Drug addiction silently steals life of street children

By Golam Rasul ---

DHAKA, March 18, 2017 (BSS)-A thin and shaky boy attired in a dirty old shirt along with his friend was taking ganja (marijuana) in Fairmgate area of the capital Dhaka on Thursday night.

A youth with long unkempt hair was looking at the boy aged between nine and 10 with a deep attention. The youth intercepted the boy and keenly observed him for a while. But the boy didn't pay any heed to him.

After a few minutes, the youth asked the boy what are you doing? You don't see what I am doing?, the boy replied. The youth smiled and started conversations with him. The drug-addict boy said his name is Rajan and his friend's name is Sony. Both of them are orphans.

Rajan lives on footpath at night. During the daytime, he and Sony collect valuables from garbage of city dustbins for livelihoods. They together pass whole day and earn some money which they deposit to their street guardian, who is a youth and also a drug addict. In exchange for the money, Rajan and Sony take ganja and dandy from him. And after taking 'ganja' with cigarette both of them fall sleep with the youth.

Asked why he is taking drug like Ganja, Rajon said, "I have no parents. My father died when I was only two years old. And after that my mother got married again to a rickshaw puller who refused to accept me. Then my mother handed over me to him (pointing finger at the youth). I have nothing to do. I collect valuables from dustbins and sell those and earn money. Uncle (the youth) give me food and ganja. I have no dream. I just want to eat and sleep."

At that time, Sony said they were not alone in the area, many children like them in Farmgate area are also taking ganga, chakki (sleeping pill) and dandy (made from shoe glue). "No, no there is more drugs sir. These are noctin (another kind of pill) and gul powder (powdered tobacco). All children of our area are taking these. But we take only ganja and dandy," added Rajan.

It is mentionable, sniffing dandy has turned out to be a favorite pastime for many of street children and some of them are addicted simultaneously to two or more drugs. Dandy is easier to get, affordable with whatever money they have and is not legally prohibited. A can of dandy sells at TK 80-90.

According to available statistics, in Bangladesh, about one million children live on streets, half of them are under the age of 10. And about 95 percent of them also take drugs.

Talking to this correspondent, Syeda Ananya Rahman, program manager of Work for Better Bangladesh (WBB) Trust, an anti-tobacco organization, said, "everyone should be concerned about this for the sake of our future generations. Street children have easy access to illegal and quasi-legal drugs. So, first we have to enforce the existing law to stop providing drugs to them. It is the high time to run anti-tobacco and anti-drug campaign among the street children. And the government should try to rehabilitate them as early as possible.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)