Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Monday, 23 February 2009

A victim of sexual abuse shares the experience

I felt this comment deserved to be flagged as a separate article . Thank you for sending your story.

"these are not things that just happened recently...these things have been happening in, like, as long as 10 yrs ago, bt was never realized in the society. I knw this cux I hav had the unfortunate experience of this .

i am from a family hu is, lets say, from the middle class of the society. i know that my parents luv their kids alot. my father restricts us to go any where without a family member, let alone go to friends houses even - brothers cud go given that their friends are good kids - us girls cud only bring our friends to our place, v cannot go to theirs unless he gives his full approval, which is not a lot. we ver also nt allowed to interact with the opposite sex b4 v finish school. i now realize that they did that to only protect us from harm.but even then, i had a experience of that thing -molesting or sexual abuse or watver name u call it...only that i never knew that tym it was this.

No one knows about this, i never had the guts to tel ne1, i think thats why these boys also never came out with it, they mite not be having the 'guts' to tell. u c, i thought i did the right thing by nt teling then, i became adjusted to those memories for a while, but now, it has come to haunt me again. by not telling ne1, i had byn hiding a terrible secret , which i had always blamed on me.. i always think that it if werent for me, this wud never have happened.

Today I am seeing a psychologist because of the ‘after effects of this’. She is the first ever person I related it to. .. and this is the second *:D*.I guess I had always hidden from reality… but reading your post and the above comments, I wanted to share my story becuase i just want u guys to know that this 'plague' is not just for poor families, even the most richest and the protected ones cud face this too.

But now wat wud happen to them, I was fornunate to know wat I was going through, but wud it happen to them too??? My prayers are with those boys, even though they will have to live their whole lives by it, I hope that they learn to deal with it and that their parents are with them the whole way…."

I also would like to welcome others who may wish to publish their experiences in this blog to mail them to me. I beleive these case vignettes will provide deep insights and expose the evil that may be going on behind the closed doors in our society.
Make this blog yours to create awareness about such social problems by sharing these experiences. Thanks

Thursday, 19 February 2009

A Vulture Molests our Children: The Discovery of a Paedophilia Ring stab the Hearts of Maldivians

In the past few years we have seen the emergence of democracy in this nation and we have seen political parties battle for power , we have seen street demonstrations and voices, silenced for generations, speak up for their rights. Yet, amidst all this we failed to see this one man, who was sitting in the heart of Maldives, abusing the most vulnerable and helpless children of our nation.
Bang on, he knew what the kids wanted, how to approach them and also how to keep it a secret for years. He dared to take advantage of a society whose social fabric was decaying. This man was abusing children as young as 10, possibly for years by ‘enticing them with money, video-games and alcohol’ and no one had a clue until now. The investigation of another crime led to something even more sinister.

So many questions are on our minds at this juncture. Who are these kids? Where were their parents? Were they not in school? Why is it that these kids did not speak up all these years? Was there no one they could take into confidence and disclose?Perhaps many people would like to know these answers, because these are just some of the questions that are chuckling at our conscience right now. But my question is, “Are we really surprised that things have come to this?”

Just for a moment, let us imagine the condition of many homes in Male’. How safe are they from vultures such as this man? Have you ever wondered about the number of kids who do not have enough living space inside their homes, that after returning from school, they are forced to spend the rest of the day playing on the streets?
Further, this is a society so greatly divided between the rich and poor, the gaps between the two are subtle but apparent. Some kids have Nintendo DS, Wii and PS3 play stations etc; and there are others whose parents slog between 2 or 3 jobs just to afford shelter and food for their kids.

And these kids are out on the streets, alone while the parents struggle between jobs. Perhaps, for many parents it is not possible to buy them those little goodies and gifts children often crave to have. So, this man had the audacity to identify vulnerable kids and offer them money and satiate their curiosity while he sexually molested them and introduced them to alcohol paving way for a lifetime of further abuse.
No one probably expected that the recent seizure of the alcohol shipment in the country will lead to the discovery of this paedophile ring, which as reported may be connected to international child pornography groups too.

Often in our society when an abuse case is reported, people like to point fingers at the parents and find fault with their parenting.

