Local drug prevention and rehabilitation NGO Society for Woman Against Drugs (SWAD) has today initiated a programme to provide vocational training for recovering female addicts in the Maldives.
This programme – conducted in collaboration with the German embassy to Sri Lanka and the Maldives – was launched today at the SWAD vocational training center by chief guests Ambassador Dr Juergen Morhard and Home Minister Umar Naseer.
Speaking at the ceremony, Umar Naseer thanked Dr Morhard for the generous contribution which has allowed the NGO to buy the necessary materials as well as noting his appreciation for SWAD’s extraordinary contribution to the fight against drugs.
“I am sure that every country is struggling in this fight against drugs and so is Maldives, but I am very hopeful that we will see progress in this fight with initiatives such as this vocational training by SWAD,” said Naseer.
In his speech, Dr Morhard stated that drug abuse and trade is the harsh reality of the current world from downtown Berlin to the beautiful beaches of the Maldives, and thanked SWAD for stepping up against drugs in the Maldives.
Speaking to Minivan News after the ceremony, SWAD Chairperson Fathimath Afiya said the aim of the training center is to provide skill building opportunities for recovering addicts in order to make the transition back into society easier.
“Participants will be taught a wide variety of skills such as sewing and carpet weaving which could be marketed towards tourists which would enable the participants to earn an income in a society where there is a lot of stigma towards former drug addicts preventing them from obtaining work,” said Afiya.
The NGO plans to make the project self-sustainable using the income generated by the sales of the goods and has aspirations to have the whole programme run by recovering addicts in the future.
A national drug use survey published in 2012 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported that 48 percent of drug users in the Maldives feel they are neglected and perceived as outcasts by the local community.
The stigmatisation of drug addicts leads to the creation of a cycle of addiction with recovering addicts relapsing back into drug abuse as an escape from perceived ‘disgrace’ they have brought upon themselves and their families.
Work done by NGOs such as SWAD and Journey – a support NGO for recovering addicts – seeks to break the the addiction cycle with recovering addicts having opportunities to successfully reintegrate into the society as useful and contributing citizens.
The UNODC survey reported that there were 7,496 drug users in the Maldives between the age of 15 and 64 in the Maldives and that 48% of drug users in the capital Malé were between the ages of 15 and 19 years.