright permission and
then mingled the two indiscriminately. In spite of these
growing pains, however, a sound service structure emerged.
It began in 1981 with an ad hoc, self-appointed "Board"
with nine members, five alcoholics and four nonalcoholics,
seven men and two women. In 1983, work was started on getting
every A.A. group to elect a G.S.R. to receive communications
and to vote on decisions when called upon. A District Committee
was set up in the Kanto district (around Tokyo), which shortly
became an Area Committee, with Districts within it, meeting
monthly. Then a General Service Committee was formed in
Tokyo consisting of all these service people plus the World
Service Meeting delegate and the G.S.O. staff members. This
is expected to become the new Service Board in time and
assume responsibility for A.A. as a whole in Japan. The
General Service Committee already has seven operating committees
for public information, finance, literature, institutions,
General Service Office was set up in Tokyo in 1981 with
one full-time paid employee and five volunteers. It performs
all functions of other G. S. 0. 's including publishing
a monthly magazine entitled "7956", a meeting list which
is constantly updated, and A.A. literature, both books and
two years after the first printing of 2,000 copies of the
Big Book in Japanese had been made, less than 100 remained!
And the funds advanced by A.A.W.S. had been repaid! Again
financial assistance was requested and given for a second
printing of the Big Book and a first printing of The Twelve
Steps and Twelve Traditions in Japanese.
1985, there were 130 groups in Japan - 60% in the Kanto
area in and around Tokyo, 20% in the Osaka/Nagoya area,
and 20% in the rest of the country - with each group holding
between two and 14 meetings a week. Estimated membership
was about 2,000.
was carried to Okinawa with the American military occupation
following World War II. In July 1947, Tommy C., who had
found A.A. in Los Angeles and was now with a construction
company, wrote G.S.O. that he had started a meeting in Okinawa
with 13 other attending, with the support of his superiors.
That group unfortunately fell apart when Tommy went on a
bender. But it was revived by two of its members, Svigard
K. and Elwood W., with the same construction company. They
named it the Pioneer group and began to get recruits from
the military. By March '48 the group was going well with
50 members and had its own clubrooms. Soon afterward, the
company, having completed its contracts, cut back severely
on its work force—beginning with the practicing alcoholics
who had not yet reached A.A.! So the group declined quickly
to nine. When the company pulled out completely two years
later, it was reduced to three.
WITH NATIVE OKINAWAN A.A. DEVELOPMENT FROM FILES)
in 1985 had three English-speaking groups besides the native
short-lived American A.A. group met in Korea in 1948, but
the first viable group began in November 1952, called the
Yong Dong Po group. It consisted of three members at the
start but was put in touch with 12 other loners in the American
military by G.S.0. New York.
WITH NATIVE KOREAN INFO FROM FILES)
had 20 groups in 1985, and 175 members.