I think we must not do so this time. Let us behave differently this time, because it is perhaps time for us to take collective responsibility for failing to protect the future generations of this nation.
This is the country which united under ‘Wathan edhey gothah’ , a political awakening and fought to bring a new dawn of democracy to this nation.
The same country is now crying out for a wider social awakening which must aim to root out those structures which are destroying this society.
Those who are attempting to climb off the ladder of poverty and reach affluence by the sale of drugs, alcohol, by abuse of our children, must be brought to face justice and pay the price for committing such crimes. We must have zero tolerance towards criminals of any form, those who are leading such organised crimes and those who are doing their dirty work in the forefront must be exposed and given the necessary punishment as stated by the law.

At the same time we must use this moment to reflect on the social issues that challenge the country.
For how long will parents and children co-habit in 12’ by 8’ rooms, have the streets as their living rooms, beg for little luxuries of life and compromise their virtues and morals to exist competently with the rich and the affluent?

Money has been spent on campaigns in Maldives to protect children and their rights. Perhaps it is also time for those involved in these programs to once again question why this happened and implement mechanisms that will help protect our children from vultures such as this 38 year old criminal.

We failed this time, with these children but let us hope this does not happen again. Let us hope we can help these children to heal the deep stabs inflicted by this despicable man. The crime he committed against these 35 (or more!!) children has created a deep wound in our conscience and we must find the time and heart to think and act such that no person will ever dare do something of this nature ever again in our country.

Brief but Unforgettable Interactions : The story of O

He sat on the water front with a fishing rod in hand. Eyes focused at the horizon, lost.
No one was near him.
I had observed him sitting at this same spot for 3 days and I have been on that island only for that many days. From morning to night, he just sat there; no one spoke to him or even went near him.
I asked some one about him and was told to leave him alone, that there was no need for me to interact with him. But, I am a curious person and I just had to know why he was such a reject of this society.
When I went close to him the first thing I noticed was the warts that were all over his body. I said a hello.
He greeted me with a smile which told me a thousand stories. This was a man in a great deal of pain, both physical and psychological.

I sat next to him. But he moved away almost in a reflex saying ,
“No, do not sit next to me, you may catch it….”
I asked, “Catch what?”
“I have a disease that bad people get”
I sat next to him and said,
“Such a disease does not exist and as far as I believe there are no bad people”

While looking at my direction he shifted the fishing rod. At that instance I noticed that he was in real pain, many of the warts were oozing and flies were sitting on the open wounds. He smiled again as he tried to chase away the flies.

“Everyone on this island knows that I am a bad person, a cursed person”

I just sat there looking at him, listening to him. I have already been able to figure out what disease he was probably suffering from and understood why he was saying what he was saying.

“I am just waiting for death now; you see I do not have the guts to kill myself. But the pain is so much that on some days I think I just cannot tolerate it any further”

I heard myself say,

“But you must be getting assistance from the government for your condition they must be supplying you with medication”
He fell silent again and looking away from me almost whispered,
“So you already know what disease I have, and you are still willing to speak to me’
He continued,
“Yes, I do receive medication but not enough, sometimes it does reach me regularly but I do not get enough medicines which can take away all the pain in my body, it is too much…now, since I am in the last stages….you know”
The man was breaking down.
I slowly touched him on the shoulder and this triggered the eruption of a volcano of emotions.
“Luckily, I had my own place on this island, but no one in my family lives with me but I have a sister who provides me with food which she leaves at my house every evening. But even they do not interact with me. If I catch a fish, I will take it home and that’s the only additional thing I can get to eat. Sometimes, I feel like smoking, so I collect the cigarette butts from the street and smoke them. This is my life”

I heard his story through sobs.

“As a teenager I went to Male’, and found a job in a nearby resort. I had many friends, I was earning well. I loved both boys and girls I had all sorts of fun, every thing you can imagine. Both with local girls and sometimes…you know…..”
I nodded again.
“I was with this woman from another country for a few years, we had fun, her friends and me, we all had fun…..and then after a few years I came to know that this lady had caught a disease and she warned me that I too may be infected. I tested and I tested positive for HIV. I thought I had my whole life ahead of me, that I will marry, have kids, have a life, but every thing got snatched away from me…the moment I held that piece of paper with positive scribbled over it. And now….I have full blown AIDS and I am dying…..I am dying……”.

