Written by George Ochieng
Friday, 20 March 2015 16:12
On the plane to Vienna my mind was full of expectation especially in my prevention work, Bundle of joy through the stream of my blood vessels with high expectation in my heart that there is something good for my work through the 58th Commission on Narcotic Drugs and preparation for the forth coming UNGASS.
Moments of reflection before my landing knocked hard at back of my brain and I thought hard about the voices of the poor voiceless young children I work with through Vienna Forums, they shared their expectations that they would love the world to know and be taken for consideration in the forth coming UNGASS. I checked on my note book to review what they shared with me, I asked myself how will it be possible for people to acknowledge the little known grass root and voiceless organization coming from the rubbish and neglected part of the world, this left me in dilemma.
I checked into my Hotel in Vienna, my mind was still troubled about where am going and I was so eager to step a foot into the United Nations building especially the one related to my work, Narcotics. This was a dream come true, from a chilly, freezing weather, ultra modern train to tight security check up, I made my way into the warm, nice and welcoming environment of UNODC.
Made my way to the general Assembly where the official opening was taking place, took some photos and shared with my friends and street children I work with back home that I have reached Vienna International Center the Headquarter of UNODC and their message will be delivered, messages of joy and best wishes come through.
My first assignment was being given a platform by Vienna NGO Committee to share our expectation at the forthcoming UNGASS; I knew this was my time, to deliver what I was sent to share with the world. When I saw my name printed and a chair reserved for me, I had several heat beats and to some extend I was nearly declining the offer but the inner push from the voices of this children gave me courage to move ahead and take the mantle to air their voices. It was a honor to sit in the platform to share the voices, but much was still ahead, many people encouraged me for the good work and urged me to keep the fire burning.
Walking into the side event organized by WOCAD and Koffi Annan Foundation I had too much expectation and knew something good would come out for the poor children globally more so Africa. Through the presentation made I knew there was hope especially when former president of Nigeria took to the stage. Through the speech I felt hit hard when he mentioned prevention has failed, this meant that my work in the streets with kids is in vain.
If my work was in vain, then why did drug cartel vandalize our offices in the slums? Why did drug cartel attack us and pushed us into forceful eviction from our place in the slums? They were losing and they recorded lose from our stand of telling children the truth and keeping them off from drugs and the only way to win us was to divide and separate us from the children I work with, so that they can spread fiction to children to buy their products, that cause more harm than good.
When this was running through my mind the former president was through with his presentation, I wanted an audience to tell him that prevention has not failed and ask him how they can protect poor grassroots organization like mine from the so called “big fish” who have not been feeling ok in our prevention work down in the slums of Korogocho and the entire world. I was bold and courageous to ask Mr. president my question adding that I come from the slums, which many people who come from similar background fear sharing, My question was answered but not to my satisfaction, this left me with question mark who will the poor children in the slums turn to for protection against Narcotics?
I thought I was the only offended in my prevention work and looking forward for the next day there were side events on prevention, I was eager to know and look at the best experience that I could take home. I attended the prevention side events and I knew there is hope for me and the people working in the field of prevention.
Attending side event organized by WFAD, IOGT and slum Child foundation was a great opportunity to share with the world how we have been hit hard by drug cartel who are for treatment not prevention, through the session I was able to know how legalization of marijuana has had effects in different parts of the world. Immediately I had a mental reflection of how things would look like in the slums if Marijuana could be made legal.
On Friday was my last day to be at the Vienna International Center, I thank God that I was selected to air the views of the grassroots organization through the platform of Market place to the world and I thank Michele Perron for the Idea and VNGOC / UNODC for implementing the idea and looking forward for the big launch next year during UNGASS. For me I thought such platform would be meant for big organization and small or grassroots organization would have no voice especially during big event such as the 58th CND and the forthcoming UNGASS.
Before I left Vienna I shared with colleagues from Africa to have a consortium of Organization working in the field of Narcotics so that we can have one united voice on matters related to subject of discussion and I have developed everything in place. Pan Africa Substance Abuse Consortium (PASAC) is rolling down, special thanks to UNODC, VNGOC, WFAD and others for making this happen.
Written by Malin Thorsson
Friday, 09 January 2015 16:35
We young people are the losers if you legalize cannabis
Big business sees an opportunity to make money on cannabis legalization – they want to make profits while we, the young, and society at large will bear the real costs.
It has been claimed in the Swedish debate that the first step to achieve a sustainable drug policy is to have an open and objective debate. The Swedish Youth Temperance Organization, UNF, agree completely. We need a debate based on facts and a debate that also listens to young people.
