Written by Unified Initiative for a Drug Free Nigeria
Wednesday, 24 July 2013 08:56
In our quest to help in eradicating drug abuse in Nigeria schooling system Unified Initiative For A Drug Free Nigeria set out on the 20th of March, 2013 in what turned out as a major drive in her effort to eradicate the use of drugs in one of Nigeria’s densely populated states – Ogun State, located in the south west zone of Africa’s most populated country, Nigeria.
The law on Anti Narcotics stipulates that drug addicts are deemed victims and therefore should be sent to rehabilitation centres instead of prison. Drug trafficker however, carries a maximum penalty of death. We paid the Attorney General offices a visit to express our concerns that many inmates who have been sentenced to death over five years ago still freely and safely controlled drug trafficking from prison, hence we encouraged AG for law enforcement. Following the meeting, two inmates were executed and the AG promised to execute others soon.
In order to curb drug trafficking, and help particularly young people to stay clear of drugs, GRANAT is planning to launch massive anti drug campaign by producing more counsellors through a train-the-trainers course.
Written by Foundation for a Drug Free Europe
Monday, 22 July 2013 10:35
On June 26 the Foundation for a Drug-Free Europe (FDFE) organized in Brussels, a European Meeting on the theme Drug & Prevention to celebrate the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. This aligned with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime motto: Make health your “new high” in life, not drugs.
In front of an audience composed of diplomats, professors, presidents of youth associations, educators, the FDFE member from Germany based on the EMCDDA Report gave an overview of the drug problem in Europe. She was followed by the presentation of the FDFE educative tools and activities across Europe. Then the guest speakers, all drug experts, coming from different European countries took the floor: a M.D. from Italy who exposed the debilitating danger, often fatal, of the new synthetic drugs; the renown French Jungian psychoanalyst, former Director of the DIDRO Center, Paris; the former Drug Section Director of the Health Ministry of Hungary. All stressed on the importance of prevention, information and communication with the youth to educate them on the drug dangers.
An interactive worlshop, was led by the President of Say No To Drug France on « How to speak to youth about drugs ». The Day ended with the presentation of the song « Cocaine » written by a public in memory of his best friend.
Foundation for Democratic Initiatives and Development (FDID-SL) is a civil society organization that has its headquarters in Freetown and a regional office in Bo City (Bo District) in southern Sierra Leone. (FDID-SL) is a Child and youth serving Human rights and development-oriented organization that has championed Youth Issues in Freetown and other parts of the country, especially in the Bo and Bonthe districts of Sierra Leone, since its inception.
FDID-SL works to enhance Youth’s active participation and involvement in upholding and promoting a sustainable development culture and participatory governance at grass root levels, through effective information dissemination, advocacy, lobbying, dialogue, civic education and community driven activities.
In a bid to work on youth issues and operate a smooth human rights/development agenda, (FDID-SL) has partnership agreement with other civil society organizations in the country. Because the motto of FDID is “Development through Civic Engagement”, our operations are geared towards the grass root in every community. Our slogan: “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much” reflects the well-being of the majority of the people we defend and work with.
POPULATION SIZE ESTIMATE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST HIV
The National HIV/AIDS Secretariat contracted FDID-SL to undertake a survey on Sierra Leone population size estimate in the fight against HIV from the 28 th of February to the 12th March, 2013. FDID-SL send six personnel to the four (4) Regions of the country to map out how many people do inject drugs in the country. The task was carried out efficiently and the results handed over to the secretariat.
POPULARISING DRUG PREVENTION AND DEMAND REDUCTION MASSAGE
FDID was consulted by GOAL Ireland an international NGO to send in their peer mentors for a six (6) months exercise in taking their drug prevention techniques to other youths in their hide outs. FDID provided fifteen outreach workers who have worked closely with GOAL Ireland to propagate the drug prevention massage through outreaches from February to June 2013
MEETING WITH STREET KIDS AND YOUTHS IN SIERRA LEONE
Street youths in Sierra Leone are very vulnerable to disease as they very heavily indulged in risky behaviors. They can be easily spotted in parks, city centers, street corners, and bus stations looking for menial jobs to make living.