I looked at him as he whispered pointing a finger at a group of youth who sat at a distance smoking.

“Can you see those guys over there? I see myself in them, all I wanted was to have fun, and have a good time and just enjoy life, just like them. I have told them my story, sometimes they feel sorry for me and even offer me some of the stuff they are using saying it will take away my pain, but I say No …now….but it is too late for me. And you know what the worst part is? This isolation from every one, that people move away from me when I walk close to them, it hurts…..”
“Those guys they have their entire lives in front of them, they don’t have a diagnosis like mine, when I see them blow it up in smoke I feel sad….everything is such a waste…but they must find out the reality of life by living through the hard times themselves…just as I do….”

The sun was going down now and I realized that I had sat next to him all evening listening.
I was touched by his story and this was also the first time I got to interact and speak with an HIV patient in the Maldives.
I asked him whether I could contact anyone and speak about getting more medication, may be a review…he shrugged me off saying,

“All the medicine in the world cannot make a difference to me now. If you want to do something for me, tell someone what happened to me….tell at least someone my story”

I nodded as I watched him walk away with his fishing rod.
He came without any bait and was walking away empty handed.
But between the sunrise and sunset of that day, he had lived a life time of pain and remorse.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Brief but Unforgettable Interactions: The Story of N

I was approached by this woman in Seenu Hithadhoo and all she said to me before escorting me to her home was, “Please speak to my son and do something for him, he is not speaking to anyone, neither eating anything nor is he sleeping properly. I think he is very sick but he refuses to go to the doctor too”.

He was sitting all by himself, dirty, sad and dejected. I soon realized that he was also going through withdrawals.
He had no interest in interacting with me.
The lady who brought me to meet Mr. N, slowly touched his hand and said,
“Son, speak to her, tell her what is going on with you, she may be able to help you.”
Since I did not get a response from him, even after 15 minutes, I asked the mother to leave us alone and said I will speak to him alone.
I asked him when he had his last doze. I said that I could understand how difficult it must be for him to go through cold turkey all alone like this.
Suddenly, he lifted his head and looked at me. There were tears in his eyes. I nodded.
At 19 years of age he was just one of the many heroin addicts of Addu.
The first thing he said to me was,
‘I want to stop using drugs, I am so fed up’
I said he could volunteer to join the rehab and go through rehabilitation.
A slow smile spread across his worn out face when I said this.
I heard him say, “Whats the use? Do you think it will help me? I know what I need. I need something else, ….which neither you nor anyone else can give me.”
With these words he turned his head away from me and fell silent again.

I asked him after several minutes, “What is it that you need?”
He spoke without looking at me. “You saw my mum, she is old , my dad is old and ill but I can’t do anything to help them, you know, I was their dream , they sent me to Male’ when I was just a kid, for higher education, but I was not a bright kid, I failed in grade 8. I had nothing else to do. So my dad brought me back and for a person like me who failed in studies, there are no jobs here, there is no way I could get a job. So I just waste my time with friends here. Life has no meaning and then I got into drugs, there is excitement in using drugs; I belong with my friends who take me as one of them. But….I have been arrested, I have already gone through rehabilitation once, but I came back to the same vacuum, nothing to do here…. so I started using again. When my mother sees me using drugs, she cries all the time, my father too. I do not know what to do. I am so fed up. I want to stop, that’s why I have not used it for some time ….but its so difficult…and deep down I know I can’t hold on like this…and I am afraid that I will use again.”
He was sobbing.

I felt awful.
He just pointed out so many failings in our society. He just pointed out how we could not offer him an alternative form of education, maybe like vocational training, how we could not offer him the opportunity for employment in his home town, how he could not cope with life after returning home as a so called failure. He pointed out how his rehabilitation failed because it lacked a proper community based program which could have prepared him for some form of employment or other support networks, assisting him to stay off drugs.

I listened to everything he had to say, but could I offer him any real solutions?
I told him to stay in touch with me, to let me know how he was doing and that once he was feeling better we would draw up a plan on how he could develop himself.
He did contact, he did draw up that plan, and still struggles with the stigma of this addiction and cravings. He is in better shape now, but….. I wonder about the plight of the many young Maldivians who are going through similar experiences even right now.

