Championed by the Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Legal Aid Board in partnership with Henrietta Mbawah Foundation and Diamond Line Multimedia Entertainment have launched a national campaign on drug abuse and substance misuse at the Atlantic Hall, National Stadium in Freetown.
Speaking on the theme: “Misuse of Pampas; and other prohibited drugs must stop now,” the Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs, Hon. Lusine Kallon said drug misuse has eaten into the fabrics of Sierra Leone with a devastating effect on the lives of the youthful population.
According to him young people have a life they led before, “but our ability to shape our present and future situations is what matters most.”
He added that most youths engaged in drug misuse as a result of peer groups influence and uncontrollable pressures. He also maintained that the media should be a great contributor of harm prevention rather than propagating the negative impact of drugs intake among the youth.
He therefore warned that the media must stop the filming and interviewing of crime or drug perpetrators as it influences other youths to get involved in crime or drug related activities because they might also be looking forward to be filmed or interviewed as a hero. He went further to state that drug intake makes one to be rejected in society, and once rejected he resorts to all forms of crimes.
In a strong worded message, the Deputy Youth Minister said his Government declared war against lawlessness, corruption and indiscipline to make Sierra Leone great again for a sustainable peace and security. He said poverty is not responsible for one to become a drug addict and therefore calls on the youths to stand against “pampas liquid intake” and other substance abuse.
Hon. Lusine Kallon assured that they will continue this campaign until the desired goal is achieved.
The Executive Director of Legal Aid Board, Fatmata Claire Carlton Hanciles told the jam-packed hall that drug misuse in the urban areas is incomparable to that of the rural communities. As youth in the urban areas misuse drugs very often than the rural areas.
She assured that the Legal Aid Board will work with the Entertainment Industry; Social Leakages for Youth Activities; HIV/AIDS Secretariat; ONS and the media to prevent the influence of teenagers especially school going pupils. She emphasized the need to strengthen the campaign as a preventive approach rather than using the curative approach.
She also averred that there is a great unwillingness on the side of some youths to be employed, adding that some of them want to be idle by only asking for monies and other gestures.
Madam Hanciles admonished Chairmen of cliques and other ghettos present to accept reforms by ensuring that their communities are always safe and free from gang related violence.
She disclosed that her institution has over the years been able to free youth prisoners that were incarcerated without substantial evidence to find them guilty.
The Deputy Commissioner, National Youth Commission, Emmerson Kamara, said youth in Sierra Leone must shape their lives in the most positive way, but however emphasized that the choice is theirs to make.
He warned that parents and the community have a greater role to play in shaping the lives of their children in ensuring that they abstain from drug abuse and substance misuse.
He reiterated the Government’s commitment to ensuring that youth are engaged in something meaningful to better their lives and their communities.
He outlined that agricultural activities or skills trainings are also available to make them productive.
The Director, Social Leakages for Youth Activities, Habib Kamara, spoke about the hazards associated with drugs intake and appealed on campaigning on drugs prevention.
He stated with authority that those youths involved in “pampas intake” will die without any medical care to save their lives.
According to him, the misuse of ‘Pampas’ emanated from Indonesia and was brought to Sierra Leone by those Chinese who are engaged in mining and timber logging activities in Kabala. He said the involvement of Government shows that the issue is now a national concern.
The launching brought together over 500 cliques and ghetto youths across the country as well as traditional leaders in Freetown Urban and Rural.
The campaign will take over the country at least for one month. The launching was climaxed with the watching of a movie titled Crips Town.