By Olando Testimony Zeongar
MONROVIA – Nobel Laureate Leymah Roberta Gbowee, has predicted more deaths among young people in Liberia if nothing is urgently done to curtail the rise in the illicit use of drugs in the country.
Gbowee, one of three women, who in 2011, jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work”, on Tuesday, averred that during the last few months, many young people have died from a deadly substance, “KUSH,” noting that many more will die if nothing is urgently done.
“I have personally experienced the death of one of my heart’s sons from an addiction-related illness. It is a personal pain for me to see these young people cover their numerous mental health pain with substance abuse,” said Gbowee, a peace activist, social worker, and rights advocate, who wants the issue of illicit use of drugs in Liberia to be treated as a national emergency.
“There is not a single town or village in Liberia where a ghetto cannot be found,” Gbowee intoned, lamenting that sadly, like many of Liberia’s problems, the country’s drug problem is being ignored and fueled by a lack of programs and political will.
She pointed out that there is not a single household in Liberia that can say it does not have a son, daughter, cousin, friend, or know of someone whose child is an addict.
Like the country’s decade-plus years of internecine war, Gbowee observed that the issue of substance abuse in Liberia is one that is affecting all, adding, all Liberians must work together to rescue those hooked on drugs, who she referred to as “Lost Children.”
She opined that the recent acquittal of those accused of bringing into the country over 100 million dollars worth of cocaine is the beginning of a new wave of drugs sale and youth addiction.
Over the years, according to Gbowee, the rates of drug use among young people in the country have been alarmingly tragic, indicating that many of those who are hooked on substance abuse narrate stories of getting into such habit from their schools.
“According to them, meals sold on many campuses are laced with various drugs. I am told that some dealers allegedly give out free substances on Sundays to increase the demand,” Gbowee quoted some of the substance abusers as saying.
“I have come not to see these young people as “zogos,” as they are called locally, but as “Liberia’s Lost Children,” Gbowee indicated, adding that in recent conversations with some of those illicitly using drugs, they mentioned the trending drug, “KUSH,” which they call “Spark and Die” because of the risk of cardiac arrest when one consumes it.