If there comes a time when Vocational Institutes can be set up so these youth can learn an alternative trade and if resorts and other industries can be developed, where these young people can be occupied in meaningful jobs, perhaps it may help them to live a drug free life.


Monday, 16 February 2009

Sunday, 15 February 2009


'Zimma' ; The story which introduced me to a profession and two important men

I wrote this novel, 'Zimma' in 1995, after I came across an article about the escalating incidence of drug abuse in the Maldives. The ideas in the novel were based on experiences I gathered from the drug abusing population in Bangalore, whom I met while I tried to make sense about the world of the addict.

The number of addicts I met would run to several hundreds prior to writing the novel. I spent hours attending NA and AA meetings as an observer to understand the life of addicts....and one day, I just found myself pouring my heart out onto ... pages .....which ultimately turned out to be this novel called 'Zimma'. In 1996 it won the National Award for fiction writing in Maldives.

Ever since I wrote that novel....many things happened to me which sort of shocks me and people often ask me whether this was my life story?? Well... after I wrote the novel I studied at the same place where the main character of this novel studied ( I never dreamt I could get admission at this institute at the time of writing the novel), I married a foreigner.......and well..that marriage was shattered and I lost a baby ....... and I too am lucky to have survived all that.

I never thought 'Zimma' would sort of be a parallel of my life story because it is fiction and whatever similarities one may see with my life happened many years after I wrote this novel.
So if anyone reads this and connects it with a period of my life ... I would say....well. it is pure coincidence.

However, this story has influenced my life in another very important way. I thought I was gathering information about substance abuse only for the purpose of writing a story. But now..I feel I have spent a great part of my life working in this area too. Was it my choice?
No. I would put the blame on two important men who directed me to this field.

I still remember the day I went with a friend's child to a SHE festival (late 1999) where I was introduced to the former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in the middle of a big hall. Five minutes after the introduction he was asking me about my academic background.and without wasting any time he made one request that decided what I had to do in the Maldives.
In the middle of that big hall, he brought two chairs, sat down and told me about the huge problem of addiction in the country and requested me to visit the drug rehabilitation centre and do whatever I could to help the people who were going through the drug rehabilitation program.

No matter what people may say, I have a deep respect for this man. He gave me a gold pen as an award for writing this novel. He is also indirectly responsible for exposing me to the reality of working in the feild of substance abuse management in the country.
I became a staff of NCB the next day.

Meanwhile... my life was going on. I was huge into pregancy when on a particular evening a young person walked into my home asking about a novel I wrote called 'Zimma'.
His heart and soul was on helping the nation's addicts, which was the theme of the story . He spent many evenings discussing and debating on this issue. Soon I realised that, here was another man who was looking for a way on how to address this problem, which is eating the very fabric of our society. His words were different but concerns were echoes of another man's too.
Where one failed, can the other succeed? One of them must.

After Mohamed Nasheed became the president of Maldives, in a communication we had he said to me, "I still have 'Zimma' with me".
I nodded. I know he has the zimma (responsibility) .

I have a zimma too.
And today I received a phone call from Maldives with some people requesting me for copies of 'Zimma' which are actually collecting dust in a locked room.
Perhaps that is why I remembered what Novelty Ali Hussain said when he sent the printed copies of this novel to me.
He said, 'You have a zimma to take this story to every Maldivian'

Perhaps there is something in this novel then ...perhaps its time for me to use my blog for this purpose?

So I have decided to post pages of this novel in this blog . I have not had the time to translate it to English...but anyway, happy reading to anyone who may wish to read it.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Brief but unforgettable interactions : Story of M

He walks in with an air of confidence. Looks at me and nods his head slightly acknowledging my presence, as he move on to do his job.
I sit quietly watching him. Absolutely amazed.

All I pay him is about Rf.150.00, and every month I pay that money happily.
Why ?
Because he was the person who offer a very important service for me. He was the person who threw my garbage for me every day.
The person we dismiss as the 'bangaalhu meeha' as if he is a lesser being attending to a lesser task. But in my eyes, he was a person worthy of a deep respect.

Again, what an earth for?

Because he never complained about how rotten the garbage smelt, how bulky and heavy the bag was, how mad he was that bits always lay around the bin but instead he was just interested in doing the task he was assigned . He was just interested in doing his job well, without complaints, making the others see from his actions that he definitely was the best man for the job and that he was capable of offering a service worth more than the money I was paying him.