We agree that there is no need to exaggerate the negative impacts of cannabis and it only lowers credibility when adults tell horror stories. Young people prefer reasonable arguments and evidence based information. For example one study of Meier et al. that followed over 1000 person for almost 40 years. It is one of several new studies that show that smoking cannabis while young will decrease several functions in the brain and will lower IQ. We need to listen to research, there is clear and solid evidence that cannabis can damage IQ and memory, impair motor skills and lead to addiction. The proven effects are foremost connected to the young brain. We are the ones with the most to lose if cannabis becomes legal and accepted in society.
As many cannabis advocates point to alcohol is a legal drug and is accepted as a natural part of life – sometimes also for the young. The benefit of legalization of cannabis is often argued by claiming that it will decrease the consumption of alcohol and other drugs, this is not true. UNF works daily to break the norm around alcohol and we struggle to make the adult world take responsibility so no adults provide alcohol to young people. No one is happier than UNF if we can discuss the negative impact of alcohol among young people and in society as a whole.
But trying to exchange one drug with another is doomed to fail. Surveys show that young people who smoke cannabis also drink more alcohol. The best way to protect youth from the harms of drugs in an evidence based way, as many in the debate claim they want, is to focus on low availability and high prices.
The idea that a restrictive drug policy is in conflict with humane and effective treatment is also wrong. A restrictive policy leads to fewer persons in addiction and more resources to help and treat those who need support from society. The ones who benefit from a legalization of cannabis are not the persons with addiction or the young. It is big companies and entrepreneurs who see the opportunity to make money on the cannabis industry. That is the reason why George Soros gives millions of US dollars to advocacy organizations to work for legalization in the US. They want to get the profit while the young and society will pay the price.
The creation of a legal industry around cannabis will not help people with addiction. But there is a lot more Sweden can do and UNF wants to be a part of the work for improved addiction treatment. We are convinced that our treatment centers will not have an easier task if there are more legal substances available and more people with addiction.
Young people like us are not naïve, and our voice should be heard in the debate on cannabis. The loud proponents of cannabis legalization are often young but the majority of young people see the risks with cannabis and want cannabis to stay illegal. In a Swedish survey only 14 percent of people under 30 answered that it should be legal to smoke cannabis.
Alcohol, cannabis and other drugs are vital issues for young and decriminalization and legalization is not the solution. A continued restrictive policy together with improved treatment and preventive measures are important initiatives supported by experience and research. Sweden as well as other countries can do more and we in UNF are willing to join and fight for this, together with as many young people as possible.
Malin Thorson President, Swedish Youth Temperance Organization (UNF)
Written by Linda Nilsson
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 17:20
The testimony below is from a person at the rehabilitation centre "Cenacle of the Son of Man", one of WFAD's member organizations.
I was born 1980 with a clear mind and an angel heart as every child in this world. I lived a quite nice life under a free blue sky. Fifteen years passed in the blink of an eye full of excitement and ambition. In 1996 a girl came into my life and changed every dream and every thought in my daily agenda. At that time all I was thinking about was wake up every morning and see her beside me.
For her, I was simply a guy with needs. But she changed my life and turned it into unbearable hell. With her, I discovered marijuana for the first time iy life.She was so proud of herself, so proud of the life of addiction that she made a long term commitment with Lucifer and chose me to be her partner. I believed her and never realized that such an innocent and beautiful girl could act so badly with such an amount of lies.
Few years later, in 2000 I went with her to a cocaine binge party at her friend. She soon disappeared. A week later, I heard from a friend that she died from a drug overdose. lost all my hope and my journey to hell began. Three years of struggle after her death, I decided to travel to Far East saying to myself that this could be a cure so my life would be back on track again. But I was wrong.
There, I learned crack and speed and free base, the most dangerous drugs of them all which blacked out my mind and destroyed my life more than ever. Deep inside, I knew that this was wrong, I couldn’t trust myself anymore and always found a reason to escape by taking drugs. After all I was lying to myself with no sympathy. So I started praying every day and night asking God to release me from devil inside me but my prayers weren't answered.
2007, I started my new business and succeeded to make good money but the problem I faced was how to keep all this money with drugs addiction possessing my life and pushing me to lose the trust of my family and friends.
Every night , I used to lay down on my bed and hear myself saying silently: "I want to stop" from the bottom of my heart, then the voice of my other self, my bad self, said no and sometime me and my bad self used to have endless conversation, sometime my good self won sometimes my bad self did. Life is so short, how can I live this desperate life with my family?
Of course, I couldn’t let them catch me and they will never understand... How could they? The only way to make them understand is to tell them the truth but I couldn’t.
I was living my life in the fast laneand it surely made me lose my mind and made me reach the last limits.
Every day and every night I used to ask myself in bed and tried to imagine what it looks like to be normal? How can I change my life again? I can’t even remember when the last time I was normal. I was longing to have a normal life. I didn’t want anybody to know how different I was.
