Roaming the streets of Karachi in Pakistan on a chilly winter night in the part of town locals avoid, you will find kids huddled together getting high on glue. According to a foundation by the name of Azad Foundation, there are over 30,000 kids in Pakistan who are addicted to sniffing glue in order to get high.
Old Ritual, Easy Fixes
This ritual is not a new one for the street boys of Karachi. Inhaling fumes from rags that are soaked with glue or plastic bags filled with glue is something that these boys do religiously. While street drugs anywhere else in the world cost more than what a beggar boy can afford, a local leather binding glue called “Samad Bond” that can only be bought for 50 U.S cents provides an easy fix. Since this solution has glue mixed with petrol, it can easily be used by these young boys to get high.
Hunger and Drugs in Pakistan
The conditions young boys and girls go through on the streets of Pakistan are horrendous. They claim that half the time, they don’t even make enough in a day to afford one meal. So what, I ask, do you think they do to fall asleep? They sniff glue.
In a city where it takes at least 1 USD to afford a meal for two, it costs only 50 U.S cents to buy glue enough for all of the siblings out on the streets begging to get high. Upon interviewing many street boys, this was the reason that could be found for excessive drug use: excessive hunger.
“The fumes burn the eyes and leave the body dry. It kills your appetite. But after being kicked and treated like a dog it gives you peace.” – Mohammed Naeem, Street Boy from Karachi
Glue: Spreading Like a Plague
Though an easy street drug, Samad Bond has more long-term side effects than most drugs out there. The Medical Association of Pakistan claims that the substance abuse on the streets of Pakistan has reached alarming heights. This is putting the youth of Pakistan in danger.
If more is not done soon, Pakistan is heading for a street children hooked on glue crisis on the scale of other countries like Morocco and Brazil.” – Qaiser Sajjad, General Secretary of Pakistan’s Medical Association
With no current solution to this problem, more and more street kids are succumbing to this drug habit as so many families in Pakistan are losing their abilities to make both ends meet. This is what happens when they lose all hope and send their children out to beg, some become addicts, others are sold into prostitution.
Fixing the Problem, Not the Consequence
I believe that this isn’t a problem that can be solved just by eradicating anything that can be used as a drug out on the street. The drugs are just a consequence of a far graver problem that we actually need to focus all of our energy on, it is severe urban poverty. Due to the lack of job opportunities, many families are left to fend for themselves out on the streets since only the father in a family earns in most cases in Pakistan. If that father, for some reason, is fired or physically unable to hold on to a job, the kids and the wives suffer gravely.
Education and Jobs
This is a nation where education is a luxury and not a right given to all. Education is not free and most kids on the streets beg and become primary bread-winners for their families thus rendering themselves unable to find time to learn and one day hold a steady job. It is a vicious cycle.
This addiction can be more dangerous than alcohol or tobacco to the systems of these young boys as it can cause long term damage to their hearts, kidneys, livers, nervous systems as well as body movements.
We Need to Take Action
The problem lies with the fact that there are more places in this nation to secure drugs than there are to rehabilitate addicts for free. It is a sad but it is a reality when it comes to the conditions the street kids live in Pakistan in. One can only hope that raising voices such as this would one day elicit a response from the officials who have turned a blind eye for so long.
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