by Golam Rosul
DHAKA, March 24, 2017 (BSS/Unicef feature) – A thin boy wearing dirty old shirt along with his friend was taking ganja (marijuana) in Farmgate area in the capital on Thursday night. A youth with long unkempt hair was looking him with a great attention.
“I just stopped at him and observed for a while. But the boy didn’t pay heed to me. After few minutes, I asked the boy what are you doing? You don’t see what I am doing?, he replied angrily. I smiled and started conversation with him.”
The boy aged 9-10 years informed that his name is Rajan and his friend’s name is Sony of the same age. Both of them are orphans. Rajan lives on footpaths at night and in the daytime, he and Sony collect valuables from dustbins.
They together pass whole day and earn some money which they deposit to their street guardian, who is a youth and a drug addict. Instead of money, Rajan and Sony take ganja and dandy, a substance made from shoe glue, from the youth. 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 two-year old. And after that my mother got married again to a rickshaw-puller who refused to accept me. Then my mother left me to him (pointing finger to the youth).”
He continued: “I have nothing to do. I collect valuables from dustbin 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 not only they are taking drugs, many children like them in Farmgate area are also taking ganja, chakki (sleeping pill) and dandy.
“There is more drug 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, some 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 is sold at Tk 80-90.
According to data, in Bangladesh, about a million children live on
streets, half of them are under the age of ten. And about 95 percent of them take drugs.
Syeda Ananya Rahman, the program manager of Work for Better Bangladesh (WBB) Trust, an anti-tobacco organization, said everyone should be concerned about this for the sake of the future generations of the country.
“Street children have easy access to illegal and quasi-legal drugs. So, first we have to enforce the existing law to stop supplying drugs to them. It is high time to spearhead anti-tobacco and drug campaign among the street children. And the government should try to rehabilitate them as early as possible.”