27/8/2007 I was arrested for almost 28 days for drugs use. What a nightmare! Years and years of struggle, I could not find my way to the light... Dark thoughts... Nightmares… Lies… It had been a long hard trip but after all I was alive praying every day. It is said that living is higher perfection than being, and understanding is higher than living.20 years of drugs addiction and lies I didn’t gain anything from it. Moreover, I was losing all my friends and family members one after another.
2013 I decided to stop so I took a real decision to change and have a good life, a new life just like a new born child.My father and mother sister and brother supported me and gave me mental support, month after month from shrink to another but they unfortunately failed. Nevertheless, my prayer didn’t stop and I was asking God desperately to help me.
2014, I realized the truth that drugs are illusion and I could gain nothing from it.It was like a frightening dream somehow, I was alone... it was very dark... I grabbed through stifling blackness, trying to find a light but all I found was darkness.Darkness and the sound of my own breathing, harder and harder as I was grabbed more and more madly through the darkness.
Once, I heard myself saying: Lord is greater than I can see so I prayed to change my life forever and will never be afraid to close my eyes.It’s hard to know where you are going if you can’t know where you have been
Here I am standing in front of you my friends and brother in life with my story as a Muslim in a Christian Rehabilitation Center where I feel no difference in treatment and believe.“St. John says: when God shall appear, we shall be like to him because we shall see him as he is.” If you wish to attain to his likening to God in our heavenly country you must take pains to be linked to him in good works here on earth: Jesus Christ came to send peace upon earth. “Thomas Aquinas writer”
And I feel that I was recovered from my thoughts and my daily life and I have new vision in life from my experience. I think it is enough to look forward and begin to live for tomorrow and save my soul before it is too late.
Written by Linda Nilsson
Thursday, 27 November 2014 16:48
SLum Child Foundation is every year arranging a Student convention on Drugs, this year the convention gathered 250 students, both boys and girls.
The Student convention is an open forum for high school students more so the girls from poor urban settlements in Kenya to come together and share on the best methodologies to curb the menace of drugs with key focus on social and psychological challenges they face in high school with other stakeholders in drug and substance abuse related fields. Through the convention which will is held annually the participants will get to learn and be in a position to engage the speakers in a plenary session with questions and sharing ranging from social to policy based in the fields of drugs and substance abuse.
The Convention seeks to create awareness to young girls in from the major poor urban settlements, otherwise known as slums in Nairobi, Kenya. The purpose is to address the many issues affecting girls both in and out of school that include but not limited to school dropout, poor performances in school among girls, prostitution, teenage marriage and pregnancies, HIV/AIDS and many more just but to mention a few.
The 2014 Convention managed to reach 250 participants, both boys and girls. A few girls went home with sanitary towels that were enough to take them for a term.
At the Convention Slum Child Foundation also handed out the Smart Girl Award. It is an initiative that aims at identifying, recognizing and awarding the efforts of young girls in schools from the slums, who are determined to go an extra mile and leave no stone unturned for the sake of helping other girls and to overcome the challenges they are facing as a result of poverty in the slums with regards to education and social life. It is the second year that Slum Child Foudnation is handing out the award.
Written by Mina Seinfeld de Carakushansky
Monday, 20 October 2014 11:14
On August, 23, Kevin Sabet made an excellent presentation by the title: “The Impact of Drug Legalization”. He showed the latest data on the negative effects of the Colorado´s State drug policy and presented shortly the main points of his book “Reefer Madness – the Seven Myths about Marihuana”
The event took place at the impressive São Paulo State Palace called “Palacio dos Bandeirantes” in front of an audience of about 1500 people with an impeccable organization. The initiative and all the coordination was undertaken by Dr. Ronaldo Laranjeira of UNIAD, which is a WFAD member contributing to counteract the misinformation done generally by the Brazilian Press on issues regarding drugs.
Kevin’s presentation was informative and useful to all those who strive for a society with no drug use, because it showed everyone in the audience that NO DRUG Legalization is the way to go.
Although I live far away from São Paulo, I attended the Conference in São Paulo, in my capacity of Prevention Director of ABRAD (a member of the WFAD) and as President of BRAHA- Brazilian Humanitarians in Action, thanks to the encouragement of ABRAD President, Jorge Jaber.
At the event strong and clear messages were conveyed by Jose Serra, Ex-Governor of São Paulo and ex-Minister of Health and now a candidate for the Brazilian Senate, as well as by two other State Secretaries of São Paulo. The interview on Brazil’s biggest news site, here, received about 20 million clicks.
Hepatitis is a global epidemic but little is known of its symptoms, prevention, complication and the great dangers it pose to this generation and the unborn generations. Government and other development partners have always taken matters like this unserious thereby fueling viral hepatitis which is on the increase.