This is what I see him do every day.

Meticulously he will remove the garbage bag, knot it , and wipe the bin clean with a cloth he kept for this purpose. Then he would sweep the spot around the bin taking care that everything was spotlessly clean before lining the bin again.

While he do this work, he is totally focussed, as if nothing else in the world mattered more to him but leaving behind a clean spot.
Once he finished , he will look at it with a certain amount of pride before he picks up the garbage bag and walk away with the same air of confidence with which he walked in.

Why is this interaction so unforgettable for me?

Because he taught me a very important lesson in life.

Work, what ever work you decide to do , it can be done with pride without boredom, with dignity and when done well, will be worthy of praise and appreciation.

No work is dirty , no man by the type of work they do is ever a a lesser human being and virtually anyone can give you a moral lesson you may appreciate for the rest of your life.

In my eyes, this person, was a very honest man, who paid attention to details, a man who loved and enjoyed his work, irrespective of the type of work he did, he knew how to do his job well, without complaints. I knew this quality would take him far in life....

How many of us can say so about ourselves?

How many of us go to office in the morning and waste our time, chatting, reading paper, playing games, gossiping etc???

How many of us make a dedicated effort to put in our maximum effort to the task at hand?
How many of us take our work as the most important thing, which deserves our 100% attention? How many of us perform the duties and demands required of our job with pride and dignity and enjoy it , without complaining or grumbling about it?

I am sure there will be many people who do more than they are asked to do too.

I often wonder about what will happen to our country if we all began to WORK with dedication and commitment, both in the private and public sector.

What wonders will occur if we got less bothered about just passing the hours at the office and stay focussed and become super stars in our work irrespective of the type of work we may have to do.
If our bosses would do their jobs well, and allow the junior staff to work without getting into power , personal or political struggles with them. ....! Ahem...some of us may say so? Ya....ya...

If the jobs are well defined and tasks are assigned as action points....with roles and responsibilities clearly defined......with incentives for honesty and hard work... ..YA....if only dho!

If the 'fannikolla'(sabotaging) , muvaziffun 'size ah kandaa ' culture can be brought to an end ....and everyone unite in our struggle to bring a better life for the people of our country.

So many IF's !!!!! Ahem!

Keep on dreaming??
Yeah. I will keep on dreaming.

Because there is something to learn from these little stories of determinations.

There are so many things that we need to change that its difficult to state where to begin.
Can we look at the labourers who do our dirty work with a little bit more respect?

Can we make eye contact with the person who meets you in the mirror everyday and say;' well , I did my job with total honesty , pride and gave it my best today?...and that I will continue to do so everyday?'

If we can achieve just this much and be able to say.....
"In my eyes I am a super star" it will not be long before you hear others echo the same about you!

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

A comment by Anonymous: The dream and determination of a mother for her son..here.. the sons speaks ...

Comment sent by Anonymous....Thankyou for sharing your story.

"My parents were divorced when I was 3 months old. My father left me on the road near my maternal grandparent's house and since that day neither myself nor my Mom receieved any assistance from him. I never spoke to my father until I was a teenager and I bellieve my Mom has never spoken to him since their separation.

This was 1986 and my mom was a young 22 year old lady with a 5th grade education (5th grade by 1980s standard). However, in order to support herself and her young son she had to find a job. She left to Male' to undertake a family healh worker's course.

Therefore, I grew up through the formulative years of my life without the love and affection of either of my parents. When my Mom came back home I was ready to go to school. The same year she came back home, one of her cousins returned to the Maldives with his PhD. When he came to visit us, my Mom told me that she wanted me to be like him. She told me she wanted Dr. in front of my name. That was her dream and she was prepared to do anything to realize her dream.

The next 7 seven years flew by and i was finishing up seventh grade. My mom wanted me to go to Male' to join Majeediyyaa school even though we had upto grade 10 in our island. She believed the quality of the schooling in the island was not good enough for her son to achieve her dream.But there was one small problem. Family health workers did not get paid much. I remember when her salary was MRF1130 (US$88) per month. There was no way she could have afforded to send me to Male' but she somehow found a way.

