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.


paperclippenny said...


Drugs dont work said...

I guess the boy is just lazy, In Addu i have seen young boys of 14 or 16 waitressing in restaurants.

I hope he stays clean and do some job... there r plenty of jobs available. But for a boy who droped out from grade 8 he has to start from the bottom, more like labor job.

If someone has the will to success then there then he can see plenty of opportunities. If life shuts one door it open a window; if only people see those opportunities.

Also Addu does have a VTC branch...although its not unto standard... you could learn the baics of a trade and build a platform to further develop.

Drugs dont work. said...

btw nice blog.

keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

How damn sad is this. the drug equation is still unsolvable here in the Maldives.

Drugs dont work said...

Some reasons for the failure in dealing with the drug problem.
Lack of proper prisons/prison system to incarcerate the drug dealers.
Lack of higher studies opportunities.
Lack of belief in religion or lesser religious knowledge.
Overcrowded capital, where the family structure has broken down/dysfunctional families.
No father around to guide their children, most of them are working in resorts for much of the child’s life.
Lack of modern investigative skills and technology by police and customs officers.
Lack of proper laws to serve justice to drug dealers.

Anonymous said...

drug use can't be stopped, because there is too much money in it.
But it can be reduced and the solution is social change, not obstruction of drug dealing operations as the previous government convinced themselves is the remedy.