Street youths in Sierra Leone are mostly not considered by successive governments. This makes their situation worse as they sleep outside and live in filthy environments with very poor food and sometimes they can go days without food. They also have access to little or no medical facility right across the country.
Seventy percent (70%) of street youths in Sierra Leone considers themselves abandoned by both the local administration and the central government.
Today in Sierra Leone, Street youths are no longer restricted to urban areas but they can also be seen in rural areas. Before the war in Sierra Leone, street youths were male dominated but today there are a lot of female street youths who are very visible at night around entertainment areas. Most of them sell sex in exchange for money and food.
A good number of street youths in Sierra Leone do drugs and are most times very violent and ill-mannered as perceived by the general public. Their own argument is the complete opposite. They say they are very friendly and law abiding but that they are often misunderstood by the general public; they also argue that they are being marginalized from basic social amenities in the country. They further argue that they are not treated as citizens of the country because there is nothing they enjoy as rights but on the other hand, the public expect them to be very responsible.
One leader of a youth sect ”Long Bench” at Brookfields in Freetown Sierra Leone’s capital told me that the public should excuse them because he said most youths were conscripted into the warring factions as child combatants and fought in the decade long rebel war and were
Foundation for Democratic Initiatives and Dev. A youth serving agency in Sierra Leone met with
Street kids to discuss the problems they face in Sierra Leone.
FOUNDATION FOR DEMOCRATIC INITIATIVES AND DEVELOPMENT (FDID-SL) In COLLARBORATION WITH THE U.S. EMBASSY ENGAGED YOUTHS OF BLACK STREET (STADIUM CAR PARK)
With a long standing bilateral relationship between Sierra Leone and the United State of America, the US has always kept to their fundamental principles of helping developing countries.
In a bid to foster Good Governance and Peace Building FDID-SL a non-governmental organization currently working on drug prevention and demand reduction in collaboration with the American Embassy on the 27th of February engaged street youths in a hideout call Black Street in western part of the city.
Given the welcome address, the Communication and Outreach Officer of FDID-SL Mr. Edward N. Blake stressed the need for an urgent intervention as most of the country’s youths are now involved with one illicit drug or the other. This he said should be addressed so that this country will not slide into another violent conflict.
Highlighting the purpose of the visit and delivering a massage of hope and inspiration, the Executive Director of FDID-SL Mr. Hindowa E. Saidu implored on the youths that he was not strange to them and also the problems they face, but that their challenges are being channeled to the stake-holders and it is as a result of this he did not come alone, that this time he was there with a senior official of the United States Embassy. He said these people were there to see how best they can collaborate with FDID to look for possible solutions to their problems.
Making a statement and at the same time advising the youths on the dangers of taking drugs, the head of political affairs of the Embassy MR. Joshua E. Stern said if Sierra Leone is to change today, then the mind set of youths need to change and they should be engage in things that would bring both socio-political and economic change to their country. He lauded the effort of the president in making youth issue of paramount focus in his agenda for prosperity. He also assured the youths that the U.S. embassy will hold consultations with FDID in order to address the problems of the youths especially the once at Black street.
Most of the youths who spoke thanked the joint team from FDID and the United States Embassy for coming to visit them. They blamed the Government for not given them employment facilities. Most of these youths claimed to be drivers and indeed they produced their driving license, others said they were masonry, carpenters, auto mechanics, tailors etc. A clarion call was made by the head of black Street to the authorities who are supposed to be addressing issues or challenges confronting the youths of Sierra Leone.
The occasion was climaxed by a question and answers session which left the youths with opening ears looking forward to agencies who can work with them to make them gainfully employed or send back to school those who are of school going ages.
The Political Affairs Officer of the US Embassy Joshua E. Stern, the Executive Director of FDID-SL, Hindowa E. Saidu and some unemployed youths.
