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Kachin State communities come together to address drug epidemic

December 7, 2019

I started using drugs when I was 9th standard student. I started trying to test it at first. But later I had suffered the addiction disease. Kachin is unique and it has a ranging HIV epidemic, a ranging hepatitis C epidemic and huge drug use epidemic. Primarily of injecting heroin use in rural area. In rural area that’s conflict affected there is fighting going on between different factions and they have been going on fighting for years. Bawn Hkaw arrived here to attend third rehabilitation camp. He arrived here with a small backpack along with his family sending here. Since heroin has become accessible easily, there are women also started using it. Since then, there are divorced cases happening a lot. Children are not getting love and warm from family anymore. There are women dying because of it now. I don’t want to mention other ethnics, but it is happening among Kachin women. If you inform to a police officer in PutaO police station about a heroin selling place and shooting gallery which is only 20 miles away from station. They said that place is not secure. They said they can’t go there because it is not safe even though there is a military base. On the other hand, they don’t give me authority to do anything about it. Even if I wanted to arrest them, I can’t do it without police. That’s why we are seeing the rate of drug users are getting high. This is a three-day workshop where we convened leaders from government,
civil societies, faith-based organizations, drug users and their families, religious groups and others to come together to talk about drug use in Kachin, Northern Myanmar. The workshop is designed to focus on the local leadership and we let them to discuss on their past experiences and current experiences. Based on that analysis, they have to comes out common solutions for the problem. So the future design will be based on the discussions from the local
peoples themselves. The complexity also arises that it’s not just a health issue of people injecting. Why are the drugs coming here? How are they coming here? What are the interests involved with this? And when you start digging through all that you see these complex systems of distribution, of sales, the economics, the politics and as you expose it a bit more you see how hard it is to work with that. And I think this is what we’re talking about here in this workshop. There are great responses from the participants. For some of the participants, this may be the very first experience for them, but this is a good chance for them to know other people who are working on the same issue. So they get to connect with each other and they can work together to fight against drug issues in Kachin State. I like this workshop because in this workshop we try to find the solution by analyzing past experiences and root causes. In this workshop, there are different religious groups, experts and government representatives. So that we can learn a lot of things. we were like small frogs from the little pond before and thought that we know a lot. But we just learnt that we still have things to do in our activities. When we look at our society, we can see that men can go to rehabilitation camps but there is no such thing as camp for women. After this workshop, we, Kachin Women Union will form a drug rehabilitation center dedicated for women. We also hope that we can create job opportunities for those women as well. My goal for attending this workshop is that there are things we can’t do individually, We don’t know high-ranked authority, it doesn’t work out really well when we cooperate only with low level authority So by meeting this kind of networks, we can solve drug epidemic in PutaO. There was no such thing as drug issue before but now the transportation is getting better. we need to figure out why heroin is easily accessible in our region suddenly. We need to figure out why heroin is plenty in our region suddenly. To solve these issues, we need to connect with these organizations That’s why I attended this workshop. I believe that we can eliminate drug epidemics with these helps and financial supports. We can also shout out a message to Kachin people that everyone should involve to end drug epidemics. The U.S. government and USAID’s support for the elimination of drugs will bring a huge impact to us. All people, Kachin communities should participate in this process. I believe we can give that message to the communities.

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