She supported me for 5 years of schooling in Male'; 3 in Majeediyyaa and 2 in CHSE. She paid MRF1000 every month to the house I was staying at and she gave me a monthly stipend of MRF500. Her monthly salary had risen to MRF1410 by then but that didnt leave her anything after spending on me. Later I found out that she went without buying anything for herself. She practically wore the same clothes she already had during that 5 years. That is the determination of a mother to keep her dream alive.

Right now I am an undergraduate environmental engineering student in the United States. I am very happy for my mom that I am on my way to make her dream come true. You dont have to be born to an elite family or be a son of a resort owner or a family member of people in power to have a dream. And it takes only determination to realize your dream".
04 February 2009 15:41

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Extracts from a train conversation; Whats the dream of an average Maldivian?

I thought the journey back to Manchester would be a boring one.
But soon I realised that it may not be so , as I realised that the person who was sitting next to me was an expert in human behaviour. Someone with whom I had the opportunity to interact just once or twice before.

As the train began to move, he asked me about Maldives. Ofcourse it is one of the most beautiful tourist destinations specially for those in Europe who are going through such cold winters, as is now.

I listened to him as he spoke of how beautiful my country was. Ofcourse, Maldives is a beautiful country... and mighty proud I am of it too.

It was then that he turned around to me and said that I was the first Maldivian he has met so far. But he knew of the changes which had taken place in the recent political climate of the country, he also knew about our presidents desire to buy another homeland for Maldivians if and when we go down under due to impending environmental disaster. He also had a particular interest on another topic. The issue of heroin addicts in our country.

Perhaps he had a deep desire to understand the psychosocial vulnerabilites of our people, or perhaps he wanted to know how we managed to mess up so bad . A few questions he asked me still lingers on my mind.

' Tell me, I understand all the reason why young people must not abuse drugs...it is common to everyone so it will stand true for Maldivians too, we all know, how it leads to addiction, how it ruins ones health, family ...everything like that, but let us take one Maldivian youth and tell me why he must stop abusing drugs?"

I was listening. Did I have the answer?

' Well...tell me about the average Maldivian youth.
For example lets take a bell shaped curve, you and I know that on either side of the bell shaped curve you have a few individuals who may be different, while one side may represent the people with special needs, on the other there may be people like you or those born to the elite families, resort owners, family members of people in power etc blessed by family support etc who may have had the opportunity to pursue your dreams , get higher education, make your dreams come true, but what I want to know is about the bulk of the society as represented by the larger portion of the bell shaped curve, you know what I mean? The common man, the average Maldivian?, tell me about his dreams!
Tell me about his aspirations? Tell me about why he should choose a better life? Tell me how he can choose a better life"
Perhaps I looked a bit shocked to be thrown such statements so unexpectedly on my face, I nodded but still sat quietly.

' What about his education? After school what happens to him? Can he go to college? Can he pursue his education to university level , earn a dignified life?...or...if he choose to work, can he get a job of his choice which can stimulate his mind? Will he have the scope for career development if he choose to work hard and honestly? Will he earn enough to start a family?Can he save enough money lets say while he is still in early twenties, to invest on a home...get married...live independently....with pride and dignity?'

Ah!!!!!!!!!!! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. I wanted him to stop. I wanted to tell him the whole circumstance and situation was different....very different. He was talking about UK.
How could I tell him , we do not have a university, we do get jobs but ...but... but....enough to start a family? Ha ha....he does not know...we just need enough to buy a bike.first..on installments then may be ...build a room no ...no....not even that..where is the land....so.. may be rent a room.....what is he talking about..savings....ha ha!!
But he continued.
'You see it is essential for young people to have a dream. It is essential for young people to pursue a meaning in life. It is essential for young people to be motivated to want to live a life of dignity, self respect. You see these avenues have to be provided by the society for the young people. It is the responsibility of the society to open such opportunity and avenues for young people and guide them on that path...so that they know they have something much better to go to, live for...'
I was nodding my head again. ' yes. yes...I wanted to say....but he did not know...many people in our country thought that young poeple only needed hafthaa nimmun hafla, ..just recreational and sports club to live happily. Who spoke about giving them a dream??? Who did??eh??"