FOUNDATION FOR DEMOCRATIC INITIATIVES AND DEVELOPMENT (FDID-SL) SHIFT’S ITS DRUG ADVOCACY TO SEWA GROUNDS (VICTORIAL PARK)
The condition/situation of youths is becoming serious by the day in this country as drugs or illegal substances are seeing as an alternative source of seeking solace, as the vast majority of the youths in the country are uneducated, unskilled and unemployed
Foundation for democratic initiatives and development(FDID-SL), a youth serving and drug prevention organization in sierra Leone, engaged street youths and children at the Sewa Grounds (Victoria park)a hide-out in the central business district of Freetown on the 4th of March 2013.The team was led by the executive director of the organization and other members of staff and were also accompanied by a consultant from the united states of America who was in sierra Leone to conduct a training for FDID-SL and other organizations.
At the Sewa Grounds, the leader of the hide-out (BRA) Mr. Sampha Kamara called the meeting to order by calling on the youths to be very attentive. He also praised FDID-SL as the only organization who ventures into hide-outs with drug prevention and education messages. He further went on to say that the youths are ready for a complete change of life if only the necessary opportunities are given.
Giving an overview of the visit, the Executive Director of FDID-SL Mr. Hindowa.E.Saidu took off by introducing MELISSA DITMORE a lead consultant for the HIV/AIDS secretariat in Sierra Leone. He said Melissa is in the country for the next two weeks on population size estimation but then looking at key populations. Mr. Saidu implored the youths that they are serious about the problems of the youths, and that they are trying to see how best they can help as a civil society in lobbying Government and other stake holders in solving their problems.
Surprising to see that afternoon were children ageing between Nine (9) to Fourteen (14) years. Most of them were under the influence of drugs at that time of the day and some were sleeping as the meeting went on. One important message FDID-SL got from the youths at Sewa Grounds was that, just last week they had buried sixteen (16) of their colleagues as a result of the proliferation of unregulated sachets alcoholic drinks that are easily accessible and affordable in the market. The youths said these products are dangerous for consumption.
Melissa Ditmore thanked FDID-SL for the wonderful job they are doing in trying to engage the minds of these young people and educating them from taking drugs and other illegal substances, she said an alternative health care was one thing they needed as well as jobs.
Making a statement and at the same time thanking the visiting team, one of the longest serving female members of the hideout Kadie Kaisamba also known as (Granny) said she is a hair dresser and wanted start up kits. She said her husband who is also member of the hideout is a driver and most of the in-mates are skilled in other areas and if only they can receive help from government and other NGOs, they will leave the street. Various speakers appealed to Government to come to their aid so that they may also be able to use their potentials in the development process of their communities and the country as a whole. A ten (10) year old child Mohamed Kargbo told his audience that he was ready to go back to school as he left his home ecause his parents were unable to take of his needs.
FOUNDATION FOR DEMOCRATIC INITIATIVES AND DEVELOPMENT (FDID-SL) INTERACTED WITH STREET KIDS AT WATER STREET (BACK OF BUS STATION) IN FREETOWN:
FDID-SL is a child and youth serving organization with a vision to see a drug free Sierra Leone with an empowered children and youthful population on the 4th of April this year engaged street kids at the Bus Station Community with their usual drug prevention and demand reduction education massage.
Addressing about sixty (60) street kids, the Director of FDID-SL Mr. Hindowa E. Saidu encouraged the children to live a healthy life style away from drug and violence. He said drug and violence have the potential of destroying their health and rub them of a better future. He admonished the children to stay off drug and violence, He also implored on them to visit the FDID-SL headquarter’s to see if it can help in linking some them with other organizations who can assist them with their welfare.
