We met Lucky* on the street and it took us some time to convince him to trust us and believe the idea of giving up drugs. He often used marijuana, as well as sniffing aeroplane fuel as his main drug. This meant he was most of the time high and not clear in his thinking.
Finally, the time came when he accepted our support to help him to stop taking these drugs. He had needed enough time to study us and see we were serious people. He was recruited into the drug rehabilitation programme at S.A.L.V.E. International and was hopeful to change his future.
While staying at the drug rehabilitation centre, it took him time to stop thinking about drugs. He would often want to leave the centre and enter the community to search for any substances. However much we used to encourage him to tell us any challenges he was going through in his withdrawal, he continued dreaming of the drugs he had learnt to rely on and wishing he could access them still.
Not giving up
Can you imagine how hard it is to give up drugs when you see them as your lifeline?
We continued to counsel and teach Lucky about drugs and what harm they cause people at an individual and group level. During the centre rounds, where the staff team sits with each child at the centre individually looking at what has gone well so far and what can be improved during the next week, Lucky chose to open up. He told us how he felt about himself and it was at this time that we noticed a great change in his life and behaviour. He finally started believing in himself.
He slowly by slowly was able to find more positive ways to deal with life challenges rather than drugs. We were proud to see his progress.
After going through the process of rehabilitation, we integrated him back into his family and continued going for home follow ups, encouraging him to look towards his future while at home.
Change is a circle not a line
Unfortunately, on one occasion, Lucky had a relapse and went to access marijuana from the community youths. He took the drug and quickly fell asleep in someone’s shop as he was no longer used to it. When the shop owners arrived in the morning, they quickly called the police.
Lucky felt so sorry and guilty for what he had done. He promised the shop owner that he would never use these substances again.
At S.A.L.V.E., we understand that young people overcoming addictions are allowed to make mistakes, and we continue to support them afterwards to become more resilient and work towards a brighter future. Change is a process that takes time and does not always go in a straight line, the key thing is learning for the future.
Now, we are three months later and I am proud to tell you that Lucky has started his vocational training. He is very happy. He recently wrote his first sponsorship letter to appreciate the people who are standing with him through his training. He was concerned that he could not write well, but we told him to try his best. As for me, I was at the side observing, very happy and feeling good for him. I could hardly believe this was the same boy who I had met on the streets last year.
*We have changed Lucky’s name in line with our child protection policy.