Then he asked me ...'who gave you your dream, who helped you to pursue your dream? the fact that you are here shows me there are remarkable people in your society too....but...may be they are limited...may be for some reason those in the prisons...rehabs ...could not be reached by such people...before it became too late for them?'
He asked me again..'who gave you your dream?'
' I said, my dad....he introduced me to the word, psychology when I was just a teenager, he also introduced me to someone called Dr. Waheed (our current vice president) , who at that time told me and my family members what was a phd, and that O'L and A'L was just the first two steps on the ladder of education, further my family has stood by me and held my hand...every time i stumbled....or failed guiding me to live a better a life......'

He asked me then..'And that better life is???'

I answered,' persevering at the face of adversity, facing my failures and turning them to success, keeping my faith in Allah strong and steadfast, holding on to my family and dreaming of a better life for myself and for the people I love and to be able to contribute .....to make the lives of the people I love better....and never letting go of my aspirations....my dreams....'

He smiled and told me, ' take that message back home....share your life...and ask the people who made their dreams come true to share their lives to motivate others...specially the young to want to dream again, give them a dream, and help build a society where the young person has the opportunity to make their dreams come true through honest and hard work'
The journey was over, we were already in Piccadilly train station....he patted on my back as he moved on, with a wink.

Monday, 2 February 2009

And hunger strikes at gaamaadhu! The prisoners know who rule the roost!

The news about Gaamadhu hunger strike has faded in comparison to the news making information about prisoners being offered mineral water 'life' for all purposes in the prison.

The public outcry at the end of the article (http://www.haveeru.com.mv/?page=details&id=79082 ), has made my heart feel immense pain and empathy to those who have stated so.

The common man , that is me and you in the general public, struggle to buy a bottle of mineral water, we bathe in salt water and take that half bucket of fresh water to clean off the salt stuck on our body. This is the reality of an average Maldivians life.

Till today , perhaps many people were unaware that prisoners or even those under rehabilitation are ( if not always...mostly) provided mineral water in this manner and that this has been ongoing for some years........and reading this bit of information has made something snap in our minds...in our hearts...

Yeah...I feel it too. What I can say is the food I have eaten for the past many years or is eaten by an average Maldivian will be less in quality and in nutrition than what is probably offered in these places for those undergoing rehabilitation or serving a prison sentence(perhaps???).

That is where a lot of money is spent...a good breakfast, sai after that , lunch with one or two curries, some satani, may be a dessert, tea with hedhika in the evening and dinner again. How many of us can get free meals like this???
And yet, the prisoners are rejecting the same food and going on hunger strike!!! Why?

Perhaps they want something better than food now, perhaps the hope is they can come back to Male' under the garb of meeting the family members and then get access to something better than good food and mineral water, OR perhaps they are actually voicing a truth about the poor quality of water and food they are really offered?? (read this link to understand the story of the inmates, http://minivannews.com/news_detail.php?id=5942 )Perhaps we will know the details once the human rights organisation and other such agencies make their statement?

But what ever may be the case, I have often wondered whether these prisoners may have secondary gains in going to the prison (specially the reoffenders).
They don't have to work, many times, they are with some friends atleast...and if it is a rehab, there may have access to leisure activities too, games, sports, gyms, meals on time, some classes or meetings as fun time......some thing here ...something there, a bit of counselling here...where you fake it to gain, and pass through the programme .....as any way 'pieces' are also available any way!!!! So when life can be better here....why not ....spend some more time ...'in' any way!!!
I dare not even think this!!! Can it be that in the absence of a meaningful life , a purposeful future our youth have adopted our prisons and rehab centres as their recreational clubs???
Whats gone wrong??????????????????????????

I refuse to beleive this. I refuse to beleive that we will allow the prisoners to rule the roost any further.

There are so many capable Maldivians whose collective thought and action is required to assist any one who is attempting to bring a better quality of life for the common man....the time to act is perhaps now!
And while doing so we have to realise .....what the average Maldivians outcry is.
Listen to the pain ....of the person who says; '
I struggle between jobs...to buy two decent meals for my undernourished children...., my electricity bills are not paid....I bathe in salt water everyday...I cannot dream of buying mineral water even for my baby....or elderly mother who has kidney stones.
AND ON THE OTHER SIDE, take into account what the prisoners are saying, that the water they are offered is salty, the quality of food is poor, the place is a rehab ...only in name....while the authoritities claim that the prisoners are offered free mineral water!!!
Who knows the truth?? Will the public get to know the details? Are these prison strikes going to happen on a daily basis?