The programme Officer for FDID-SL Mr. Habib T. Kamara pleaded with the children to stop risky practices as it might land them into prison or deteriorate their health. Speaking on the hazards and disadvantages of drug, Mr. Kamara intimated the children that a recent survey undertaking by FDID-SL has shown that their age mates in other ghettoes across the city were losing their lives carelessly as a result of drugs. He furthered that the future of this country squarely rest on their shoulders, so they should do everything possible to protect their own lives.
Although Sierra Leone has been identified by the international community as a transit point for most hard drugs and narcotics such as cocaine to the west, the country has also endured the cultivation of illegal crops such as marijuana. In recent times, the cultivation of marijuana in Sierra Leone has seen unprecedented records with untold social and economic consequences. According to an independent survey in 2006, almost every village in especially the border regions has a huge bed of marijuana farms. In most of the cases efforts by authorities to curb this illegal activity have proved futile. Suspectingly, because of the massive revenue illegal though, though and lack of proper control policies and prosecution, together with connivance on the part of authorities, this stigma seem unabated and with impurity. Marijuana is trafficked across the borders of Sierra Leone to especially neighboring Guinea and Liberia on almost a daily bases. Astonishingly also because of illiteracy and poverty, the seriousness of these clandestine criminal activities is unnoticed as the locals consider it as just one form of obtaining livelihood. As a result, marijuana use is common and every day teenagers are recruited into addiction and are in fact used as sales agents in youth hideout and even schools.
‘’CATCHED THEM WHEN THEY ARE YOUNG’’ is a new project lunched by FDID-SL to target the children of school going ages as well as those who drop out of school with the community drug prevention and education messages. This project will be replicated into different communities, especially poor neighborhood across the country.
A cross section of Street Kids at Bus Station Community and FDID-SL Staff
HEALTH AND SANITATION
To make our environments clean and safe from malaria, typhoid and cholera dieses, FDID mobilized a group of community youths ahead of the raining season on the 20th and 21st of April,2013 to clean the Susan’s Bay Community in the Eastern part of Freetown and also using mega phones to sensitize the population about the hazards of these disease and how to prevent them.
NATIONAL TOBACCO CONTROL STRATEGY
FDID-SL in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and other partners lunched the National Tobacco Control Strategy for 2013-2016 on the 15th June, 2013
ENGAGING YOUTHS FOR SURSTAINABLE DEMOCRACY (AFTER A PEACEFULL ELECTIONS- A FOLLOW UP PROJECT-12TH – 30TH APRIL, 2013
Foundation for Democratic Initiatives and Development- Sierra Leone (FDID-SL) with funds from British High Commission Sierra Leone has concluded a follow up project to enable youths participate in governance at local level in Koidu and Bo Cities.
FDID-SL engaged the service of local expert to train youths in governance issues in order to increase participation in civic activities which will cultivate a sense of responsible leadership and public accountability. The service of a lawyer and a governance expert were hired to these town hall trainings.
FDID-SL team entered Koidu City on the 10th of April 2013 and met with deferent youth organizations to explain to them the reason for the town hall meeting and to extend invitation on the 12th of April about sixty-five (65) youths drawn different youths hangouts across the city of Koidu benefited from this training. The training which was very interactive lasted for few hours. A Freetown base lawyer took the youths through a training package which taught the youth how to behave responsibly with the ham bit of the law. His session lasted for two hour . Mr Khefala Amadu a renowned governance expert took over the training session which also lasted for two hours. At the end of the training the youths were pleased for having got such a wonderful training. In his remarks the District youth chairman thanked the facilitators for making the training so friendly and interactive.
In the same vain the FDID team travelled to Bo on the 28th April to organize the youths in City for the same training.
On the 30th of April, 2013, at the New London Hall in Bo City, the training attracted eighty-five (85) youths. These youths were drawn from five (5) city sections within the city. The Bo City youths were also taught to how be Law Abiding and how to engage the city council constructively. The training was very interactive. This will contribute to effort at post to reduce conflict through reduction of potentials for violence and a wider increase in participation in governance at more levels of society. These youths in election violence in prone cities in two of Sierra Leone’s elections hot sport were equipped with transferable skills in civil participation, governance, inclusion and increased tolerance for political diversity. The youths were thought skills to act as systems of cheques and balance for the activities of the local councils. Youths in those two (2) cities were shown leadership roles with a few of reducing the influence and manipulation of local politicians.
