“I am here against anything that is affecting my country, because I want it to develop like the other countries, so I appeal to the government to take the step of stopping these traders from selling these alcohol and other drugs to children.”
As young as she is, already in Primary seven (P 7), Maria Agok a 13 years old pupil at Nation basic primary school tells us how she feels about her fellow children in streets, who are exposed to Alcohol and drugs with no or little action from the government and stake holders responsible.
“When we came with my brother from Wau to juba, he was a humble boy, one day he said he wanted to move and know juba, my step brother who was older than us and was in a certain group decided to engage my brother in the group he was in, slowly by slowly early in the morning you wouldn’t get him sleeping, he started sleeping out of the house, in parties, doing these drugs like alcohol, he would come and sleep from morning to 7 pm in the evening, I was confused and decided to tell my elder sister who tried talking to him, he refused to listen,”
“I really don’t know what’s teaching them out there, but if I was having a way to stop this, 1, we should stop bringing drugs, and sale to children, the government should move shop to shop, if they find them selling alcohol to children, they should be arrested,”
“I heard people don’t know how these drugs come to juba, but a certain man showed me a place next to our house were they sell these drugs, and he advised me, that if I wanted to help my brother I should report to the police, but when I told my father, he advised me to stay away from such issues, I told my father, my brother and some other innocent children are dying”,
“The most person who is affected between a father and a mother is the mother a lot, because you hold a child for all those years, expecting him to be in school, learn and to have a good future like others but now they are going the wrong way, we should not allow our children to move outside freely, let’s keep them in just the way we keep the girls, we should keep boys also.”
“When you pass Abyei Chok (Suk Abyei in thongping residential area) you see some children sleeping under cars, I don’t know if they have mothers or they have run away from home, but my anty had two sons, the elder some was planning to get married, and my anty refused saying that he was too young to marry and besides he doesn’t have a good job, the other sons was a drug addict taking everything and currently has TB (tuberculosis) so when my anty passed away she had told my mother to take care of her children, in that time they lived with some other anty of mine who doesn’t take good care of them, so those two boys I used to get them taking alcohol and sleeping under cars, when I asked them what they are doing there, they would say, they are just chilling with friends and will be going home later, yet they were already chased from home, and when I told my mother were they are, she went trying to bring them back home, but they ran away, and now I get them every day taking alcohol, I even saw a 12 years old child with them taking alcohol, so now it is hard for a child to leave it.”
For those single mothers or fathers who are facing financial challenges and allow their children to go look for jobs should stop, the mother should be the one to go looking for a job, not the child if it was me, because when you allow them slowly by slowly they will get exposed and learn doing drugs maybe through friends and peers.
For the children who are already exposed and are used to these drugs, the government should arrest and detain them for a period of time, it is a little bit tricky because some of these children are already big and old enough to resist the police, maybe sometimes even fighting the police because they are a group, they now know how to run with boda bodas and hide, but if they get arrested for some good months, they will be punished regularly to discipline them against alcohol and drugs, after then they be taken back to their parents when they are already mature enough, so as they can be taken back to school and they become good people.
I come here at the radio station to talk about child labor, forced child marriage, and I don’t see the government doing anything about it, I don’t know if they don’t get us or they don’t have the ability to do it, yet they can do as people in the government, they have the right to do it, for us we are still young, but I promise myself when I grow, I will do as much as I can to develop my country to be like the other countries, others will be like juba is fake, they want to go to Uganda, Kenya etc.. Because they think juba is not good and don’t have good schools yet it has, but the problem is some teachers also smoke and if a student finds a teacher smoking, he will also take the same example and start smoking.
In our school we don’t have children who can smoke and do drugs, but my advice goes to those who are out of school and doing drugs,
It is not a good practice, because you be taking them every day and your mum cries for you to stop and when you want to stop, it will be very hard for you because your body is addicted to it, if you try to stop for a month you may have mental problems, and this is what I heard from my teacher.
And for those who smoke, it may give you problems in your chest, you may end up coughing blood, so please my brothers and sisters you have to stop, most especially the boys.
Some children, youth and even adults get involved in drug abuse and illicit trafficking due to circumstances like poverty, family problems, deterioration of morality and poor behavior adaptation, leading to Drug abuse a serious issue that is abolishing the dreams of our future generation. With the new digital age, women, children and the youth are most vulnerable because of the influence of mass media and television most especially in the context of south Sudan, and therefore, decreasing productivity and challenge the community’s sense of security, love and peace, leave alone the negative health consequences experienced such as high blood pressure, depression, HIV, TB and mental illness putting a heavy financial burden on individuals, families and society.
Drug abuse is a serious issue that is obliterating the dreams of our future generation and with the high rate of depression and anxiety that are common among young people, women, children and the youth are most vulnerable, a reason why Rise initiative for women advocacy (RiWA) and other stake holders remains committed to improving mental health and emotional well-being of those affected by challenges they face, through a psychosocial and economic empowerment support programs to prevent the them from taking other options such as drug abuse as a mean of dealing with the issues they face.
The impact of drug abuse on Education.
Intellectual impairment is one of the biggest threats among youth that become addicted to drugs which leads to short-term memory loss and even impaired sensory function, all of these problems in combination with the addiction itself will contribute to poor academic performance and low self-esteem and of this low self-image may lead to depression or an even greater dependence on drugs, a vicious cycle for our youth.