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Maafushi prison riots again! Who rules the roost?

This article in haveeru ( link..http://www.haveeru.com.mv/?page=details&id=79042) definitely throws light to our deterioting prison situation.
Many things stuck me as I read the article. First of all that there were over 235 prisoners in Unit 2, reflecting a case of probable overcrowding.

They all seem very organised, focussed and united in this riot. They also have a leadership in their 'Daadas'. The security personnel seems obviously unable to manage the situation and seem to be just observing as the prisoners continue to damage the prison property, and injure the staff. Worst, I cannot see any other newspaper report so far on this prison situation which apparently is ongoing from last night? Why is it not being brought to the attention of the public and why is the media avoiding reporting on this situation? Why has action not been taken to control the riots so far?

We all know that in the Maldives, majority of prisoners are drug addicts who have not had the opportunity for rehabilitation and many of us have heard stories that drugs are easily available at the prisons .

This particular report through the security staff who wishes to remain anonymous, has publicised the modus operandi of how drugs are brought in to the prison, educating and making the public aware on how the prisoners get access to drugs. I can very well believe this story.

What many of us often do not realise is that prisoners who are hooked on heroin or such highly addictive drugs will go to great lengths to make sure they get their drugs. Just see this case. ...I have often been amazed by the extent to which this sort of criminal behaviour is organised. I say this based on my experience of working at Drug rehabilitation centres, both in Maldives and in some neighbouring countries.

The fact that prison is located in an inhabited island, has led to the involvement of the island community, which will either house drug pushers who would bring the drugs to the island to supply to the prison community or visitors will birng the occassional shipments and deliver it through people who are connected to the prisoners.

Addicts have swollowed heroin, packed in condoms and would later collect the same after passing their faeces. Heroin packets have been brought inside rehab centres hidden in the base of iced cakes sent to addicts on their birthdays. Packets hidden in the bottom of the sea has been collected by addicts when they go for their regular swims. Shops had to be started inside rehab centres to avoid the inmates from receiving heroin packets hidden inside toothpaste tubes, shampoo bottles etc; sent by family members.

So addicts are always developing innovative ways to traffic drugs to their drug using communities.

Look at this situtation in Maafishi prison now. They make a call to the pusher in Male', who makes a call to the bigger dealer,....who connect with the trafficker....based on the size of the shipment they decide how to deliver. By making a single call , the prisoner or daada can connect with his gangs in Male' who would handle everything, even the money transactions can be completed and like in this case, it will be delivered by launch and dumped either at sea or brought into land by the pusher..who ( as I am expanding on the situation so far given.....this is hypothetical) with the help of locals will draw up a map on the delivery time and place and throw details inside the prison or either pass this information via phone or staff.

We have to admit that while all staff are not dishonest, as a number of people enter and leave a prison every day, there may be people who will compromise their morals in the face of money. Unfortunately, in this situation the delivery failed to reach the prisoners, angered and frustrated the prisoners, triggering them to riot.

It is actually amazing that this report stated that the prisoners actually had requested the staff to bring their drugs into the prison??? Does it mean that this had happened in the past and the staff had obeyed them?????? We don't know these details yet.

There are so many questions we can ask. How do the prisoners get access to phones. Well....anyone who has been to the prison can answer that question. I knew of a guy who use to hide his small mobile phone inside his anus...ya...and would remove it to give a call? Pipe in a wire through the anus.... to show blood in the faeces to get out and go out to hospital where he will meet the pushers and collect the drugs.

Cannot believe it? Another guy will swallow the lighter and come back....pass it in faeces and collect it later to chase the dragon. For some of us this may be news....but for those who know what I am talking about they will have bigger tales to tell.

The fact is, the prisoners, seem to be more organised and capable than the security and the management appears to be rather helpless at the moment and the prisoners know who rule the roost.

Lets see how this situation is handled. This is a moment to test the intergrity of a number of people and also trust the capability of staff who have been trained to handle such situations. It is a time for action, reform and patience.