Key activities completed.
1. Four (4) community visitations to organized and invite the youths to these town hall trainings
2. Two (2) town hall meetings were held in both cities
Key challenges emerging actions and responsibilities
Getting the youths to attend to such formal meeting was a very big challenge in both cities
FDID-FL has reached over one hundred and fifty (150) youths with a prodemocracy and community cohesion training in Bo and Koidu Cities
FDID-SL will follow up the youths those two (2) cities
Imaging issues reviled that, the youths are little or not properly educated on their rolled and responsibilities to local councils. Also on the side of councils, their undertaking should made public or at list report their activities to youth groups so the list youths will be knowledgeable on developmental strive by the councils. FDID-SL therefore recommends that similar training should be replicated in other district and city councils for the cultivation of responsible leadership and public accountability.
STREET KIDS SCHOOL PROJECT IN BO AND BONTHE DISTRICT
FDID in collaboration with Bo city and Bonthe district councils have implemented a 6 months project to get back street kids of school going ages to school. This project was done in these two (2) communities because there are an alarming number of street kids who have left their family homes and also gone out of school. FDID early in 2013 under took three visits in Bo and Bonthe districts and met with stakeholders. FDID also met with school pupils and street kids and had an opportunity to exchange information. These pupils and street kids showed a strong interest in their education and what their communities stands to benefit should they realize their dreams. However, majority of the street kids express fair that poverty will serve as a storming block to realizing their dreams. The results of the three (3) visits gave FDID a strong signal with a project laying bases for the promotion of the street kids education project. A meeting with representatives of the Bo city council and Bonthe district council was another step forward to work this project.
The promotion for education of the street kids had reached out to the afore mentioned districts. FDID in collaboration with the two councils engaged business houses and well-meaning community elders who in turn provided funds for this implementation.
Twenty six (26) street kids in both districts were identify and brought back to be reunited with their families and subsequently were re-admitted in various primary and junior secondary schools in the township of Bo and Bonthe.
Sixteen children were brought to school in Bo and ten in Bonthe. Ten kids in Bo and Seven in Bonthe are still in school up to this moment. On the other hand, six kids in Bo and three kids in Bonthe went back to the street for lack of fund to support their schooling.
It is estimated that $250 is needed in order to keep a child in school for a year. FDID currently do not have the resources to keep more street kids in school.
More children may return to the streets due to funding constrains.
Both the parents and the communities including the local councils are willing to cooperate in getting back street kids and poor children to school.
You cannot seek the welfare of the kids without empowering their families to take care of them in school. You are likely not to succeed without empowering the parents to sustain the children in school.
On 12th June, 2013, FDID engaged community radios in Freetown and Bo on advocacy against using children as laborers. FDID also issued a press statement condemning the act and warning citizens to avoid such practices
DAY OF THE AFRICAN CHILD: BRINGING THE FOCUS ON STREET CHILDREN IN SIERRA LEONE
Street Children are any boy or girl who is yet to reach adulthood. Who seeks a livelihood or residence in the street. The demography is growing globally with an estimated one hundred and twenty million (120,000,000) or one in every five children turning to the street. A quarter of them which account for about forty-five million live in Africa and majority of them are boys and are mostly visible in urban settings across African Countries.
The Day of the African Child (DAC) is commemorated on June 16 every year by all African States. This is done to have a sober reflection on the on the 1976 massacre of South Africa Children by police in an uprising in Soweto South Africa. A Protect against Apartheid by school children resulted in the killing of thousands of those defenseless and unarmed protesters by police officers under the command of the Apartheid Regime then. After this massacre, people who are committed to the rights of the children saw the need to focus on the rights of children on the continent, in consolidating their efforts in addressing the obstacles for realizing these rights.