This year WHD is a very important period for our government and other actors to play their own part most especially with the theme of 2014 “Hepatitis, Think Again” which is calling on the various stakeholders to play a very important role to see that viral hepatitis is controlled. Read the full report.
At Preporod today, after 8 years of supporting and helping addicts and their families, we are satisfied with what we have achieved and see many of our aims realised. We see revived the lives of many young people who have turned to us, and entire families revived. Over this time, addicts from all over Montenegro have turned to Preporod for help. Ever since it was established, the number of people turning to Preporod for help has been constantly growing which, on one hand is gratifying, given that we are in a position to help a larger number of addicts, but on the other hand it points to a problem which is a worldwide trend, and that is that the scale of the problem of drugs is constantly growing, especially among young people. These days we have the opportunity to also concentrate on the accomplishments of the last few years. From June 2013 to June 2014 Preporod has been an address where help, support and advice have been sought by 118 individuals, whether addicts or members of their families. We are noticing that the services most used during this period by our clients are motivational interviews for acceptance of long-term residential treatment (33.8%), free telephone line (16.1%), as well as counselling for parents of active addicts (15.3%). The percentage of males making use of our services (66.1%) is higher than for women (33.9%). It is also gratifying that, after the process of motivation, we have directed more than half (52%) of those used our motivational interview services to long-term residential treatment in communes all over Europe. Also, 3.4% of the total number contacted Preporod in order to use our counselling service for addicts who have the blood-transmitted infections HCV/HIV, 6.4% for the possibility of psychotherapy, and 4.2% for help for resocialisation. We are of the opinion that, with our earlier introduction of the first free SOS telephone line in Montenegro for addicts and their families, we have significantly increased the possibility of them contacting our organisation, and thereby, increasing the accessibility of the services that we offer, which is testified to by the fact that the line was called almost 90 times during the mentioned time period.
Cooperation with rehabilitation centres and communes in the country, the wider region and even further afield is still operating at a high level. Thanks to the projects we have realised in the last year, we have widened our cooperation even to state institutions. We believe that this approach does much to broaden awareness about the seriousness of this problem, and also to create the possibility to act together and more holistically. We believe that our organisation has been able to act in the best possible way in each individual case, or at least the best way that we have known. We will continue to search for the best solutions and method so as to best effect a reduction in the total number of addicts, and to bring our influence to bear on our society becoming a healthier place. Membership of European and worldwide umbrella institutes and partnerships with organisations from all continents are making our mission much easier.
Finally, we consider that it is important for us to be conscientious and aware, and to that end, every one of us should act, without prejudice, with clear understanding that our approach is never neutral, but that our inactivity can lead to a produženja stanja onakvog kakvim ono ne treba biti. We shoud be aware that the problem of an individual, for example a single drug addict, is a problem for the whole family, and eventually the whole of society. The problem of addiction has become an obvious problem that we should turn our attention to. For those affected by this illness, help and attention are neecessary, not only today while everyone is talking about it, but rather every day.
Thank you to all who have in any way helped our fight prevail and helped Preporod to be in the position it is.
In cooperation with Foundation for a Drug Free World, GRANAT conducted its pilot Train the Trainers on April 15 – 17 this year at the mountain resort of Lembang, West Java.
On the first day, BNN (National Narcotics Board) West Java provincial chapter conducted classes on regulations (anti drugs law), discussion on rehabilitation for drug users as victim, as well as updates on statistical record of drug abuse and trafficking.
The Truth About Drugs were delivered by the FDFW team which enlightened everyone’s mind, including those of BNN Officials.
The training gets serious attention from the authorities as evidenced by the present of BNN Chairman.
All attendees got certificate of attendance which allows them to deliver the same training to the community. Further, at the end of the course, everyone signed off the pledge declaring their “obligation” to provide counselling on the harmful effect of drug abuse to community.
More similar trainings to be done in other provinces across the country, aimed at reducing drug demands in Indonesia.
GRANAT welcome all members of WFAD to participate or support the program. Kindly contact Tony Parbudi on email
UGANDA ALCOHOL POLICY ALLIANCE (UAPA). Media Presentation by Uganda Alcohol Policy Alliance (UAPA) on the occasion to commemorate the International Day Against Drug Use and Illicit Trafficking. World Drug Campaign theme is: Drug use disorders are preventable and treatable. Venue: Ibamba Restaurant, Kamwokya Date: Thursday, June 26, 2014.
Our most important task is to give support and guidance to the ones close to the drug-user. We need to highlight their codependency and work from that angle. Often the relatives think that they help the drug-user, but they usually do it in the wrong way. We want to present alternative ways with the common goal to make the relatives feel better and the drug-user to get adequate help.