The African Child’s Day (DAC) also provides an occasion for Government, International- Institutions and child right organizations to renew their on-going commitments towards improving the plight of marginalized and particularly vulnerable children by organizing activities aimed at including these specific children.
The theme for this year’s 2013 commemoration is ‘’ Estimating Harmful Social and Cultural Practices Affecting Children: our Collective Responsibility’’. This is to draw the world’s attention to the need of eliminating Harmful Social and Cultural Practice affecting the African Child. The DAC 2013 will help create awareness on the importance of involving children in their own issues and promote togetherness among children from different African country or backgrounds. It is said that Millions of children will be reached out via electronic media, Special Publications, banners and other promotional materials throughout the continent.
But the question that comes to mind is how does the child fit into all of this? If not all but most of the street children on the continent will be marginalized by this project for the simple fact that most of them are either not educated or do not have access to electronic gadgets like radios. Over the years street children all over Africa especially in Sierra Leone have not been included in the commemoration of the Day of African Child. Is it that the street children are not African Children?
All children have the right to education, protection, health Care and participations in their communities. But this is not in the case of street involved children in Sierra Leone. The street Children in Sierra Leone are always left out of any good thing that is supposed to influence the lives of children in this country. If all our children feel safe in their communities and go to school; there will be no need for these children to seek refuge in the street.
Governments as the main actor should realized the rights of street involved children through their active participation and build their capacity to protect themselves. There should also be a national child protection and child welfare system that are sensitive to the right of street children to care and protection and should be adequately funded to operate effectively and efficiently. p
Furthermore, organizations working in rural areas on issues of childhood migration need to link with government and other agencies in urban settings to reduce the level of vulnerability that arise with mobility of street children.
Foundation for Democratic Initiatives and Development Sierra Leone (FDID-SL) a youth serving organization have met with so many gangs of street involved children across Sierra Leone who have registered their disappointment in successive governments for doing little or nothing to alleviate their plight.
They question they would ask always is ’’ are we not Sierra Leonean children?’’
On the 16th of June FDID-SL met and fed over 40 street children at the Red Pump Community in Freetown. The meeting was very interactive with the children telling their stories to the FDID team and thanking them for throwing light on their plight in the country. They pleaded with FDID to continue such a good work in advocating on their behalf as they cannot afford to engage and lobby government. The FDID team assured the children that as a grass root oriented organization, they will not stop at anything short of raising awareness of the plight of street children in this country the Communication and Advocacy Officer declared.
To climax the occasion, food and drinks were served to all the street children that were present to grace the occasion,
Members of the Red Pump Community also thanked the FDID team for quit a beautiful intervention to salvage the problem faced by street children in the country.
INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST DRUG AND ILLICIT TRAFFICKING
FDID on 26th June, 2013 joined other partners including United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to commemorate this year’s event in Sierra Leone. Statement of behalf of Civil Society was read by Habib T. Kamara, Programme Manager of FDID.
Some weeks ago SLAN and its members formed together in FMD (Folkrörelser mot Droger/Peoples Movements Against Drugs) organized a one week event in Visby, Gotland, Sweden. The week, called "Political Week", in Almedalen assembles thousands of organizations and companies around one speech every evening given by the political party leaders in Sweden - a tradition since late 60’s.
Our event was composed of different themes each day and we invited experts, political party members, MP’s, and gathered more than 2.200 individuals during the week.
The We Free Network is a San Patrignano prevention project which gathers many different international youth associations that work in this field.
Here it is the video that puts together all the photos that have arrived from all over the world to WeFree team on the 26th of June in occasion of 26th World Day against Drugs and Illicit trafficking. WeFree, the prevention project by San Patrignano, has mobilized all his international network , including Canada, Uganda, UK, Portugal, Italy, United States, Austria, Germany, Belgium and Colombia. This video wants also to thank everybody who joined at these initiatives, and to say loud and clear, NO to Drugs!